Capital Classic: WVU women beat Marshall 82-51
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The West Virginia women's basketball team has dominated Marshall in recent seasons at the Capital Classic, winning each of the last eight games in the series and Saturday's installment of the in-state series continued that trend.
Bria Holmes, Asya Bussie and Taylor Palmer each scored 16 points as the Mountaineers cruised to an 82-51 win against the Thundering Herd at the Charleston Civic Center for WVU's ninth-consecutive win against Marshall.
"They're a lot better than they were last year," Marshall coach Matt Daniel said. "They were a tall order for us today, and we knew that was going to be the case, but we're continuing to grow and search for who we are."
WVU leads the all-time series 37-16.
The Moutaineers (8-1) opened the game on a 8-0 run that Marshall (3-5) quickly matched, but after the run to tie the game things got considerably worse for the Herd.
West Virginia stretched its lead to 44-22 by halftime and lead by more than 30 points several times in the second half.
"I thought in the first eight minutes we came out and played extremely hard defense," WVU Coach Mike Carey said. "That's what we do, we play hard defensively then we get our offense going. Our defense dictates that and gets us moving."
Christal Caldwell led West Virginia with 10 rebounds to go with her eight points, but the surprise line of the game for the Mountaineers came from Holmes. Holmes had missed each of WVU's last two games and Carey said he was unsure how much she would play against Marshall heading into Saturday's contest.
"She practiced yesterday and I didn't know how much I was going to play her, but she looked pretty good," he said.
For Marshall, Norrisha Victrum led the Herd with 13 points while Erica Woods chipped in with 11 points. Chelsey Romero also flirted with double-digit scoring, finishing with eight points.
Marshall was also dealt a blow Friday when it learned the team will be without starting center Chukwuka Ezeigbo for an extended amount of time. Daniel said Ezeigbo's father recently died in Nigeria and she travelled to Africa late this week to be with family.
"We'll be without her for about 17 days," he said.
To add to West Virginia's dominance both to the naked eye and on the stat sheet, three players -- Palmer, Linda Stepny and Brooke Hamtpon -- each had four assists.
"I think that West Virginia has the potential to be a Sweet 16 team," Daniel said. "I told Mike that before the game. They are athletic and big, have all the tools and a huge part of that is experience. They're a senior laden team that's been through the wars together and been around (Carey) and his dynamic personality."
WVU plays again Wednesday at home against Delaware State. Marshall's next game is scheduled for Thursday against Wofford in Huntington.
Contact sportswriter Tom Bragg at email@example.com or 304-348-4871. Follow him on Twitter @TomBraggSports.