MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Back at home after a successful trip to the Virgin Islands, Madina Ali and West Virginia picked up right where they left off.
Ali had 20 points and 10 rebounds, Liz Repella added 17 points and the 10th-ranked Mountaineers beat Elon 90-51 on Thursday night.West Virginia (7-0) is off to its best start since going 9-0 in the 2004-05 season. The Mountaineers earned their 23rd straight home win and improved to 56-3 against nonconference opponents at home.The Mountaineers, coming off double-digit wins over Iowa State (No. 17 ESPN/USA Today, No. 19 AP), Virginia and TCU at the Paradise Jam, made nine of their first 11 shots against the Phoenix and opened with a 37-4 run over the first 12 minutes."A lot of people thought this would be a trap game for us coming off that tournament and having to play three straight nights," West Virginia coach Mike Carey said. "I thought we'd be a little tired, but we started the first four minutes well."Led by Ali's third double-double of the season, West Virginia outrebounded Elon 53-27 and outscored the Phoenix in the paint 44-16.Ali also outdueled Elon's Kelsey Evans, who was averaging 13.7 points and 11.2 rebounds per game. Evans was held to four points and eight boards."I thought Madina Ali again was our energy," Carey said. "Her emotions she plays with, the intensity she plays with is contagious."Ali Ford led Elon (4-3) with 15 points on 6-of-19 shooting and had 11 turnovers. Elon had 24 total turnovers and was limited to 37 percent shooting (20-of-54)."Defense to us is always important," Ali said. "Not to backtrack or anything, but I think we still wanted to show that energy we had from the Virgin Islands and actually bring it to the home court. If we're playing defense and enjoying ourselves, the offense just automatically comes to us."Asya Bussie had 10 points and 11 rebounds for the Mountaineers and Ayana Dunning finished with 10 points.West Virginia freshman Brooke Hampton got her third start in place of the injured Sarah Miles, the reigning Big East defensive player of the year. Hampton, who has just three turnovers all season, had none Thursday night, along with four steals and three assists.Miles missed her second straight game after suffering a knee injury at the Paradise Jam in the Virginia Islands. There is no timetable for her return.