MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Highlighted by a 20-point game from fifth-year senior guard Madisen Smith, the West Virginia University women’s basketball team defeated NC Central, 89-58, in bounce-back fashion on Wednesday evening, inside the WVU Coliseum in Morgantown.
West Virginia’s (5-1) offense put together an impressive performance in the victory, as the Mountaineers shot 31-of-57 (54.4%) from the field, including 10-of-21 (47.6%) from 3-point range. WVU also netted 17 free throws in the win.
Additionally, West Virginia shot 50% or better from the floor in all four quarters, including 8-of-13 (61.5%) in the third quarter. What’s more, WVU was 6-of-7 (85.7%) from downtown in the third period.
The Mountaineer defense also shined in the win over NC Central (2-6), as the team forced 26 turnovers in the game. West Virginia has now forced at least 20 opponent turnovers in five of six games this season, including 25 or more in three games.
Along with Smith’s game-high 20 points, WVU also saw three other players finish in double figures, including senior guard Jayla Hemingway (15), junior guard Savannah Samuel (12) and fifth-year senior guard Danni Nichols (10).
Hemingway and junior forward Kylee Blacksten paced the Mountaineers on the glass, with six rebounds apiece.
After West Virginia scored first, NC Central kept the game close and even knotted the score up twice in the first minute of the game. From there, WVU created a six-point separation before extending its lead to 12 points with less than a minute to go in the opening quarter. The Mountaineers held a 25-16 lead after the first 10 minutes of action.
West Virginia began the second quarter on a 9-0 run, which extended the advantage to 18 points with 7:38 remaining in the first half. NC Central halted the Mountaineers’ attack soon after, but two more buckets from WVU, including a 3-pointer from Smith, pushed the lead up to 20 points with 5:50 to go in the second quarter.
The Eagles cut their deficit down to 14 points before the end of the first half, but a few more scores from the Mountaineers allowed them to take a 43-27 lead at the game’s midway point.
West Virginia got its lead back up to 20 points to begin the second half, as it led NCCU, 49-29, with 7:13 remaining in the third frame. Three consecutive NC Central baskets cut WVU’s lead to 14 again, but the Mountaineers would outscore the Eagles, 17-2, over the final five minutes of the third quarter to create a 29-point separation.
West Virginia led NC Central, 66-37, heading into the final quarter of the game.
After NCCU scored to begin the last 10 minutes of the contest, six Mountaineer scores would push their lead to 37 points, their largest of the game. With the game decided at that point, WVU would coast to the finish line and secure the bounce-back win.
Next up, West Virginia continues its three-game stretch at home on Saturday, Dec. 3, as the Mountaineers welcome Delaware State to Morgantown. Tipoff against the Hornets is set for 2 p.m. ET, inside the WVU Coliseum. Saturday’s contest will be broadcast on Big 12 Now and the Mountaineer Sports Network.