The West Virginia women's basketball's defensive efforts paid off in a 53-32 BIG EAST win over Marquette, Saturday, at the WVU Coliseum.
The Mountaineers (15-6, 5-3) were successful in limiting the Golden Eagles (12-9, 3-5) to only 18.2 percent (10-55) shooting from the field and not a single 3-pointer as Marquette was 0-for-10 from 3-point range. Marquette became the first BIG EAST team WVU has held without a single 3-pointer since Syracuse was 0-for-12 in 2004 at the Coliseum.
In addition to limiting the shooting efforts, WVU also recorded 13 steals, led by Jess Harlee with four, and 10 blocks, led by Asya Bussie with a career-best seven. The Mountaineers forced 21 Marquette turnovers, and gave up 18 of their own. Bussie's seven blocked shots were the most from any player under coach Carey, and are them ost blocked shots in a single game from any WVU players since 1986 when Georgeann Wells had eight on three occasions during the season against Massachusetts, Saint Joseph's and Rutgers.
"Our girls played hard," WVU coach Mike Carey said. "Thirteen steals was the most we had in a while and we did a good job of getting up the lane and we did a good job of taking them out of their stuff."
"West Virginia plays incredible defense and denial," Marquette coach Terri Mitchell said. "They took us out of our rhythm offensively as you can see by our shooting percentage and our amount of turnovers."
In rebounding, however, the Mountaineers lost a battle to Marquette as the Golden Eagles became the first league team this season to out-rebound WVU, doing so 47-42, with 19 offensive boards. Katherine Plouffe led in rebounding with nine boards, while Apiew Ojulu, Chelsie Butler and Sarina Simmons each had eight. Ojulu pulled down five offensive boards.
"Asya Bussie and Yaya (Ayana Dunning) were coming over from the weak side and Asya had seven blocked shots and then our guards weren't rotating down block," Carey explained. "Their post had a bunch of offensive rebounds and it is not our centers' fault. It is our rotation not getting physical down there and blocking them out. It is something that we have to work on."
West Virginia's rebounding was led by Ayana Dunning and Christal Caldwell with seven boards each.
Offensively, Caldwell led the team in scoring as she put up 20 points, her ninth consecutive game in double figures. Behind Caldwell, Taylor Palmer contributed 10 points and Harlee chipped in seven.
"She (Caldwell) has been playing well," Carey said. "Especially in the first half, she hit the offensive boards well. We need her to continue to do that. The key is that we need either Brooke Hampton or Taylor Palmer or somebody else to give us some scoring from the perimeter. That opens up our post a little bit more."
Marquette's scoring was led by Plouffe with nine points, while Chelsie Butler and Simmons each contributed eight points.
The Mountaineers hit the road as they will face USF at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 1 in Tampa, Fla.
"South Florida got beat by Connecticut and they were only down two at halftime," Carey said. "They have a bunch of guards, 3-point shooters and athletes. We will have our hands full with South Florida, but we need to get one or two more on the road. We have got to be prepared."