The West Virginia women's basketball team earned 37 points from the free throw line in its 88-80 victory over Duquesne at the A.J. Palumbo Center, Saturday.
The Dukes (8-4) sent the Mountaineers (10-1) to the free throw line 16 times in the final 1:29, converting 13 of the 16 attempts. Duquesne came within four, 84-40, with nine seconds remaining, but time ran out as four successful free throw attempts by senior guard Brooke Hampton helped the Mountaineers seal the win.
"I thought we shot from the foul line extremely well; better than we have been—thank goodness we did," coach Mike Carey said.
The Mountaineers opened the game with the lead on a pair of free throws from senior guard Christal Caldwell, and never trailed. WVU led by as many as 10 points, 31-21, with 3:46 until the break, taking a 38-20 halftime lead. The Mountaineers shot 100 percent from the free throw line in the opening half, going 15-for-15, and closed out the game shooting 86 percent (37-43) from the charity stripe.
WVU used a 21-3 run in the first six minutes out of halftime to lead by as many as 26, 59-33. The Dukes chipped away at the double-digit deficit to make it a seven-point game (72-65) at the 3:33 mark. Senior guard Taylor Palmer hit a three to extend the lead back out to 10, when Duquesne began to foul in hopes of making a comeback.
"Give Duquesne a lot of credit," Carey said. "We were up 25 or 26 and they fought back. I'm disappointed with how we played after we went up 25, but they played hard and really played harder than we did the last 12 minutes of the basketball game. I think you saw how hard we can be when we're rolling and playing in that first eight minutes of the second half."
Four Mountaineers recorded scoring numbers in double figures, behind senior center Asya Bussie's double-double of 17 points and 11 rebounds. Thirteen of Bussie's point total came in the second half and 6-of-11 rebounds were on the offensive end. Junior Averee Fields recorded her first double-figure game this season with a season-high 15 points, including five field goals and 5-of-6 from the charity stripe. Palmer was a perfect 8-for-8 from the free throw line with a 3-pointer for 11 points, while junior guard Linda Stepney added a season-best 10 points and dished out three assists.
"I thought Averee Fields came out at the beginning of the game and was very aggressive and was scoring and then got in foul trouble. We were getting the ball into Asya and then she got in foul trouble," Carey said. "They were trying to sag and take Asya out as much as they could and that's why it's big when Averee hit some shots and got to the rim and it's big when Linda gets to the rim and starts some scoring because that's usually two girls they play off of. So when they start scoring, then we're pretty good."
WVU's bench contributed 30 points, led by junior forward Crystal Leary with eight points. Leary also added eight rebounds, four on the offensive end, helping WVU to a 38-31 rebounding advantage.
The turnover battle was about even at 21-20, but WVU earned 25 points off turnovers, while Duquesne capitalized with 16 off Mountaineer giveaways. The Dukes had the edge in the assists column, 19-16, led by April Robinson with seven.
The Mountaineers had one less field goal, shooting 43.6 percent (24-55) from the field, while the Dukes shot 43.9 percent (25-57). WVU was a mere 25 percent (3-12) from 3-point range, while Duquesne had eight threes on 38.1 percent (8-21) shooting.
Robinson recorded a game-leading 20 points, including three treys. Olivia Breshnahan came off the bench for 19 points, nine from the free throw line, and a pair of threes that helped keep the Dukes in the game in the second half. Wumi Agunbiade added 17 points for the Dukes and grabbed eight rebounds, to lead DU on the boards. Raegan Moore chipped in 11 points and seven rebounds before fouling out after 24 minutes of work.
The Mountaineers return home for their final nonconference matchup of the regular season against Elon at 2 p.m., on Sunday, Dec. 29, at the WVU Coliseum.