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West Virginia Dominates Saint Francis in Home Opener

The No. 22 West Virginia women’s basketball team began their season on a very high note on Tuesday evening outlasting Saint Francis (Pa.), 86-33.

West Virginia scored the majority of their points down underneath the basket on the night, as they put up 52 points in the paint as opposed to Saint Francis’ 16 points in the paint.

“That was the plan we’re strong in the paint with Kari [Niblack], Esmery [Martinez], Yemiyah [Morris] and Blessing [Ejiofor], we need to go in there and that’s going to open up the guards. If we go in there and they sag, our posts are very unselfish and they’ll kick it out for wide open shots, it’s a lot easier stepping into a wide open shot than trying to force it,” WVU head coach Mike Carey said.

The Mountaineers jumped out to a big advantage over the Red Flash by forcing eight steals through the first quarter of action alone. Junior forward Esmery Martinez got the scoring started on the night tacking on the first points on a second chance layup attempt.

Martinez then contributed five more points in the first quarter while senior forward Kari Niblack got into the scoring mix sinking a two-point jumper and a pair of free throws. Mountaineer junior guard Kirsten Deans also knocked down some two pointers to give West Virginia the 27-8 lead at the end of the first.

“First game I was pleased with our effort, execution as we know the first game you’ve got to get a lot better but for the first game I was very pleased with our effort,” said Carey. “Everyone got to play and play a bunch of minutes and we’ve got to get better this next game.”

The second quarter saw West Virginia continue their offensive dominance as Niblack knocked down a two-point jumper to begin the quarter from inside the paint for the 21-point West Virginia lead. Martinez also continued her fiery night on the offensive side hitting a two-point jumper three minutes into the second quarter.

Martinez finished her first half collecting a team leading 13 points after a couple more two-pointers with both coming off Saint Francis turnovers. Fifth year center Morris also scored a layup basket on a Saint Francis turnover with four minutes remaining before halftime. Then senior guard Jasmine Carson also secured a layup off a Red Flash turnover.

The Red Flash finished with an abysmal 19 turnovers through the first half including 12 steals for the Mountaineers.

Deans came out shooting in the second half firing off a pair of three pointers through the opening two minutes of the second half. Then only a couple minutes later, Martinez was able to lay in layup for the Mountaineers off another Saint Francis turnover four minutes into the half.

“KK [Deans] can score, KK only took 12 shots and had 18 points, KK can score, and she can get to the rim, she can shoot the three. We need Jasmine [Carson] to pick it up, Jasmine just didn’t get it going tonight but she’s another one that can shoot it and score and we’re going to need that coming up, we’re going to need those games where there’s people playing zones or clogging it in,” said Carey.

The final five minutes of the third quarter saw the Mountaineers go on an 14-0 scoring run which began with a Deans layup halfway through the third quarter. Quinerly then proceeded to post up a couple layups as well as a two-point jumper with some of them coming off turnovers.

The Mountaineers outscored Saint Francis in the fourth quarter 15 to nine points and wrapped up the night with the 53-point victory. West Virginia will now host Kennesaw State on Friday at noon inside the Coliseum.

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