Ayana Dunning and Asya Bussie combined for 38 points, guiding the West Virginia women's basketball team to a 76-72 victory over Syracuse in Wednesday's BIG EAST opener.
"I'm very proud of our team," coach Mike Carey said. "I thought we don't play well down here—we've had some good teams come down here and get beat by 25, so I'm very proud of our team to be so young and come down here and get a win."
The Mountaineers (6-2, 1-0) led by as many as 16 points with 11:22 remaining, and the Orange (6-3, 0-1) were able to close in by only two points at the 3:13 mark (70-68). Syracuse missed a pair of forced threes and was successful in blocking a WVU shot to run the clock down to the 1:01 mark when a successful Dunning layup gave the Mountaineers a 3-point advantage.
Taylor Palmer made 1-of-2 free throws after a foul to put WVU up five, 73-68, with 48 seconds to play. WVU didn't let up to close out the win.
Bussie and Dunning each had a career-best 19 points, followed by Brooke Hampton, who had 15 points after draining a pair of threes. Palmer was the fourth Mountaineer in double figures with 10 points.
As a team, WVU shot 41.3 percent (25-63), while Syracuse was 34.5 percent (20-58) from the field. The Orange capitalized on fouls as they converted 88.6 percent (31-35) of free throws, while the Mountaineers shot 71.4 percent (20-28) from the line.
"Brooke (Hampton) and YaYa (Ayana Dunning) came in here and did an excellent job," Carey said. "Asya (Bussie) can score and she has quickness so we kept going to her."
WVU out-rebounded Syracuse, who led the league in rebounding heading into tonight's game, 46-39. Dunning recorded a double-double as she pulled down 15 rebounds, while Jess Harlee chipped in another six.
"You could tell we are inexperienced," Carey said. "I thought we did a good job, especially the first 30 minutes, on the boards because they are an excellent rebounding team. We got shook up a little bit and turned the ball over a little bit, but I give them a lot of credit."
Carmen Tyson-Thomas led Syracuse with 17 points and six rebounds. Two other Syracuse players also had six rebounds.
WVU returns home for a non-conference matchup with North Florida, Saturday, Dec. 10 at noon.