Morgantown - The ninth-ranked West Virginia women's basketball team will open Big East competition, at 7 p.m. today as they tipoff with Villanova in the Pavilion.
Today's game is the start of Big East play for both the Wildcats and the Mountaineers. Villanova enters the contest with a 5-3 overall record and a 3-1 home record. The Mountaineers are 8-0 overall and have yet to play a true road game as they recorded a 3-0 record at the Paradise Jam, a neutral site.
Villanova is well-rehearsed in hitting 3-point shots, having recorded 12 3-pointers in three different games this season. Having outscored its opponents 231-105 from 3-point range this season, the Wildcats average 10.7 3-pointers a game to lead the nation.
Sophomore Rachel Roberts leads the 3-point efforts as she shoots 56 percent (14-25) from beyond the arc, the eighth-highest average in the country. Lindsay Kimmel leads all scoring efforts as she averages 12.4 points per game on 41 percent (34-83) shooting from the field. Kimmel has also recorded the most shots from downtown as she has 26 3-pointers this season. Defensively, Laura Sweeney averages 6.1 rebounds a game and leads the team in blocks with nine.
Guarding the perimeter, WVU has held opponents to only 23.8 percent shooting from 3-point range, the second-best average in the Big East and 18th in all of Division I. The Mountaineers have held all opponents to under 60 points, limiting Delaware State to as few as 31 points. Every opponent has been held to less than 50 percent shooting from the field as WVU's defense allows an average of 48.9 points per game, the sixth-lowest defensive average in the nation.
WVU's senior Madina Ali has used 66.7 percent (48-72) shooting from the field to emerge as the Mountaineers' scoring leader. Her field-goal percentage leads the Big East and ranks as the fourth-highest in the nation. Ali leads all players as she averages 15.0 points per game. Behind Ali, Liz Repella averages 13.9 ppg and true freshman Taylor Palmer has moved up to the top three scorers as she averages 7.6 ppg.