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WVU defense smothers Herd

Chip Ellis
West Virginia's Christal Caldwell shoots a jump shot over Marshall's Chukwuka Ezeigbo.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia forced 26 Marshall turnovers Tuesday night in the women's edition of the Capital Classic, converting those into 33 points.And it didn't impress coach Mike Carey one bit."I told them I was embarrassed with their energy," Carey said after his 23rd-ranked Mountaineers took home a 64-48 victory at the Civic Center. "Totally embarrassed."If you compared Carey's postgame demeanor with that of first-year Thundering Herd coach Matt Daniel, you would be hard-pressed to tell which team lead by double digits the entire second half. You'd have a hard time telling tell which team failed to inbound the ball to start that second half."I am happy to see the fight in us," Daniel said a few minutes earlier. "And I think over the last three halves of basketball - the second half against Presbyterian [59-51 win last weekend] and tonight's two halves, we've looked more like a basketball team, as opposed to just 'out there.'"That sums up the state of both programs, as WVU now owns an eight-win streak in the series it leads 36-16. Carey has the Mountaineers in the Top 25 again, and Daniel has to make do with a thin roster until he gets his first wave of recruits to Huntington.At times, the chasm was easy to see for the 2,606 at the Civic Center.Such as the first 6 minutes, 20 seconds, as the Mountaineers (5-2) built a 14-2 lead and seemingly threatened to repeat that 78-21 rout of two Capital Classics ago. The Herd's turnover meter hit five in that short of time.But with point guard Linda Stepney injured in pregame warm-ups, Ayana Dunning in foul trouble and the team getting outhustled at times, the Mountaineers gave up a 13-2 Marshall run. Leandra King, MU's leading scorer with 10 points, cut the margin to 16-15 and 18-17.Bria Holmes, the freshman who led WVU with 15 points, scored 13 of those in the first half to put the Herd back at arm's length. Her three-point play at the 7:54 mark sparked a 9-0 run, and then she scored her team's final eight points of the first half - including a 3-pointer just before the buzzer.That gave WVU a 35-23 halftime lead. When Marshall was called for a five-second violation on the opening inbounds pass, the Mountaineers used that momentum to take that lead out to 19 points, 50-31.The game was never in doubt, but there was a 31/2-minute stagnation in which the score stuck at 53-38. The Herd chiseled that margin down to 59-48 with 2:45 left, but got no closer.After Holmes' 15, Dunning had 13 and Crystal Leary had 12 points and 11 rebounds off the bench. WVU held Marshall to 34.5 percent shooting, outrebounded the Herd 48-41 and hauled down 19 offensive boards, scoring 16 second-chance points.Which was no consolation to Carey, as the Mountaineers committed 20 of their own turnovers, shot just 35.3 percent and allowed Marshall 14 offensive rebounds.Noting that his team came off a stifling 54-47 win at Virginia, Carey definitely wasn't impressed with that part of the game. Much like his fellow coaches in Morgantown, he has his team's entrance into a new conference in mind.
"We're not going to win in the Big 12 by playing defense and not playing hard," Carey said. "We can shoot 30-something percent in the Big 12 and still win, but not play defense and rebound. How many offensive rebounds we give up? We were just a half-step slow all night."Marshall did not help itself with 5-of-17 free-throw shooting (did the disease spread from the men's team?), but Daniel chalked that up to any number of factors - fatigue of playing with a 10-woman roster, mental fatigue of functioning in a new system and several other intangibles.Which Daniel can cope with. Tuesday night, he saw one thing he hadn't seen in his first few games on the Herd bench, and he finds it encouraging. "That game wasn't just physically tough," Daniel said. "It was mentally and emotionally tough. I mean, we've got kids crying in the dressing room after the game's over. And I'll tell you this: That's the first time I've seen them cry after a loss."You think it isn't coming together? It's starting to mean something, that's for sure."
  • BRIEFLY: King and Holmes were named their team's respective most valuable players. ... Scott High graduate Makenzie White entered briefly at the end and attempted a 3-pointer, which stuck between the backboard and rim. ... WVU returns to the Coliseum at 7:30 p.m. Saturday to take on St. Bonaventure. Marshall ventures to Southern Illinois for a 1 p.m. game Saturday.
  • Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130, or follow him at 64, Marshall 48MARSHALL (4-4) M FG FT R A POrlandria Williams 35 2-4 2-7 5 1 7Chukwuka Ezeigbo 27 3-10 0-1 8 0 6
    Suporia Dickens 19 0-5 0-0 6 1 0Shay Weaver 39 3-14 0-1 2 1 8Norrisha Victrum 33 3-9 2-4 4 2 9Erica Woods 13 1-1 0-0 2 2 2Leandra King 13 5-9 0-2 6 0 10Veronica Ruiz 21 2-3 1-2 7 2 6Team    1  Totals 200 19-55 5-17 41 9 48WEST VIRGINIA (5-2) M FG FT R A PAveree Fields 24 3-6 0-1 7 0 6Ayana Dunning 16 6-12 1-1 6 2 13Christal Caldwell 20 1-9 0-0 4 2 2Taylor Palmer 30 3-11 0-0 4 1 7Linda Stepney 2 0-0 0-0 1 0 0Makenzie White 1 0-1 0-0 0 0 0Akilah Bethel 2 0-1 0-0 0 0 0Brooke Hampton 32 2-7 0-0 1 7 6Darius Faulk 6 0-2 1-2 0 0 1Jess Harlee 5 0-0 2-2 2 1 2Jennie Simms 7 0-2 0-0 1 1 0Bria Holmes 23 5-12 3-5 5 0 15Crystal Leary 32 4-5 4-5 11 2 12Team    6  Totals 200 24-68 11-16 48 16 64  Halftime: WVU 35-23. 3-point goals: Marshall 5-16 (Williams 1-2, Weaver 2-10, Victrum 1-2, Ruiz 1-2), WVU 5-21 (Caldwell 0-1, Palmer 1-6, White 0-1, Bethel 0-1, Hampton 2-6, Holmes 2-6). Fouled out: Marshall (Weaver). Technical fouls: none. Attendance: 2,606.  
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