MORGANTOWN — Sometimes you win games when the clock isn’t running, as West Virginia University’s women’s team proved Saturday at the Coliseum, going on big spurts out of a pair of Mike Carey timeouts to put an end to any upset ideas IPFW may have had, leading to an 82-48 victory.
And just what did Carey have to say to get his team back on track each time?
“We on television?” Carey asked, looking out at the media in his post-game press conference. “I had some adjectives that you might not want to hear. But it’s about making adjustments, too … saying get up the lane, give weak-side help, switch on this pick.”
Adjectives and adjustments is the formula, but which means more?
“Probably the adjustments,” Carey answered, “but I feel better after the adjectives.”
Each time the Mastadons seemed to be getting close to the streaking Mountaineers, who now have won six in a row and stretched their season record to 8-1, Carey had the solution … which usually involved Averee Fields.
The senior scored 23 points, had seven rebounds and four assists to lead the way, but she had a lot of company.
It was Fields’ second consecutive 20-point performance and her fourth of the season.
Senior point guard Linda Stepney authored her first career double-double with 13 points and 11 assists while Bria Holmes turned in another strong all-around game, scoring 17 points with five rebounds, two assists and four of WVU’s 17 steals.
The crowd was as sparse as Mastodon points when the game started as West Virginia ran off to an 18-3 lead.
But just when it appeared as though this would be ridiculously easy, IPFW warmed to the task and started dropping in 3s from almost anywhere on the court.
WVU seemed to be caught by surprise as over the next seven minutes they were outscored 21-16 and when the Mountaineers gave up an easy layup. Carey had seen enough and called a timeout with the lead at 34-24.
His were words of wisdom, it would seem, for it was a different Mountaineer group that stepped back on the floor and ran off 11 consecutive points to push the advantage to 45-24.
“He was just telling us to pick it up,” Stepney said. “You can’t leave teams around or they might hit a 3 at the end to beat you. We had a lot of letdowns today, and you can’t do that when you get to Big 12 play.”
Fields did most of the damage during that first spurt, scoring six of the 11 points, the most impressive coming as Stepney stole the ball, took it the length of the court, made a no-look dish to Fields breaking for the basket for the lay-in.
It was one of 11 assists for Stepney without a turnover.
“Linda sees the court well and knows who’s running with her. She doesn’t worry about the pressure they put on her, and she does a great job of delivering the ball,” Fields said.
“Look at her stat line,” IPFW coach Chris Paul said. “Thirteen points, 11 assists, three steals, but you know what the biggest number is. The zero under turnovers.”
“I hate turnovers,” Stepney said. “I try to have two or less a game.”
But she is more than just careful. She knows how to play the game and is always looking to involve teammates.
“The beauty of her is that we had to pick who to leave open with players like Holmes and Fields, so we backed off her,” Paul said. “A lot of point guards would have just fired and fired, but she still picked her spots and delivered the ball.”
“The best part of the game is delivering the ball,” Stepney said. “I can score when I need to score, but I feel more comfortable delivering it.”
By halftime the lead had swelled to 47-28 with Fields having her way with everything she did, hitting 8-of-13 shots and finishing the half with not only 17 points but a team-leading five rebounds, a pair of assists and steal.
Stepney, who had scored only two 3s all season, hit two in the first nine minutes of the game.
As hot as WVU was in the first half, hitting 60 percent of its shots, is as cold as they went at halftime, making just one of their first seven second-half shots, that basket coming off Stepney’s 10th assist of the game.
Given the opening the Mastadons took advantage, scoring four consecutive baskets, three of them by Keanna Gary, to cut it to 49-37.
This led Carey to call another timeout, and the result was the same. He had the right formula for his Mountaineers came out and scored seven straight points and outscored the Mastadons 33-11 the rest of the way.
Defensively, WVU put the clamps on Haley Sebert, IPFW’s leading scorer at 15.3 points a game, who scored only two free throws, that with seven minutes left in the game.
Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel.