West Virginia travels to Syracuse looking for its first three-game winning streak of season
Published: Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, December 7, 2011 00:12
The West Virginia women's basketball team looks for its first three-game winning streak of the season when it travels to upstate New York, to take on Syracuse tonight.
The Mountaineers (5-2) are coming off of a 78-53 win against Boston University, showing good balance with four players scoring in double figures.
West Virginia head coach Mike Carey was pleased with the play he saw against Boston, but feels the team still has a lot to work on as the games get more difficult – starting with an unusual December Big East game against the Orange tonight.
"I prefer not to (play a league game this early in the season), but they did the same thing last year," Carey said of West Virginia's schedule.
Junior center Asya Bussie was more involved in the Mountaineers' last game against Boston, leading with 17 points and 10 rebounds.
Carey is continuing to try to run the offense through players like Bussie and redshirt junior Ayana Dunning on the inside.
"We have to get her going," Carey said of Bussie.
Bussie is averaging 11.7 points and 7.3 rebounds a game.
Syracuse (6-2) returns all five starters from last season. The Orange is on a small skid, having lost two games in a row after winning their first six of the season.
They have four players averaging more than 10 points per game and seven players averaging at least 18 minutes per game. Junior center Kayla Alexander leads the Orange with 20 points per game and 8.9 rebounds.
The 6-foot-4 center was named to the Big East conference first team in 2010 and is having another all-conference type season so far this year.
The Mountaineer front court will have to make sure they communicate well on defense in order to slow down the Orange big center.
Carey has lost five times to Syracuse in his 11-year career, and West Virginia has a 12-9 advantage in the overall series. But, WVU has lost its last two meetings in the Carrier Dome against the Orange, both by more than 20 points.
"We're going to Syracuse, our past history doesn't show that we play too well in Syracuse," Carey said. "They lost to Arizona their first game they lost. They're very good. They've got everybody back from last year – big, strong, athletic. They play the 2-3 zone. We'll probably see some box-and-one on (freshman point guard) Taylor Palmer. We're going to have to go there and be ready to play. It's going to be a tough place."
If West Virginia can force Syracuse to shoot from the perimeter, it may have an advantage. The Orange have only shot 25 percent as a team from three-point range this year.
Both teams have been somewhat careless handling the ball thus far. West Virginia has averaged 16.4 turnovers a game, while Syracuse is at just less than 18.
"We're going to keep trying things," Carey said. "That's my job, to keep trying things and see what's going to help us try to win basketball games."