Home Sweet Home

Mike Carey and the West Virginia women's basketball team has played games in seemingly every corner of the country to start the 2006 season. On Thursday night, though, Carey and his charges proved once again that there's no place like home.

The Mountaineers' early season travels included tournaments in Baton Rouge, La. and Los Angeles, Calif. Carey and company were more than happy to return home. They did so in favorable fashion, dispatching the Houston Cougars of Conference USA by a final of 73-47.

The Cougars hung around for the first few minutes of the game, but Carey's girls started to hit their stride midway through the opening 20 minutes. The Blue and Gold closed the first half on a 14-4 run.

"It was a good team effort," said sixth-year head coach Mike Carey after the game. "I thought that in the first half especially, we took care of the ball. They tried to slow us down but we were able to execute and get some things going. Defensively, at times I thought we did well. In the first half we did a good job on the boards, but in the second half I thought we gave up too many offensive rebounds."

For the game, West Virginia owned a 44-35 advantage on the boards, though the Cougars did get 15 offensive rebounds.

Senior guard Britney Davis-White scored 17 points off the bench to lead four Mountaineer scorers in double figures.

Davis-White had started five of the first six games for West Virginia, so for the second time this season, Carey elected to start sophomore guard Sparkle Davis in her place. The results turned out to be good for both players, as well as the entire team.

"Britney's been struggling a little bit, and Sparkle's been playing well and taking care of the basketball," Carey said. "I was glad to see Britney White come off the bench and play well. Hopefully that will give her some confidence coming down the stretch."

The senior guard, who ironically hails from Houston, responded well to her newfound role on Thursday night against the Cougars.

"The offense hasn't really been on my side the past couple of games, but I knew that if I came out and played really good defense then it would carry over for me to the offensive end," said Davis-White, who was 5-9 from the field in 17 minutes of play.

Junior center Yinka Sanni just missed a double-double with 16 points, and nine rebounds. Laquita Owens added ten points, despite being saddled for much of the game with foul trouble. Davis, an Auburn transfer, recorded ten points in a team-high 32 minutes of play.

Houston began the game by trying to slow down West Virginia's transition game, but a pair of threes by Owens thwarted any hope of the Cougars turning this into a half-court contest.

"I was glad to see that we didn't get too excited and start forcing up shots," Carey said of the slow pace early in the game. "In the beginning, we weren't hitting but then we hit a couple of threes and that opened some things up for us."

West Virginia's defense forced 15 Houston turnovers, and held the Cougars to an ice cold 27.1 percent shooting for the game.

"If we'll play the defense, we'll create some of our offense," Carey said. "That seems to get us going a little bit."

With the win, West Virginia is now 25-1 in non-conference home games under Carey. The lone loss came last season, when Texas A&M Corpus-Christi upended the Mountaineers 70-69 in overtime. The Mountaineers will return to action on Saturday afternoon when they host Coppin State at the Coliseum. Tip-off is set for 1:00 PM, so fans planning on being in town for the WVU-Rutgers football game will have plenty of time to attend both.

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