That's not to say it was easy early on for the Huskies. Perhaps WVU came out of the gate with a rush of adrenaline, perhaps UConn still had a bit of a hangover from last Saturday. Or, it could be simply that WVU gave all it had. Eventually, however, it just wasn't enough to run with the big, quick, and deep Huskies.
The Mountaineers made a game of it, taking advantage of early turnovers and poor shooting (and a cold start by Diana Taurasi) to jump to a 10-6 lead on a Yolanda Paige layup off a fast break with 14:58 left. Michelle Carter was hot, scoring four in the beginning moments, but momentum took a swing when she sat for a rest and was replaced by Meg Bulger with 14:10 to go.
Bulger, in her first game against UConn, committed two quick fouls that set the tempo for the rest of the half. Carter replaced Meg, and proceeded to commit two quick fouls of her own, which forced Coach Carey to send out Kate Glusko and Latitia Williams. Both were pretty much ineffective, and Carey had nowhere else to go on his eight-deep lineup. The result was a 25-4 UConn run from 13:35 to 1:18. The half ended on a Diana Taurasi three as time expired, making the score 39-20.
West Virginia opened the second half able to match the Huskies score-for-score in the first three minutes. But, the Mountaineers committed an inexplicable eight team fouls before the 16 minute mark. The fouls put a big limit on WVU's ability to be aggressive on offense and defense. That trouble, combined with a painful 34% shooting percentage at that point in the game - proved fatal to West Virginia's hopes of getting back into the contest. UConn was able to crash the boards while WVU had to be cool for fear of losing half their roster to fouls. The Huskies led by as much as 37 before WVU rallied to make the score a decent 82-57 end result.
What else can I really say about this game? It is UConn and the Mountaineers were EXTREMELY short-handed for this one. The fouls and the lack of depth were a deadly combination, likely wearing on the players and increasing frustrations. The good news is, 25 points is definitely not that awful when dealing with Geno's crew, and it is good to have an early season conference match against the class of the field, hopefully better preparing the team for what is to come.
Yolanda Paige led West Virginia with 14 points on 5-14 shooting. Big East rookie of the week Meg Bulger was right behind, rallying from foul trouble to score 13. Sherell Sowho was the only other Mountaineer in double figures with 11. Interestingly enough, Paige tied Diana Taurasi to lead all scorers in the game with 14.
WVU falls to 9-4 and 1-1 in Big East play. The Mountaineers begin a two-game road trip to metropolitan New York with a match at Seton Hall on Saturday.