Five Mountaineers scored in double figures to lift the West Virginia University women’s basketball team over Salem, 91-40, in exhibition play at the WVU Coliseum on Tuesday night.
Redshirt junior guard Kysre Gondrezick led the Mountaineers with a game-high 18 points in the annual Haunted Hoops contest. Sophomore forward Kari Niblack tallied a double-double with 11 points and 18 boards. Sophomore guard Madisen Smith had 15 points, while redshirt freshman center Rochelle Norris added 14, going 5-of-6 from the field. Junior guard Arleighshya McElroy also finished in double figures with 12 points.
“It’s early, but we have a lot of work to do,” WVU coach Mike Carey said. “We still have some people out and not practicing, but hopefully we can get some people back soon. We’re off tomorrow, but starting Thursday, we have to get in here and work.”
Niblack opened the game’s scoring by drawing a foul and going 1-for-2 at the line. Junior center Blessing Ejiofor grabbed the offensive rebound after the missed free throw and made the put-back to give WVU an early, 3-0, lead over the Tigers.
Salem responded on the other end with a layup, but the Mountaineers continued to draw fouls and find themselves on the free throw line to add their lead. Gondrezick grabbed a layup on a fast break, drawing the foul and extending the lead to 11-3 after converting at the line.
WVU went on a 14-4 run to close the first quarter, finishing with a bucket from Smith to end the frame. Norris opened the second quarter with a layup, followed by a short jumper from Gondrezick, extending the lead to 30-7 with 7:59 left on the clock.
Salem used a short jumper and a trey to shorten WVU’s lead, but Niblack responded on the other end with a layup, putting the score at 34-12 midway through the second quarter. tallied her first unofficial points in Gold and Blue with a 3-pointer, then later drew a foul and went 1-for-2 at the line to extend the lead to 38-12.
In the final minute, Ejiofor grabbed a layup, followed by a steal from freshman guard Kirsten Deans, leading to a Gondrezick jumper to end the half with WVU on top 45-16.
Smith opened the second half on a 3-point jumper. Salem connected on a pair of free throws and 3-pointer on the other end, but senior guard Lucky Rudd added a trey of her own at the 7:21 mark for a 51-21 WVU lead.
WVU continued to add to its advantage, scoring four unanswered to head into the first media timeout of the second half. Smith added a pair at the line, followed by two more free throws from McElroy. The Mountaineers’ lead continued to grow as Smith added a jumper and Deans connected on a layup on a fast break, taking a 63-24 lead.
Third period action ended with a fast break jumper from Gondrezick, before Salem made a jumper at the last second to end the quarter at 71-27.
Both teams were quiet to begin the fourth, but Niblack added a pair at the line at the 8:29 mark, making the score 73-27. Salem added back-to-back jumpers, but Norris responded with two free throws, then converted the and-one after a jumper at the 6:30 mark.
WVU continued to convert at the line to extend its lead into the final minutes, leading by as many as 53 to finish the contest.
The Mountaineers led in nearly every category, including a 58-42 edge in rebounds. WVU forced 33 Tiger turnovers, scoring 31 points off of turnovers. The Mountaineers shot 39.5 percent (30-of-76) from the field and 67.5 percent (27-of-40) from the free throw line.
Salem’s scoring was led by Nia Bishop who tallied eight points, while the Tigers shot 22.4 percent (13-of-58) as a team.
WVU officially opens the 2019-20 campaign when the Mountaineers host Saint Francis on Thursday, Nov. 7. Tipoff at the WVU Coliseum is set for 7 p.m. ET.