The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

January 9, 2011

WVU women crush Cincinnati, 72-44

Mountaineers block 17 shots, move to 16-0

MORGANTOWN — The No. 6-ranked West Virginia University women’s basketball team held a block party Saturday afternoon at the Coliseum and quite an affair it was.

There was music and dancing for the 2,797 who braved the weather and attended and, yes, there was food, the main course being the University of Cincinnati offense, that was completely devoured by the Mountaineer defense.

They say that 28 years ago there was something like it, but it’s hard to imagine. See on this day, as WVU beat the Bearcats, 72-44, for their 16th consecutive victory of this still unbeaten season, the Mountaineers blocked an incredible 17 shots.

That’s the third highest total in history, somehow 22 having had been blocked back there in ’83.

What made this day so unbelievable is that was just part of a defensive performance for the ages.

West Virginia not only blocked 17 shots — five each of them by Korinne Campell and Liz Repella, for career highs, and five more by Asya Bussie — but the Mountaineers forced 22 turnovers and stole the ball 11 times.

Put that together with the fact that Cincinnati managed to score only 12 baskets — five fewer than the number of shots they had blocked — and shot just 19.7 percent and you understand just how tightly WVU turned the screws on defense.

“They are No. 1 in scoring defense in the nation for a reason,” said a frustrated Cincinnati coach Jamelle Elliott. “They challenge everything. They are long and have size to them. They took us out of everything we tried to run.”

“We played great defense the first four minutes,” admitted Coach Mike Carey, who gives out compliments very seldom. In fact, you had to squeeze him to get him to admit that this was anything but an ordinary defensive performance from then on.

Not that his players will worry about that.

“They know I’m never happy,” he said.

It certainly was an impressive beginning, starting on the first possession with a turnover, then a steal by Madina Ali, then a trap under the basket that twice almost resulted in turnovers until Ali eventually said the heck with it and went ahead and stole the ball.

The fourth possession saw Cincinnati get two shots blocked, the fifth ended with a nifty block by Campbell and the sixth with a steal by Campbell.

Cincinnati got off a couple of shots the next two times down the court that missed, then Bussie blocked a shot and then another.

Scoring was out of the question. Just getting off a shot seemed to be an accomplishment.

But then it’s been this way all season. Teams are averaging only 46 points a game against WVU and shooting just 32.7 percent.

“They’ve got to buy into it,” Carey said, speaking of his team accepting haaving such a defensive mindset. “It’s always been my philosophy. Defense, rebound, shot selection.”

The shot selection was good enough that WVU shot 45.5 percent with Ali leading the way by scoring 15 points to give her a double-double with 11 rebounds. Also in double figures were Repella with 11 and Bussie with 10.

And that’s how it went in this game, almost to perfection.

Or not, if you listen to Carey.

“We always try to get better,” he said. “We won by 28 but have a lot of work to do.”

Then he added a kicker to that.

“Of course, it’s good to be 16-0 when you are working on it.”

Indeed it is.

E-mail Bob Hertzel at bhertzel@hotmail.com.

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