MORGANTOWN, West Virginia - No. 17 West Virginia used a 20-0 run midway through the second half to pull away from UNCW and record a 76-47 victory in collegiate women's basketball action Friday at the WVU Coliseum.
In the season opener for both programs, junior Christi Caldwell led three Mountaineer players in double figures with a game-high 21 points while fellow junior Taylor Palmer chipped in 13. Senior Ayana Dunning pitched in 11 points to go along with a game-high 10 rebounds to record a double-double.
Leading 49-37 with 8:31 remaining in the second half, a layup by freshman Bria Holmes sparked the Mountaineers to the game-changing run that lasted more than five minutes and saw seven different players record a point as West Virginia took its largest lead of the game, 69-37, with 3:15 remaining.
A pair of free throws by Atkins ended the run and started an 8- 2 spurt for the Seahawks that would make it a 71-45 contest with 51 seconds on the clock. The Mountaineers tallied five of the last seven points of the game to determine the final 29-point margin.
In the first half, West Virginia scored the first six points of the game on its way to building an early 16-6 advantage.
The Mountaineers would take their biggest lead of the first half, 29-14, on a three-pointer by Caldwell at the 4:24 mark before a pair of free throws by freshman Dana Brown would spark the Seahawks to score seven of the last nine points of the frame and make it a 31-21 contest at the break.
West Virginia scored five of the first seven points of the second half to take a 36-22 lead, only to see the Seahawks respond with a 9-2 spurt to make it a 38-31 contest.
The Mountaineers regained their 14-point cushion moments later, scoring eight of the next nine points to build a 46-32 cushion with 11:54 remaining. The two sides would trade baskets over the three minutes until Holmes' basket at the 8:31 mark would start the decisive spurt.
UNCW returns to action Nov. 14 with a 6:30 p.m. contest against state foe Wake Forest. West Virginia is back on the court Monday with a 7 p.m. tip at Boston University.
The Seahawks opened the season against a ranked opponent for the first time in program history. UNCW moved to 0-26 all-time in games against teams ranked in the top 25.
The Seahawks moved to 21-19 all-time in season openers with the loss to the Mountaineers. It also marked the second straight season that the Seahawks opened the season with a setback.
Head Coach Adell Harris became the first Seahawks head coach to lose their UNCW debut since Susan Yow suffered a 77-54 setback at UNC Greensboro on Nov. 28, 1993.
The 47 points by the Seahawks represented the lowest point total for the Seahawks in a season opener since scoring 44 points in a 49-44 loss to Campbell in Nov. 17, 2001.
West Virginia enjoyed a 32-14 advantage in points in the paint, highlighted by a 20-10 edge in the first half.
West Virginia posted a 17-6 advantage in points off turnovers as it forced the Seahawks into 23 turnovers.
The Mountaineers enjoyed a 49-36 advantage on the glass, highlighted by a 28-15 margin in the second half.
West Virginia recorded a 17-4 edge in points off turnovers, including a 14-0 margin in the second half.