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December 17, 2012

Hot shooting lifts WVU women

Mountaineers find rhythm in home rout

MORGANTOWN — Memo to Bob Huggins’ men’s basketball players at West Virginia:

Before playing another game, maybe you ought to stop by on the women’s side of the new basketball practice facility and see if the ladies might not be willing to give you some shooting lessons.

The men, you see, have struggled all season putting the ball in the basket, be it up close or from long range.

The women, on the other hand — well, here’s what they did Sunday in beating Youngstown State, 90-57 — they shot 64.4 percent from the field and 42.9 percent from 3-point range.

It was a clinic. While the men have had individuals hitting 1 of 9 or 1 of 7, the ladies were ringing them up as if it was the easiest thing in the world.

Averee Fields, 6 of 8, Ayana Dunning, 5 of 7, Christal Caldwell, 6 of 11, Taylor Palmer, 6 of 10 ... and oh, off the bench, Darius Faulk, 5 of 5, and Jess Harlee, 3 of 3.

“The thing was there were not a lot of layups either,” Coach Mike Carey said.

Oh, there were 42 points in the paint, which equates to 21 close-up shots, but that left 17 of the field goals to come from the outside.

Especially good for Carey to see was Palmer to be throwing them down. She entered the season with the reputation of being a scorer, but had hit only 29.7 percent of her shots coming into the game, just 27.3 percent from 3.

But she hit 6 of 10 and 3 of 6, burying the shots she had been missing.

“I felt different recently,” she admitted. “I came out a lot earlier and got up a lot of shots. I was really focused today.”

The main correction she made was to relax a bit and do what came naturally.

“I was focusing on not rushing too many shots,” she said. “I got my feet set and was more creating my shot than rushing when they ran out at me.”

Her early shooting got the Mountaineers off to a big lead, one that they would cling to as a good team should.

Which led to the obvious question, that being just how good this 7-2 team can be.

“If we can become consistent and establish a post game, we have a chance to be pretty good,” Carey admitted. “Best half I’ve seen us play was second half against Virginia (in an upset road victory). I felt then we had a chance to be OK. They were big, they were strong, they were good.”

West Virginia put five players in double figures — Fields, Dunning, Caldwell, Palmer and Faulk — and Dunning turned in a double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds while staying out of foul trouble for the first time in a long while.

This Youngstown team was not a bad team either, and now the Mountaineers brace themselves for Duquesne, a team that stunned them last year coming back from a 17-point deficit to win.

Email Bob Hertzel at or follow him on Twitter @bhertzel.

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