MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Two days after West Virginia got off to a sluggish start in a 20-point win over Kennesaw State, the Mountaineers were locked in from the opening tip and smothered Radford 83-31 on Sunday at the Coliseum.
The 22nd-ranked Mountaineers were in control all the way, holding the Highlanders without a point for more than 4 minutes to start in a game they never trailed in.
“I didn’t think the first quarter of the last game last game we came out and played hard,” WVU head coach Mike Carey said. ”This game, we came out and played hard. We got sloppy a little bit offensively, but overall we played hard and took them out of everything they wanted to run.”
West Virginia (3-0) was aggressive from the outset and made 7-of-8 free throws in addition to nine field goals to build a 26-8 lead after the opening quarter. Nine players scored in the frame for WVU, including Esmery Martinez, who had five points and five rebounds over the first 10 minutes. Radford (1-3) made 3-of-14 field-goal attempts and turned it over six times.
Much like it did in the first quarter, West Virginia continued to clamp down on Radford in the second period. The Mountaineers scored the first eight points and upped the lead to 34-8 on A’riana Gray’s layup 5:19 before halftime.
Jasmine Carson ended the scoring in the opening half with a 3-pointer that allowed the Mountaineers to hold their biggest lead at that point, 46-18.
Seventeen of Radford’s 32 turnovers came over the first two quarters, while the Highlanders made only 6-of-22 shots.
“They do a lot of backdoors and a lot of what’s called pinch posts, where they’ll backdoor you or flare and we did a good job of pushing their offense out and it really didn’t hurt us,” Carey said. “If you let them run it right there at the elbows or high post, then they’re pretty good, but our girls did a good job pushing them out far away.”
West Virginia’s lead reached 30 when KK Deans scored to start the second half and it continued to grow from there, with the Mountaineers on top 71-26 through three quarters.
WVU finished with 34 points off turnovers.
Deans led four Mountaineers in double figure scoring with 16 points. Martinez added 12 points and seven rebounds in 15 minutes. Gray scored 11 and led all players with nine rebounds.
“Her and Esmery could have a double double every game,” Carey said. “Esmery would have had a double double if I left her in. Both of them were very active. Esmery came out and was very active on the boards and that was good to see.”
Carson was the fourth double figure scorer with 11.
Point guards Madisen Smith (7 assists) and JJ Quinerly (5 steals) were key contributors in the win.
“I feel very comfortable right now going at least ten deep,” Carey said.
Destinee Marshall led the Highlanders with 11 points.