CHARLESTON - The women's basketball programs from West Virginia University and Marshall University have been challenging one another on the court since 1974. But never had the Mountain State fans witnessed a contest like the one provided during last year's Capital Classic at the Civic Center.
Led by a smothering defense that limited the Thundering Herd to 8 percent shooting in the first half (2 of 25) and 11.1 percent for the game (5 of 45), the Mountaineers registered the biggest margin of victory in the series' history-57 points-to capture a 78-21 win.
From the opening tip, running off the game's first 10 points before a jumper by Adrian Randall got the Herd on the board at the 14:53 mark of the first half. Marshall would pull to within 11, 18-7, on a free throw by Tynikki Crook, but that would be as close as the green and white would get as Korinne Campbell's triple with 9:14 remaining until the intermission ignited a 23-4 run by the old gold and blue that gave WVU a comfortable, 41-11, lead at the half.
All, but one Mountaineer would crack the scoring column as the team improved to 17-1 on the season. Ayana Dunning led the way with 16 points and seven rebounds while Taylor Palmer chipped in with 14 points. Brooke Hampton added nine points and Madina Ali and Vanessa House finished with eight apiece as WVU improved to 34-13 over its instate rival.
Marshall, which dropped to 5-11 on the campaign, was led by five points each by Randall and Tessa Johnson.
What a difference a year makes.
Heading into today's 7 p.m. clash at the Civic Center WVU is 12-5 overall and 3-2 in Big East play following a 51-48 loss at Providence on Saturday while Marshall is 12-4, including a 3-1 record in Conference USA play. The Thundering Herd suffered its first conference loss on Sunday, dropping a 55-53 decision to SMU.
Dunning, Palmer and Hampton will again be on the floor for the old gold and blue while Randall and Johnson are no longer on the roster in Huntington.
Palmer, WVU's leading scorer at 13.5 points per game, is coming off of a 13-point performance in the loss against the Friars while Dunning was held to two points and Hampton failed to score. Junior Asya Bussie is second on the team in scoring at 12.9 ppg while newcomer Christal Caldwell chips in with 9.9. Dunning is WVU's leading rebounder, averaging 7.6 per contest.
Newcomer Jasmine Shaw paces the Herd attack with an 8.1 points per game average while senior Lateidra Elliott chips in 7.7 points per contest and junior Erica Woods is at 7.6.
WVU leads the all-time series, 34-16, including nine wins in the last 10 outings as well as six straight.