West Virginia guard Bria Holmes, the preseason Big 12 player of the year, made sure her squad kicked off the 2014-15 season on a positive note at home Saturday as the Mountaineers topped Eastern Kentucky, 67-42, in the opening round of the WNIT.
Holmes finished with 23 points; West Virginia will host Seton Hall on Monday at 7 p.m. EST in the quarterfinals. Eastern Kentucky will play Nov. 21 in the consolation round.
Holmes’ productivity late in the first half helped West Virginia (1-0) build a 30-19 lead at the break, as she scored 17 points. The Colonels (0-1) struggled to keep up in the first 20 minutes thanks to 11 turnovers and a chilly 25 percent shooting percentage from the field, and they allowed the Mountaineers to enjoy a 12-0 run to end the half.
West Virginia used its depth to build its lead in the second half, where a 9-0 run made it 51-31 with about nine minutes to go. Senior guard Linda Stepney scored 13 points and added seven rebounds for the Mountaineers; Averee Fields added 12 points. West Virginia did labor in one category, going just 13-of-22 from the free-throw line.
Eastern Kentucky was paced by three players who scored eight points – Michaela Hunter, Mariah Massengill and Shameekia Murray. Hunter also had seven rebounds. The Colonels finished shooting just 27 percent from the field, had 19 turnovers and also struggled with free throws, going 9-for-19.