Women Dominate Herd

The West Virginia women's basketball team got another monkey off of their back this evening. This time, it was a big green monkey that had a grasp for two years - the Thundering Herd of Marshall. West Virginia defeated Marshall handily, 65-37, in the Capitol Classic this evening in Charleston.

It was the first win for West Virginia since 1999 over what has recently been a mediocre Marshall program. The Mountaineers now lead the series 26-14.

In addition, the win total for this year now stands at 11, which is the combined win total for the past two years, and the most wins since the 1997-98 squad went 12-15. In fact, only one West Virginia team has won more than 12 games since the 1991-92 season: Susan Walvius' 1996-97 squad went 19-12. While the Mountaineers haven't won 12 yet, it's certainly not a bad turnaround for a first-year coach.

This was a game that really wasn't - West Virginia led wire-to-wire in pure domination. Marshall's lack of an outside game was overwhelmed by West Virginia's defense, with Mike Carey making the switch to zone early in the second half to shut off a series of early Herd scores inside.

West Virginia's lack of an inside game was irrelevant, as the three outside threats for the Mountaineers, led by Big East Rookie of the Week Yolanda Paige in the first half then Sherell Sowho in the second, and, of course, a steady but unspectacular effort by Kate Bulger.

West Virginia was led by Sherell Sowho, who scored 11 in the second half to tally 17 points. She was followed by Bulger with 16 and Paige with 13. Mary Grace Carson had a nice effort, scoring seven, helping make up for a below-average showing by Brandi Batch who only had five. Eartha White had four, Kristen Kilgore two, and Aubrey Guastalli hit a late free-throw for one point.

The Mountaineer defense swarmed the Herd from the start and allowed them very few clean looks at the basket. WVU, despite suffering some shooting woes of their own early, sprinted out to a quick double digit lead on the strength of their defense and some easy transition baskets.

Head coach Mike Carey was pleased with the early defensive effort, but felt that there was a letdown around the ten minute mark and again in the second half.

"Defense is our key," Carey said after the game. We got after them well early, but then we slacked off some. We have to be able to press and get some easy baskets, because we can't line up in the halfcourt against most teams."

Despite the somewhat unven effort, the bottom line is the Mountaineers came into Charleston and did what they needed to do - no more, no less. The defense held the Herd to the lowest point total for an opponent this season, the previous being 39 by Robert Morris. Again, as I love to point out, everyone got to play - even Zsophia Horvath emerged from her hiding place with Vice President Cheney.

West Virginia (11-6, 3-3) returns home on Saturday afternoon for a return matchup with the sloooooooooooooooow Villanova Wildcats. This game should be a good gauge of how much improvement the Mountaineers have tallied since early January, as Villanova is a better-than-average Big East team. Marshall falls to 5-12.

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