West Virginia knocks off Syracuse for 29th straight home win

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Madina Ali was making shots from near and far and that helped West Virginia (No. 7 ESPN/USA Today, No. 6 AP) bounce back from its first loss of the season.

Ali scored a career-high 32 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and the Mountaineers used a late run to preserve a 70-61 win over Syracuse (No. 25 AP) on Saturday.

"It feels good knowing that I'm out there helping the team in any way I can," Ali said. "We need that energy and everyone brings that on different occasions. Today it just happened to fall the way it did."

West Virginia (17-1, 4-1 Big East) bounced back from a 69-54 loss at Marquette on Tuesday. The Mountaineers improved their school-record home winning streak to 29 games and moved to 3-0 against ranked teams this season.

"I was proud of them," West Virginia coach Mike Carey said. "They came out and played with a lot of heart and we did what we had to do to win."

Syracuse now has its first losing streak of the season. The Orange lost at home to Rutgers 78-67 on Tuesday.

"You can see why West Virginia is a top 10 team," said Syracuse coach Quentin Hillsman. "They came up down the stretch and did some physical things and some hustle things to turn the tide of the game."

Ali eclipsed her previous high of 20 points set earlier this season against Prairie View. She had led the Mountaineers in scoring for much of the season but saw her average drop in recent weeks to 13 points, second on the team to Repella's 14-point average.

Ali made 10 of 19 shots and 11 of 15 free throws against the Orange for her fifth double-double of the season and the ninth of her career.

"Madina was everywhere tonight, rebounding, scoring and she hit a 3," said Repella, who finished with 12 points. "She played an awesome game today and really picked us up and put us on her shoulders."

Elashier Hall scored 20 points for Syracuse (13-4, 1-3), which was playing only its second road game of the season. Leading scorer Kayla Alexander went scoreless in the second half and was held to four points, 10 below her average.

Neither team shot well. West Virginia went 23 of 56 (41 percent) from the floor, while Syracuse shot 20 of 51 (39 percent).

West Virginia was outrebounded 23-11 in the second half and 39-36 for the game.

The Mountaineers went ahead to stay, 48-47, on two Repella free throws midway through the second half.

Syracuse kept pace until the end against the nation's top scoring defense. Erica Morrow's jumper brought Syracuse to 56-54 with 5:40 left, but the Orange didn't get another basket until the closing seconds.

Brooke Hampton and Ali each sank 3-pointers after that, with Ali making her first of the season. Ali then started the decisive 8-0 run with an inside basket after a Repella miss with 1:51 left that put the Mountaineers ahead 64-59.

Morrow and Iasia Hemingway had 12 points apiece for Syracuse.