The Herd was without starting center Chukwuka Eziegbo, who left the team yesterday for funeral rites for her father, Ambrose, in their home country of Nigeria. Ambrose Eziegbo passed away in November, and had services in their adopted town of Trenton, N.J., but the family is now returning to Africa to participate in services there.
Eziegbo's absence definitely hurt the shorter Herd, who had to choose between doubling down on the Mountaineers in the post or playing straight up to contest WVU shooters on the perimeter. In the end, it could do neither, as MVP Asya Bussie scored 16 points on the blocks and her teammates outside combined to shoot 50% from three-point range.
Marshall head coach Matt Daniel acknowledged that his team faced something of a Hobson's choice against the bigger, deeper and more experienced Mountaineers.
"We tried to mix it up some, but being young that can be tough for us to do," he observed afterward. "West Virginia is so much better than they were a year ago. I think they are a Sweet 16 team."
The Mountaineers dominated the Herd in almost all facets of the game. In addition to shooting the ball well, WVU grabbed 53 rebounds against MU's 27 and converted on 22 of 32 shots from the line.
West Virginia's pressure defense was also effective for long stretches of the game, and only some let-ups when the contest was under control irked Mountaineer head coach Mike Carey. WVU held MU to just 30% shooting from the field and closed down the lane for most of the contest, allowing Marshall just 10 successful shots from two-point range.
"When we get up the lane and pressure the defense is good," Carey noted. "There was a point where we had to call timeout and I had to let the girls know politely that the effort wasn't there. But we are deep."
In addition to Bussie, Taylor Palmer and Bria Holmes added 16 points apeice, while Christal Caldwell and Lana Montgomery added eight. Holmes was seeing her first action in three games after recovering from a concussion. She played 21 minutes and made five of eight shots from both the field and the free throw line.
WVU is now 37-16 all-time against Marshall, and has won eight straight games after a season-opening loss to Ohio State.
WVU recorded 21 assists on its 25 baskets. Palemr, Brooke Hampton and Linda Stepney each contributed four assists to the total.
A reported late setup of the Charleston Civic Center for the game caused the morning men's shootarounds to be delayed, which then pushed back the time in which the women's teams were allowed to take the court for warmups. West Virginia's team, going by the provided schedule, was held up in its attempt to take the court add warm up at its appointed time. Daniel acknowledged that the delay was something his young team did not deal with well.