Junior guard Linda Stepney used a career-best scoring outing to help the West Virginia women's basketball team to a 73-59 win over No. 13/11 Iowa State, Wednesday at the Hilton Coliseum.
"This was a great win for us against a very good Iowa State basketball team," coach Mike Carey said. "We were in foul trouble most of the game, but our girls came off the bench and did a great job. The first half I thought we did an excellent job defensively. Every time they cut it, we'd go back up nine or 10 so that was good to see."
The Mountaineers (15-2, 4-1) struck first with a jumper from junior forward Averee Fields and never let the lead go. The Cyclones (14-2, 3-2) were held to only seven first-half field goals and without a single three in the opening half. WVU held a 36-23 halftime lead and stretched it out to as many as 16, 48-32, in the opening minutes of the second half.
The Cyclones chipped away at the deficit, making it an eight-point game, 61-53, with six minutes left, but the Mountaineers responded with a 7-2 run down to just over two minutes to play. WVU converted 5-of-6 free throws in the final 90 seconds, while ISU recorded a single field goal.
Stepney had a career-high 16 points to lead WVU for the first time in her career. In addition to her point total, Stepney added six assists, zero turnovers and led WVU in rebounding with seven boards. Sophomore guard Bria Holmes recorded 12 points, senior guard Christal Caldwell added 11 points and Fields chipped in 10 points.
Iowa State entered Wednesday's game averaging 9.9 threes a game, and were held to only two, shooting 20 percent (2-10) from beyond the arc. The Mountaineers capitalized from 3-point range, recording 12 threes on 40 percent (12-30) shooting. Caldwell, Stepney and Holmes each had three threes, while Palmer and senior guards Brooke Hampton and Jess Harlee each added a trey. Every Mountaineer that played scored.
"I thought we took them off the spot on the threes. We shot better today from the perimeter than we have for the last three or four games. When (Asya) Bussie got the ball, they had two or three people on her so it was people really stepping into their shot and getting good looks," Carey explained. "I thought we had a good game plan coming in, and I thought our players followed it."
WVU shot 43.6 percent (24-55) from the field and 72.2 percent (13-18) from the free throw line. Iowa State shot 41.5 percent (22-53) from the field and 86.7 percent (13-15) from the charity stripe. The battle of the boards were tied at 33 rebounds per team. ISU dominated the paint with 38 points to WVU's 18, but WVU took an advantage off turnovers, 10-6, and second chance points, 11-8. The Mountaineer bench added 16 points.
Hallie Christofferson led Iowa State with 21 points and five rebounds. Jadda Buckley added 15 points and six rebounds, while Nikki Moody chipped in eight points and five assists.
WVU returns home for a 2 p.m. game with Big 12 foe Oklahoma on Saturday, Jan. 18 at the WVU Coliseum. Saturday's game vs. Oklahoma is a Coca-Cola Family Day. Get four tickets, four hot dogs, four Cokes & a popcorn for $25. Family Day packages can be ordered at WVUGAME.com or 1-800-WVU GAME. Orders must be placed by 5 p.m. Friday