The West Virginia women’s basketball team will carry a seven-game win streak into Saturday’s matchup against in-state rival Marshall. The Mountaineers’ (7-1) early success this season can be attributed to the tactics used by head coach Mike Carey.
Carey has taken advantage of the defensive schemes drawn by senior center Asya Bussie. In WVU’s last match, Bussie was double-teamed by Fairleigh Dickinson for most of the game, so WVU’s head coach took advantage of the Knight’s defense and gave senior guard Taylor Palmer the starting nod.
Palmer, who is one WVU’s purest shooters, rewarded Carey’s decision by draining a season-best five threes. She finished her night with a game-high 25 points. Palmer runs the floor with her fellow senior guard Christal Caldwell.
Caldwell has been a tear lately, dropping 22 points in Tuesday’s game against Coppin State and 19 points in Saturday’s game against FDU. Caldwell’s 15.5 points per game leads the Mountaineers. Along with her scoring average, the senior also leads the team in steals per game (3.5) and assists per game (3.0).
Carey has developed a very deep bench this season and feels comfortable with everyone’s role.
“I think we’re deep. I think we’ve developed a bench. I think everyone has accepted their roles and knows what is expected of them,” Carey said about his reserve players.
Senior guard Brooke Hampton leads Carey’s bench. The Colts Neck, N.J., native led all bench scorers with 13 points. She hit three shots from behind the arc and dished out five assists. Hampton is a prime example of a player who has accepted her role in Carey’s system.
“(Brooke) knows she is going to play. She knows she is going to get a lot of time and you need to play with a lot of confidence. She is doing that,” Carey said. “We need Brooke to shoot to get people off our post players.”
West Virginia took the last game from the Thundering Herd at the Capital Classic in Charleston, W.Va., 64-48. Then true freshman Bria Holmes’ game-leading 15 points helped lift the Mountaineers to the Capital Classic trophy.
The Herd (2-4) is led in scoring by junior college transfer Leah Scott. Scott averages 12.5 points per game, while her next closest teammate averages only 8 points per game.
Defensively, Chukwuka Ezeigbo is Marshall’s best player. Ezeigbo brings in 7.8 rebounds per game and averages 2.2 block shots per game. The 6-foot-3 Ezeigbo’s matchup with West Virginia’s 6-foot-4 Bussie should the most interesting matchup of the entire game.
Saturday’s game is set to tip off at 1 p.m. and will air live throughout West Virginia on WVPS. Fans can also listen to the game live on WJAR.