Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV


February 26, 2014

Column: WVU at home tonight, trying to catch up with Baylor

MORGANTOWN — The great West Virginia University women’s basketball team advanced from No. 13 to No. 11 this week in The Associated Press rankings.

Then, on Tuesday, the USA Today Poll put the Mountaineers into the Top 10. They are now in the No. 10 spot.

That followed victories against No. 15 Oklahoma State 77-45 here last Wednesday and then winning by 61-40 at Kansas State last Saturday.

The Mountaineers, who are on a seven-game winning streak, own a sparkling 24-3 overall record and are 12-3 in Big 12 Conference competition.

In the process, the WVU women have held five of their last six Big 12 opponents under 62 points.

This is the seventh time in the last 10 years that veteran head coach Mike Carey guided his teams to records of 20 or more victories in each season.

The first in that string was 21-13 in 2005-06, his third year at the WVU helm.

The best came in 2009-10 when the Mountaineers peaked at 29-6, including 13-3 and second place in the Big East Conference.

With five seniors leading the way, West Virginia has been especially impressive winning Big 12 games away from home. The Mountaineers won their last two games without Brooke Hampton, 5-foot-9 senior guard from Colts Neck, N.J.

She underwent surgery on Feb. 12. She has been providing verbal support for her teammates from the bench. But it’s uncertain whether she’ll be able to play in any postseason games.

Bria Holmes, 6-1 sophomore, is the leading scorer this season with 14.4 points per game. Asya Bussie, 6-4 senior center, is second with 13.0 points per game.

Bussie also is the top rebounder with 7.8 per outing.

Significantly, the women’s team has a shot at catching Big 12 leader Baylor and finishing in the Top 10 of the national polls. Baylor just gained another game on WVU by winning a 96-89 shootout with Oklahoma on Monday night at home. The Bears now are 25-3 overall and remain No. 1 in the league standings (15-1).

With their 24-3 record for all games to date, the Mountaineers have the fewest losses of any team outside the Top 10 and have the same or fewer losses than the five teams ahead of them.

The last time West Virginia was ranked in the nation’s Top 10 was No. 8 on Jan. 11, 2011.

The highest ever in women’s basketball program history was No. 6 on Dec. 20, 2010, and it stood for six consecutive weeks.

WVU should be heavily favored to extend its winning streak to eight games tonight when Texas Tech visits the Coliseum. That game will begin at 7 p.m.

Tech’s women have yet to win a Big 12 Conference game this season, so they’re 0-15 and occupying last place in the league standings.

The visitors are 6-20 overall.

Then, on Sunday, the Mountaineers will be at Baylor for a 2 p.m. showdown before returning home on Tuesday, March 4, for their regular-season finale against Kansas at 7 p.m.

Carey admittedly couldn’t be happier or more proud of his players and staff. He has full confidence in playing as many as nine players in each game.

He is especially pleased about the leadership provided by the team’s five seniors, the same number on his earlier club that earned 29 wins.

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