Mountaineers look to shake off Baylor loss on the road vs. Texas
Published: Tuesday, March 5, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, March 5, 2013 08:03
The West Virginia women’s basketball team will travel to Austin, Texas, tonight to take on the Longhorns in a contest that will serve as the team’s regular season finale.
The Mountaineers (17-11, 9-8) narrowly defeated Texas in a Jan. 9 matchup in the Coliseum and will look to complete the season sweep tonight.
It’s a game West Virginia head coach Mike Carey said his team needs to win.
"Yesterday in practice, I told them we when we had six games left we had to win four out of the six, and we’ve won three of the five, so now we have to go finish," Carey said.
"We’re still on target where we thought we had to be, but we’re going to go play a Texas team that’s a very good basketball team. (They’re) playing a lot better right now, (have) a lot more confidence and we’re going to have to play well."
One advantage to this game is the Mountaineers have already faced Texas and aren’t dealing with the unknowns of facing an opponent for the first time.
The nature of the Big 12 schedule allows for each team to play each other twice, which Carey said makes the coaches and players both feel more comfortable.
"We have learned what the Big 12 is about a little bit now. I think the different teams, seeing these teams for the second time, I think our players are more comfortable, and I know we are, as coaches, more comfortable with what we’re going to see," he said.
Redshirt senior center Ayana Dunning said Texas will provide a unique challenge because the game will also serve as the Longhorns’ senior night.
"It’s Texas’ senior night. They’re going to play aggressive, (and) they’re going to play hard," Dunning said.
The game will have an impact on the Mountaineers’ seeding for the Big 12 Conference tournament – something Dunning said the team realizes is very important.
"I don’t think anyone is taking this game lightly. I know coach Carey said a while back we have to win four out of our next six, so we’re three out of five so far, so this is a must win for us," she said.
The Mountaineers will have the opportunity to bypass the opening round of the Big 12 conference tournament, which Dunning said is a welcoming notion and can help the Mountaineers in its quest for a conference title.
"I also think having a bye is beneficial because we haven’t had one in the past (and) having to play so many games to get to the championship round. This way we already have a bye, and it’s less games for us to hopefully play in that championship game," she said.
Texas (11-17, 4-13) features two players who finish in double-figure scoring and are one of the conferences’ premier rebounding teams; the Longhorns outrebound opponents by an average margin of almost six rebounds per game. It’s a statistic Carey said he and the team plan to address.
"They’re big. They’re the biggest team we’ve played all year," he said. "They’re huge, and we’re going to have to be able to control the boards a little bit – at least be even with them."