MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – No. 22 West Virginia (1-0) had the obvious size advantage against Saint Francis Tuesday night for their season opener.
The Mountaineers took advantage of that size difference, doing a majority of its scoring from the paint, which pleased head coach Mike Carey.
“We’re going to go inside a lot this year. We’ve got a lot of strength in the paint. So we’re going to go in there,” said Carey following the 86-33 victory.
Nearly half of WVU’s points from Tuesday were scored by key forwards Esmery Martinez, Yemiyah Morris and Kari Niblack.
Martinez led the way, scoring a game-high 19 points. She also added seven rebounds and three assists.
“I’m just working for my team, and play hard every day,” she said after the game.
Morris supplied 12 points off the bench, including going 4-for-4 from the free throw line. She picked up a pair of blocks on the defensive end, too.
Niblack did most of her damage from the free throw line, as she too had a perfect day from the charity stripe, knocking down all six of her shots from the line. She added two more shots from the floor to give her 10 points on the night to go along with her six rebounds.
“We’re strong in the paint with Kari, and Esmery, and [Yemiyah], and Blessing [Ejiofor]. We need to go in there,” Carey said.
Getting the ball inside will be one of Carey’s emphases throughout the season. He’s made it clear in the preseason, and following his team’s first game of the year.
As a team, the Mountaineers scored 52 of their points inside the paint against the Red Flash.
They’ll once again have the height advantage Friday afternoon when they host Kennesaw State. The Owls have just two players listed as being 6-feet, 2-inches tall.
The Mountaineers have six players listed at that height or taller, including Martinez and Morris, who went to work in the paint Tuesday.