DURHAM, N.C. -- A start of five dominant minutes was all West Virginia (No. 7 ESPN/USA Today, No. 6 AP) needed to win its 12th straight game.
West Virginia scored the game's first 20 points and Liz Repella finished with 17 to help the Mountaineers knock off North Carolina Central 71-39 Tuesday night.
"We're happy with the win, but we didn't play to our potential," Repella said. "We know that. We know that with Big East play coming, we need to get better. Tonight we didn't get better."
West Virginia scored on nine of its first 10 possessions in the first five minutes. All five starters made field goals during that stretch for the Mountaineers, who opened 8 for 10 from the floor.
Korinne Campbell and Ali Madina each added 11 points for the Mountaineers, who are off to the first 12-0 start in their program's history.
Asya Bussie and Jessica Harlee had 10 points apiece for West Virginia.
Chasidy Williams scored 10 points to lead the Eagles (2-9), who shot 21.7 percent from the floor. N.C. Central was playing the program's first home game against a ranked Division I opponent.
"What we didn't do is we didn't fall apart," N.C. Central coach Joli Robinson said. "We could have easily fallen apart, and they could have run away with the game quickly. But we didn't do that."
The Mountaineers survived a season-high 22 turnovers, winning by at least 30 points for the sixth time this season. They led 38-20 at halftime.
"We got the big lead, and we got sloppy," Mountaineers coach Mike Carey said. "We got lackadaisical and got sloppy. But I told them in there that we're 12-0 for the first time in school history. They've got a lot to be proud of, realizing that they've got a lot of working coming up when we get into Big East play."
West Virginia scored on nine of its first 10 possessions to take a 20-0 lead five minutes into the game. All five starters made field goals during that stretch for the Mountaineers, who opened 8 for 10 from the floor.
Repella led the charge, making a pair of jumpers, including a 3-pointer. Campbell and Ali each added two transition baskets after steals.
N.C. Central missed its first four shots and committed five turnovers before Alesha Jenkins made a layup with 14:49 remaining in the first half.
The Eagles outscored the Mountaineers 20-18 over the final 15 minutes of the first half, making 12 of 14 free throws. N.C. Central shot 4 for 22 from the field and had one assist to go with 15 turnovers in the first half.
The Eagles cut West Virginias lead to 45-30 with 13 minutes remaining in the game, but the Mountaineers pulled away with a 17-2 spurt. Harlee ignited the run with two layups, a jumper and a floating scoop shot.
The Eagles went nearly nine minutes without a field goal, making a pair of free throws as West Virginia extended its lead to 62-32 with 4:30 to play.
N.C. Central made 1 of 9 3-pointers, and finished with three assists and 27 turnovers.
"We got some steals and ran our break," Repella said. "We had a lot of two-on-ones, and we converted on them. Our offense stems from our defense, and that's when we're at our best: when we're playing good defense."
Stephanie White, Lin Dunn and Carolyn Peck know what it takes to succeed in women's basketball. Their return to the college level should boost the SEC and is good for the game overall.
|North Carolina A&T||12-4||-||19-12|
|South Carolina State||7-9||5||13-16|
|North Carolina Central||3-13||9||5-23|