WVU dominates Central Michigan to open Cancun Challenge

CANCUN, Mexico – The West Virginia University women’s basketball team opened the 2022 Cancun Challenge Thursday night with a dominant 64-33 victory over Central Michigan at Cancun’s Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya.

The Mountaineers (4-0, 0-0 Big 12) dominated the Chippewas (0-5, 0-0 MAC) in the game, leading by a whopping 31 points. What’s more, WVU’s defense put in another impressive performance, forcing 24 turnovers, including 15 steals. In addition, West Virginia cashed in 22 points of those opportunities.

Offensively, WVU shot 25 of 55 (45.5%) from the floor and scored 40 of 64 points in the paint.

West Virginia’s offense was led by a pair of double-digit scorers, including the fifth-year senior guard Madis Smith, who racked up a game-high 12 points. She was joined in double digits by sophomore guard JJ Quinerleywho finished with 10 points to go along with six rebounds, five assists and three steals.

Senior forward Tavy Diggs led WVU’s rebounding efforts, with eight, and added eight runs of its own.

The Mountaineers took the early lead in the game and eventually didn’t want to relinquish it, as they started the game with an 8-0 run. Central Michigan would add a count for the first media break, where WVU led 8-1.

The Chippewas would score first after halftime, but West Virginia would add eight more points to the tally to take a 16-6 lead after the first 10 minutes.

Quinerly sank a three-pointer to start the second and would add another score at the free-throw line to extend WVU’s lead to 14. West Virginia held onto that lead through the media timeout in the second quarter, where it was 22-8.

From there, the Mountaineers’ offense began to destroy the Chippewas, as they defeated CMU 10-2 in the next four minutes. Central Michigan narrowed the deficit from 22 points for the remainder of the quarter, but West Virginia continued to counter at the end of the field to lead CMU 36–18 at the half.

At the halfway point, Smith led all scorers with eight points, and West Virginia had converted 16 points of 14 turnovers in the first half by the Chippewas.

The two teams traded scores to begin the third quarter as the Mountaineers continued to hold a 20-point lead. After Smith tripled at 8:29 of the third inning, West Virginia again turned on the jets offensively, beating Central Michigan 10–2 in the next eight minutes to extend the lead to 30 runs.

After a pair of CMU free throws, WVU would take a 52-24 lead in the final 10 minutes of the game.

Both teams were scoreless for the first four minutes of the fourth quarter, but a pair of Central Michigan scores cut West Virginia’s lead to 25 points during the final media break. After the timeout, the Mountaineers got their lead back to 30 points and would roll out to their fourth win of the season.

West Virginia ends play at this year’s Cancun Challenge on Friday, November 25 against No. 13/11 NC State. A tip against the Wolfpack is scheduled for 4 p.m. ET, from the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya. Friday’s game will air on FloHoops and the Mountaineer Sports Network.

NC State opened its time at the Cancun Challenge on Thursday with an 82-73 victory over Vanderbilt. Jakia Turner-Brown led the team with 18 points, and Diamond Johnson racked up a team-high nine rebounds against the Commodores.

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