Four Mountaineers scored double-figures as the West Virginia women’s hoops team earned their fourth win of the season over Coppin State, 82-47.
It was Education Day at the WVU Coliseum, which means students from area middle and elementary schools were in attendance for the contest to comprise most of the 10,663-person crowd. The noise was most definitely a factor, giving the Mountaineers a unique home-court advantage for a Thursday morning.
“There was a point where I thought I lost my hearing for a second,” said forward Kari Niblack. “They were really loud.”
Niblack added that it was really good to have all of the students in the stands.
After getting down early, Tynice Martin pushed the Mountaineers in front with 9 points in the first quarter, making all of their shots. Kysre Gondrezick helped take the lead with 5 points of her own. Kirsten Deans would cap the quarter off with a three-pointer at the buzzer, putting the WVU lead at 23-8.
Coppin State’s Aliyah Lawson and Chance Graham would help the Eagles make up some ground before halftime. The duo each contributed 7 points, while the Mountaineers finished the first half on a scoring drought that lasted 8:49.
The Mountaineers took control right back in the second half. Gondrezick dropped 13 points out of the break, bumping her total to a game-leading 20. Niblack also gave a boost after a first half without a field goal, notching 9 second-half points on 80 percent shooting.
“I’m just trying to play my game right now, and I know that my game is shooting the ball,” Gondrezick said. “Also creating, I feel like I can create more, and I need to do a better job of that.”
West Virginia would outscore Coppin State 45-22 in the second half for the win, but Coach Mike Carey wasn’t too pleased with his team’s offensive play.
“I wasn’t happy with the ball movement. I wasn’t happy with today at all,” he said. “Give Coppin State a lot of credit, they came in and played hard….We just don’t have enough ball movement. We’ve got too many people just one-on-one all the time. Nobody’s setting up anybody.”
West Virginia had a dominating performance on the glass. The Mountaineers grabbed a total of 41 rebounds, contrasted with CSU’s 24. That was a group effort by WVU, but Esmery Martinez’s 9 boards led the way.
“I thought our guards did a good job boxing out,” Carey said. “I mean, they took a lot of outside shots and long rebounds, and I thought our guards got involved in the rebounding, which was good.
Martin was the backcourt’s rebounding motor, setting the pace with 6 boards.
There is still much room for improvement for this team, according to both Carey and his players. They do recognize that they have shown growth, even if they do have a ways to go.
Niblack, for example, made a marked improvement in one of her struggling areas, and that’s foul trouble. She didn’t commit a single foul against Coppin State, and it’s all up to a simple strategy.
“I’m just trying to play a lot smarter,” the sophomore said.