Mountaineers welcome top-ranked Baylor
Published: Friday, March 1, 2013
Updated: Friday, March 1, 2013 08:03
The West Virginia women’s basketball team will have its second opportunity to shock the nation on Saturday night when No. 1 Baylor comes to town for Senior Night.
The Lady Bears, led by 6-foot-8 senior center Brittney Griner, have been on a tear since their two-point loss to Stanford earlier this season. BU has not lost another game and has been the team to beat.
Baylor has beaten No. 3 Connecticut on the road this season, and it hasn’t lost a conference game yet this year. Griner has been a big part of the Lady Bears’ success. In the first meeting between Baylor and West Virginia, the National Player of the Year nearly had a triple-double in blocks on top of her routine double-double.
WVU (17-10, 9-7 Big 12) will attempt to end Baylor’s 25-game winning streak, including the perfect 16-0 conference mark. In the first meeting between the two schools this season, Baylor was able to earn an 18-point victory thanks to Griner’s domination.
"I thought we competed for the most part," said head coach Mike Carey following the 76-58 loss. "We missed a lot of foul shots (12-of-29). (Brittney) Griner is the best player in the country bar none.
"She just opens up so many more people on the floor that you really wouldn’t have to help off of, but then they become effective and start getting hot."
The Lady Bears will be coming into the game with a 27-1 overall record. Against Oklahoma Monday night, Griner surpassed former Connecticut Huskie Maya Moore for fourth on the NCAA scoring list. Going into the game, the senior needed eight points, and she was able to go for 15 points, 15 rebounds and seven blocks.
"For me it’s exciting (to have her last home game against Brittney Griner)," said senior center Ayana Dunning. "We’re expecting a big crowd to come out and support us as we play the best team right now in the country and one of the best players to play women’s basketball, so I’m excited about it."
In the first meeting, Dunning was held scoreless mainly due to Griner’s defensive prowess and height advantage.
"They’re a great team. They’re No. 1 for a reason," Carey said after WVU’s win over Kansas State Tuesday night. "I thought our girls at their place played extremely hard. We lost by 18, but missed 17 foul shots. Griner had a great game, but we’re not going to back down from Griner.
"She may set a NCAA record for most blocks in a game. I don’t care; we’re taking it to her. So, we’re not going to back down. We’re going to attack. Our girls will come out and play hard."
WVU will be going into the game after its 66-57 victory over Kansas State three days ago. In the very important win, Dunning and junior guard Christal Caldwell both pitched in 15 points. The Mountaineers shot 42.6 percent from the field on the night, but the first half performance wasn’t always pretty.
"I told them we were going to come out flat, and we did," he said. "You do what you do in practice. The last two days in practice we didn’t play hard, (and) we didn’t take it serious. Second half I thought we played harder and a lot better than the first half.
"(I) give them (Kansas State) a lot of credit. I thought our girls got refocused in the second half. Now is the time we have to stay focused. That’s my job to get them focused."
WVU will test its new focus against the best of women’s collegiate basketball Saturday. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Coliseum.