Coach Mike Carey admitted was well-pleased Saturday with his West Virginia University women’s basketball team’s 76-55 victory over Villanova in a Big East contest at the Coliseum.

The 13th-ranked Mountaineers moved out to a commanding 11-0 start and never looked back, despite the absence of LaQuita Owens, the second-leading scorer who had been suspended by Carey for violating a team-related rule.

In making its record 22-4 overall, WVU solidified its position as sole occupant of third place in the Big East standings. The defeat dropped the visiting Wildcats to 15-12 and 5-9.

The Mountaineers performed up to their rating in virtually every play phase. They shot 50.9 percent from the field (29-of-57), including 70 percent from three-point range (7-of-10). They limited Villanova to 22.2 percent the first half, when it trailed by 32-16, and 37.7 percent for the game (20-of-53).

From behind the arc, the Wildcats made only 8 of 26 shots for 30.8 percent.

West Virginia also managed a 37-27 margin in rebounds, scored 38 points in the paint to 22, and got 22 points off the bench to WVU’s 14.

Olayinka Sanni led the winning attack, as usual. The 6-2 senior center scored 21 points, pulled down six rebounds, and had one assist and one steal. Reserve Liz Repella, a freshman, was next with 13 points, five rebounds, two blocks and a steal.

Meg Bulger, who started in place of Owens, collected 12 points and six rebounds, while Chakhia Cole chipped in 11 points, six rebounds and four assists. Point guard Ashley Powell dished out a game-high five assists, one more than Bulger had.

Villanova’s scoring leaders were Laura Kurz and Maria Getty, who tallied 11 points apiece. Getty made three of five shots from three-point range.

“We shot the ball well the whole game,” Carey beamed. “Our spacing and defense were very good, and we were keeping them off the board. But we struggled a bit offensively in the second half.

“Villanova runs a lot of stuff with their offense. When they penetrate and when they hit threes, they can be tough. Our girls defended them their offense the best of any team I’ve had.”

Carey pointed out that the Wildcats had won four of their last five games coming into this one.

Harry Perretta, in his 31st year as Villanova’s coach, said simply that the game went just about like he expected. His team is young, and it has problems playing against an experienced team such as WVU.

“If we don’t shoot the ball well early, we kinda fall apart,” he explained. “This might be West Virginia’s best team. They are a legitimate Top 25 team, like seven other Big East teams. West Virginia has depth and is mobile across the board.”

The Mountaineers’ largest lead was 24 points at 59-35 with 8:30 left in the game. The Wildcats then went on a 13-3 tear to pull within 14 points at 62-48, then repeated that spread at 65-41 but never got closer thereafter.

WVU, which has won 11 of its last 12 games, visits old rival Pitt for a rematch on Tuesday night.

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