Mountaineers try to get out of slump against Cincinnati
Published: Thursday, February 23, 2012
Updated: Friday, February 24, 2012 04:02
The West Virginia women's basketball team looks to get back on track as it travels to Cincinnati Saturday to take on the Bearcats after losing its last two games.
The Mountaineers (19-8, 9-5 Big East) battled hard Tuesday against a good St. John's team, but weren't able to make a comeback in the second half. Cincinnati (15-12, 6-8 Big East), meanwhile, has won four straight games – the last two by an average of 15 points.
Redshirt sophomore guard Dayeesha Hollins leads the Bearcats, averaging 14.6 points per game, while also averaging 4.2 rebounds per game. Cincinnati is led on the glass by sophomore forward Tiffany Turner and senior forward Chanel Chisholm with 5.9 and 5.8 rebounds per game, respectively
The Bearcats are a young team, with only two seniors on the roster, but they have a lot of height and length. Five players are at least 6-feet tall and five others are at least 5-foot-10 or 5-foot-11. So, West Virginia's low post players such as juniors Ayana Dunning and Asya Bussie will have another tough game on the inside in this matchup.
The Mountaineers managed to get the ball inside to Dunning in their last game against St. John's – giving her a career night with 21 points and 16 rebounds – something they failed to do in a miserable second half against DePaul last Saturday.
So, WVU will have to work the high-low posts once again and play to its strength against an athletic Cincinnati team.
Bussie still leads the team at 12 points per game, but is followed closely behind by redshirt sophomore guard Christal Caldwell, who averages 11.9 points per game and is third on the team with 6.4 rebounds per game, as well as sophomore guard Taylor Palmer, who averages 11.6 points per game despite seeing a decrease in minutes the second half of the season.
Dunning leads the team on the boards with 8.6 rebounds per game, while scoring 8.3 points per game. Her outside jumper has been much better in the latter part of the season as she has hit several shots from about 15 feet away from the basket over the last several games.
Getting easy buckets for Dunning and Bussie is going to be key for the Mountaineers to stop their two-game losing skid on the road this weekend.
During West Virginia's two-game losing streak, it has averaged just over seven points less than its season average, so running the offense efficiently will be crucial to getting the right looks at the basket at the right times.
Freshman guard Linda Stepney has done a nice job coming in as the starter by being aggressive and driving to the rim. Sophomore guard Brooke Hampton offers a nice replacement off of the bench, running the offense and looking for the right pass to set up the team's scorers. Both will have to execute and get the ball to other playmakers on the team to secure a win for the Mountaineers.
It's not easy coming into a hostile environment, especially against a team that is as hot as Cincinnati is right now. But, West Virginia is looking to get back to winning ways Saturday, and it needs more wins to secure its spot in the NCAA tournament next month.