(Photo gallery by Teran Malone)
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Mark Kellogg went through the process in his mind about what it would be like to lead the WVU women’s basketball team on the floor at the Coliseum.
Undoubtedly, he didn’t imagine the struggles in the opening ten minutes of West Virginia’s 74-39 win over Loyola. However, his Mountaineers outscored the Greyhounds 56-23 in the final thirty minutes of play as Kellogg picked up a win in his first game as head coach.
“I thought about it a lot today, what it would be like when I walked out to be the head coach of the Mountaineers,” Kellogg said. “That was pretty special. A lot of thoughts went through my mind before the game today.”
West Virginia used a 9-0 run in the opening frame to take a 15-6 lead. However, Loyola closed the quarter on an 8-0 run and the Mountaineers led by just a basket, 18-16.
“We started off a little shaky. I thought we weren’t great defensively. We settled in in the second quarter and only allowed two points so I thought once we did that we were considerably better.
“We didn’t show a lot either. We watered down the offense and defense a little bit tonight. We’ll start to maybe click a little bit more maybe when we can help them out moving forward.”
The Mountaineers picked up their level of play defensively in the second stanza, outscoring Loyola 17-2 to build a 35-18 halftime lead.
“You could tell there were nerves,” said WVU fifth year guard Lauren Fields. “I am glad we got it out and in the second quarter we held them to two points. Obviously, we focused on our defense and created offense off of our defense.”
Junior guard JJ Quinerly led the Mountaineers with 19 points. She went 4-from-7 from beyond the arc.
“She’s the fastest kid I have ever coached,” Kellogg said. “Her ability to go from 0-to-100 and then stop again at zero is just next-level. I have never seen a kid that can go so quick and then stop.”
As a team, the Mountaineers connected on 12-of-23 attempts from 3-point range.
“Our guards are good and they can make open shots,” Kellogg said. “I think it is just on the rest of the team to get us the right shots. When we get it, thankfully tonight we were able to convert.”
Newcomer Jordan Harrison scored 18 points for the Mountaineers. She connected on 3-of-6 shots from distance. Harrison played for Kellogg last year at Stephen F. Austin.
“That’s Jordan Harrison,” Kellogg said. “She was the Freshman of the Year in our league for a reason. She got much better as the year went on.”
“I haven’t always been a 3-point shooter,” Harrison said. “I was a pass-first point guard. But now I am very confident in my shot.”
West Virginia will now prepare for their lone road non-conference game of the season when they visit Pittsburgh Saturday. Kellogg attended the football version of the Backyard Brawl in September.
“I took it all in. I am fully aware,” Kellogg said. “We haven’t had a basketball version of it yet but I am fully aware of what that looks like.”
(Mark Kellogg postgame press conference)