Unblemished Mountaineers hold Bearcats to 19.7 percent shooting

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- West Virginia (No. 7 ESPN/USA Today, No. 6 AP) toyed with Cincinnati in the second half, then showed down the stretch why the Mountaineers have the nation's top scoring defense.

After letting Cincinnati close to within 10 points, the Mountaineers finished with a 26-8 run over the final 11 minutes and beat the Bearcats 72-44 on Saturday.

West Virginia (16-0, 3-0 Big East) never trailed and remained one of two unbeaten teams in Division I -- along with No. 3 Duke (15-0). The Mountaineers extended the best start in school history and improved their school-record home winning streak to 28 games.

"It is a work in progress and it's good to be 16-0 working on it," said West Virginia coach Mike Carey.

For those victories to keep coming, Carey admitted that his team can't let up.

"They've got to buy into what we're saying. That's what wins for us -- defense," Carey said. "That's always been my philosophy. Defense, rebounding and shot selection wins the game."

The Mountaineers held Cincinnati to just 19.7 percent shooting (12 of 61) for the game and blocked a season-high 17 shots. The Bearcats (8-7, 1-2) lost for the seventh time in 10 games.

"They are the No. 1 team in the country in defensive scoring for a reason," said Cincinnati coach Jamelle Elliott. "They are physical. They deny you the ball. They switch every screen. They are athletic and they have some size to them. It was hard for us to get a shot."

West Virginia's Madina Ali had 15 points and 11 rebounds for her fourth double-double of the season and the eighth of her career.

"It's about studying and knowing what you're capable of," Ali said. "We've still got a lot of places where we can get better."

Liz Repella added 11 points and Asya Bussie had 10 for the Mountaineers, who won despite being outrebounded 46-42.

Repella, Bussie and Korinne Campbell had five blocks apiece.

"A lot of those shots we blocked were when they outhustled us and got the ball out on the floor," Carey said. "The game was sloppy, but that's how they play. We gave up a lot of offensive rebounds, so we have to correct that.

"At times we did OK, but we have to continue to get better. I thought there were spurts where we got better and spurts where we went back to the way we've been doing with standing around."

Ali scored 10 points in the first half to help West Virginia to a 38-24 halftime lead.

The Bearcats pulled to 46-36 on Jeanise Randolph's free throw with 11:52 left but they got no closer.

Shareese Ulis led Cincinnati with 16 points on 4 of 16 shooting. Chanel Chisholm led the Bearcats with eight rebounds.

The Mountaineers outscored the Bearcats 38-12 in the paint.

"They took us out of what we were trying to run for the most part," Elliott said. "They were quick on both sides of the floor. At the end of the day, the stats say it all. We were open, but we were not able to make it happen. This is by far the best defensive team that we have faced all year long."

West Virginia shot 45.5 percent (25 of 55) from the floor, with Ali hitting 6 of 10 shots and Repella making 4 of 8.