West Virginia to face Oklahoma in Big 12 1st round
Published: Thursday, March 7, 2013
Updated: Thursday, March 7, 2013 23:03
Despite its first season as a member of the Big 12 Conference, the West Virginia women’s basketball team has already carved out a reputation as a team with talented players capable of winning big games.
Four Mountaineers earned All-Big 12 honors on the eve of the team’s trip to Dallas for the Big 12 Conference tournament, led by leading scorer Christal Caldwell.
Caldwell, a redshirt junior, was named an All-conference selection, joining players such as Baylor’s Brittany Griner and Kansas State’s Brittany Chambers on the All-Big 12 First-Team.
Caldwell, who averages 12.9 points per game, was one of 10 players in the conference to receive the award.
Redshirt senior center Ayana Dunning, the team’s leading rebounder (6.1 rpg) was named All-Big 12 Honorable Mention. Dunning (10.2 ppg) is the only other Mountaineer to average double-digit scoring per game.
Junior forward Jess Harlee joined Griner and four other conference colleagues on the All-Defensive team; Harlee’s 1.8 steals per game are good for seventh best in the conference.
Freshman guard Bria Holmes was named to the All-Freshman team after a stellar inaugural campaign as the Mountaineers’ leading bench player. Despite averaging less than 13 minutes per game, Holmes contributes six points per game and has proven to be a solid asset for head coach Mike Carey and his squad.
WVU will join the rest of its conference foes in descending upon American Airlines Arena in Dallas, Texas, this weekend to compete for the Phillips 66 Big 12 Conference tournament championship.
Sixth-seeded West Virginia (17-12, 9-9) will begin its quest for its first-ever Big 12 Conference tournament title Saturday night when it faces off against third-seeded Oklahoma at 9:30 p.m. The game will be broadcast nationally on FOX Sports Net.
The Sooners (21-9, 11-7) split the season series with West Virginia as each team captured a win on their home court. In the most recent matchup, a Feb. 3 game at the Coliseum, West Virginia cruised to an 82-63 victory behind the offensive performances of Caldwell (24 points) and Holmes (17 points).
The teams’ first matchup, Jan. 2 in Norman, Okla., saw the Sooners scoot by with a 71-68 victory as five players scored 10 or more points for Oklahoma.
If West Virginia can get by Oklahoma, a potential matchup with No. 2 seed Iowa State (21-7, 12-6) awaits. Seventh-seeded Kansas will face-off against No. 10 seed TCU in the opening round of the tournament, with the winner progressing to play the Cyclones.
West Virginia is a combined 4-2 against those opponents as it dropped one game each to Iowa State and Kansas.
A win in West Virginia’s second game could set up a championship game matchup with top-ranked Baylor. The Bears (29-1, 18-0) were crowned regular season Big 12 Conference champions for the third straight season and have won 45 consecutive conference games.
Overall, the Big 12 Conference has proven to be one of the country’s elite this season. The Big 12 is No. 1 in conference RPI by multiple rating systems, and seven teams in the conference are ranked in the top 52 of the March 4 NCAA RPI.