TEANECK, NJ- The 80-52 score can be deceiving. There was no doubt West Virginia was too much for Fairleigh Dickinson but this was a bit more competitive than the score hints. For FDU it came down to dropping a battle of attrition.
One of the first questions asked of West Virginia Coach Mike Carey was how did a BCS school as West Virginia agree to come to the Rothman Center to play FDU. "It was a two for one deal," Carey said. We agreed to play here on the road and they (FDU) will come to our place two straight years. We also like to recruit from this (New York, New Jersey area),'
Carey Continued. "Since we recruit here it is important for us to have visibility like coming back for a game. A lot of other schools in this area would not play us."
FDU was willing and for the better part of 25 minutes, stayed competitive. They led early by five, trailed 40-29 at the half then got it to a two possession game shortly following intermission. "They make a few free throws and they are around a little longer," Carey said of the Knights. "They are a team that plays very hard. I see them doing some damage in their league (Northeast Conference)."
"We got some positives out of this game," FDU coach Pete Cinella said. "We were down six early to a top 25 team, we just ran out of gas, they powered by us. Virginia enjoyed appreciable size over the Knights. Not only up front but the guard position as well. That was evident as FDU was forced to initiate their offense farther than normal due to the Mountaineer size in the backcourt.
Regardless, Cinella was pleased with the effort. Especially under the boards. "We rebounded with them," he said. "That is an accomplishment to rebound with a ranked team." FDU's main problem? "We stopped scoring," Cinella answered. With the West Virginia defense having a lot to do with that. On the perimeter 6-1 Bria Holmes had four steals one block and some tough defense not completely revealed in the box score. Lanay Montgomery, a 6-5 center and inside presence, blocked five shots and came up with three steals as well.
The rebounding numbers revealed West Virginia with a 39-32 advantage. The Knights were competitive though, highlighted by 13 offensive rebounds. The scoring was a problem. FDU shot 37% from the floor and had one double figure scorer, Kelsey Cruz, with 15. Erika Livermore did add 9 points and 8 rebounds, a respectable effort against the interior size of the Mountaineers.
West Virginia put three players in double digits with Holmes scoring a game high 25 points. West Virginia shot 54% from the field, aided in no small part by a 16-2 edge in transition points.
The win improved West Virginia to 5-1. Till, Carey sees work to be done. "We need to run our sets better," he said. "We lost five seniors from last year so we are a little inexperienced. Defensively we need to get better. With the Big XII we need to get ready for that competition. At any rate I'll gladly take a 5-1 start."
Former West Virginia standout from the Eighties, Lester Rowe is an assistant with the Women's program. Rowe began his coaching career on the men's side under Gale Catlett. In June of 2011 he then joined Mike Carey's staff. Like many who move over from the men's to women's coaching ranks, Rowe enjoys working with the latter, citing their desire to learn and striving for fundamentals mastery as major points.