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WVU Women’s Basketball HC Mark Kellogg Knows Team Has Plenty of Room to Grow After Messy Brawl Win



WVU women's basketball HC Mark Kellogg
Image credit to WVU Athletics

The WVU Women’s Basketball team earned a 71-62 victory over the Pittsburgh Panthers on Saturday in an error-filled matchup that fit the Backyard Brawl moniker. 

Even though West Virginia led for all but 24 seconds of the game, they still have plenty of room for improvement. The Panthers led them 46-29 in rebounds, and the wheels nearly came off as the Mountaineers didn’t score for more than six minutes across the end of the second period and the start of the third—prompting a 17-0 scoring run by Pitt. 

“We’ll have to get better from this, for sure,” head coach Mark Kellogg said following the game. “But as I always say, it’s better to win and get better than to have to lose to get better.”

Return of Press Virginia? 

West Virginia set the tone early, utilizing a press to force the Panthers into mistakes. Kellogg praised guards JJ Quinerly and Jordan Harrison for their ability to key the press from the defensive backcourt.

“Mostly it’s personnel. We have two pretty good guards up there that can really hound the ball, and then the next line in is pretty good too, and they can read some things,” Kellogg said.

Kellogg acknowledged that motivation for the Mountaineers’ “suffocating” press came from their excitement to play in the rivalry game, but also said it stems from their team mentality.

“Thought early on we were really, really good, kinda took it to them a little bit early,” Kellogg said. “That punch first mentality and make sure we’re ready to go from the jump…‘Impose your will’ is a statement that we use quite a bit.”

The Mountaineers certainly did impose their will, forcing a whopping 28 turnovers. 19 of those came in the first half, with 20 of West Virginia’s 39 first half points coming off turnovers. 

Kellogg also said he talked about starting fast after the Mountaineers failed to do so in their first game and practice scrimmages. With the Brawl as their only road game before Big 12 play begins—their upcoming games in the San Juan Shootout tournament all take place at a neutral site—the Mountaineers wanted to set the tone in a hostile environment.

“We hadn’t started some of our scrimmages [well] and even against Loyola I didn’t think we had a great start, so it’s something that we’ve talked about,” Kellogg said. “It’s not always gonna look like that, of course, but some of those turnovers led to some easy buckets. From there it just settles you down, I think is what it does.”

Mountaineers Keep It Cool

West Virginia’s intensity waned as the game went on, though. After leading by 19 points midway through the second period, the Mountaineers let the Panthers back in the game.

Kellogg noted that Quinerly and forward Kylee Blacksten running into foul trouble before halftime changed the outlook for the Mountaineers. “I thought that kinda changed the complexion of the game,” Kellogg said.

Pitt claimed a 40-39 lead just 3:14 into the third period, a moment where Kellogg admitted he wasn’t sure which way the game would go. Guard Lauren Fields sank two quick three pointers to reestablish the lead, and West Virginia never looked back.

Kellogg described the calm with which WVU Women’s Basketball plays as a two-edged sword: they may have ice in their veins, sure, but there are times when he wants to see more fire. 

“There’s times they’re very even-keeled–and I think that’s a good thing–but then there’s moments like ‘guys, okay, the even keel’s not good right now. There’s a problem, we need to fix it, show me some emotion,’” Kellogg said. “They just kinda look at you like ‘coach, we got it.’”

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