SOUTH ORANGE, N.J. -- Up by 19 points at halftime, coach Mike Carey made it a point to tell West Virginia (No. 7 ESPN/USA Today, No. 6 AP) that Seton Hall was one of those scrappy teams that wasn't going to go away.
The message didn't hit home and the Mountaineers' best start in school history was in jeopardy for a couple minutes.
Liz Repella scored a season-high 24 points and West Virginia (15-0, 2-0 Big East) survived its early second-half nap to post a 67-46 victory over the Pirates on Wednesday.
"I told them we had to start the second half like the score was 0-0, and we came out and let them make a 10-0 run," Carey said. "All the things we told them not to do -- we wanted them to stay up in the lanes, we wanted to reverse the ball and move the ball -- and we went one-on-one and took some bad shots and didn't play well defensive.
"Give them credit," Carey said. "They were ready to play in the second half."
Seton Hall (7-8, 0-2) probably played its best seven minutes under new coach Anne Donovan in those seven minutes, outscoring the Mountaineers 19-3. A jumper by Kandice Green with 13:22 to go capped the spurt and got the Pirates within 41-38.
Carey called a time out and called a play for Repella, his senior co-captain and leading scorer. She delivered her fourth 3-pointer of the game and that ignited a 15-0 run that put the Mountaineers back on track.
"We were a step slow coming out of the gate," said Repella, who hit 10 of 16 from the field in topping her previous season-high of 20 against St. Bonaventure. "All year our defense leads our offense, and we weren't playing good defense in the beginning of the second half. Once we started playing our defense and hitting a couple of shots, it started going our way again."
West Virginia, which came into the game with the nation's top defense, limited Seton Hall to eight points in the final 13:21 and also got three big layups from senior guard Sarah Miles.
"I'll take anything to get me going again," said Miles, who only got back into the lineup recently after being sidelined by a knee injury.
Carey said that having a veteran team helped West Virginia survive the scare.
"We have a lot of seniors and a lot of people who have been through this before," said Carey, who has taken West Virginia to the NCAA tournament three of the past four years. "We ran the quick hitter for Liz and she hit the 3 and Sarah got to the rim and we got our defense going again."
Madina Ali had 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Mountaineers, who held Seton Hall to 27.8 percent shooting from the field.
Jasmine Crew and Green scored 10 points apiece for the Pirates, while Brittany Morris helped the second-half run by scoring all nine of her points with 3-point shots.
"We have to take those seven minutes and put them on video to remind us of how well we can play and how well we can compete in games," Donovan said. "Now we need to stretch those seven minutes out longer and longer."
The thing that might have hurt Seton Hall the most was having Crew foul out with more than nine minutes to play. The guard controlled the Pirates' offense and it disappeared after she went to the bench.
Donovan said the only adjustment the Pirates made in the second half was to stick with their man-to-man defense and to limit their play calls on offense to Crew penetrating and Morris setting up for 3-pointers.
"The victory for me is seeing how they fight," Donovan said. "You're down 20 [actually 19] and what are you going to do about it. We talk all the time about your character and it shows when you are down, in the hard times, not the good times, and they showed what great character they had in the second half."