No. 10 West Virginia 66, Delaware St. 31
A defensive gem made West Virginia coach Mike Carey feel better about his team heading into the Paradise Jam.
Madina Ali scored 13 points and No. 10 West Virginia never trailed in a 66-31 win over cold-shooting Delaware State on Friday night.
It marked the fewest points allowed by West Virginia since a 53-31 win over Seton Hall last January.
This game was more about correcting mistakes and getting ready for next week's tournament in the Virgin Islands than it was about facing Delaware State, which was making its season debut and owns just one win against a Big East team in school history.
West Virginia (3-0) will play No. 23 TCU, Virginia and No. 19 Iowa State over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
''I told them in there, reality's going to hit real quick,'' Carey said. ''But that's good. The best thing that can happen to this team right now is go play teams of that caliber. Win or lose, we need to go play teams like that and see where we're at going into the Big East.''
Carey wasn't sure after Wednesday's 69-58 win over Duquesne whether the Mountaineers were ready for the tournament because of a lack of ball movement and poor decision making that included 20 turnovers.
Some of those issues were fixed quickly against the Hornets, who were without their top two scorers from the team that went 6-24 a year ago.
Carey had threatened to substitute fewer players if that meant getting the job done correctly, but he relented and used his entire bench. Eleven different players scored for the Mountaineers.
West Virginia committed 20 turnovers again -most of them from the reserves - but got 36 points from near the basket and was never threatened.
Delaware State's deliberate offense tried to eat up shot-clock time and keep the score low. It only added to opportunities for the Mountaineers, who often stole passes meant for the interior, leading to plenty of fast-break points. West Virginia forced 30 turnovers resulting in 35 points.
''I just thought we played a little bit harder,'' Carey said. ''We took them out of their sets. They were just out there dribbling.''
Another one of Carey's goals was getting his team to the Caribbean healthy, and that almost didn't happen. Sarah Miles, the reigning Big East defensive player of the year in her second game back since undergoing wrist surgery, took a hard foul and fell to the floor midway through the second half. Four teammates helped her up. Miles made both free throws before going to the bench for good.
Most of West Virginia's starters joined her after that.
West Virginia's point production has dwindled each game since getting 80 points in the season opener, and Ali especially wasn't pleased with the Mountaineers' effort on offense.
''In the first half, we started out really well with a lot of energy,'' Ali said. ''But we have our moments when we get kind of sloppy.''
Delaware State went more than eight minutes between field goals, shot 3 of 30 (10 percent) from the floor in the first half and trailed 34-11 at halftime. The Hornets shot 19 percent for the game.
No Hornets players scored in double figures.
Liz Repella and Vanessa House each added 10 points for the Mountainers, who won their 22nd straight home game and improved to 55-3 all time against non-conference opponents at home.
''We're going to the Virgin Islands and we're playing three really good teams,'' Repella said. ''We can beat Delaware State playing how we did, but we've got to play better when we go to the Virgin Islands. It will be a good test for us.''