MORGANTOWN, W. Va. – No. 19 West Virginia will take to the Coliseum court on Monday evening, playing host to St. John’s in a 7 p.m. tip.
The contest marks senior night for the Mountaineers (21-8, 7-8 BE), who graduate five seniors from the program. Madina Ali, Korinne Campbell, Vanessa House, Sarah Miles and Liz Repella have led one of the program’s most successful teams, collecting 50 wins over the past two seasons.
“This is one of the best classes in the history of the program at West Virginia University,” coach Carey said. “I have nothing but positive things to say about them. They’re leaders on and off the floor and they’re a great group. They work hard and they do everything we ask of them. In all my years of coaching, this is the best group I’ve ever had, on the men’s and women’s side.”
“I’m sure I’ll be emotional but at the same time we have to look at the big picture,” said Ali. “What we’ve done and we know that there’s a chance for us to keep going. I’m nervous and excited. It’s been a good experience and I’ve matured and learned a lot about myself. This place is like home.”
The team’s 67-58 loss at Rutgers on Saturday afternoon solidified their slot in the first round of the Big East Tournament, which opens play on Friday afternoon.
“We need to play,” said Carey. “We need to get a couple of wins. They’re not guaranteed but at least we can go in there with the opportunity to get some wins and that’s what we need right now to get our confidence back.”
A win over St. John’s at home could provide just that.
The Red Storm (20-8, 9-6 BE) enter Monday’s game coming off of a win over Pitt at home on Saturday, 72-63, its second consecutive win after previously defeating Villanova, 57-46, on Feb. 22.
Sophomore guard Shenneika Smith paces the Red Storm in scoring, posting an average of 13.3 points per game. She’s followed by junior forward Da’Shena Stevens, who also averages in the double figures with 12.4 points per game. Stevens led the team in its win over Pitt with 15 points.
She also leads the team in rebounding, with 6.5 rebounds per game.
In addition, sophomore guard Amanda Burakoski currently leads the Big East Conference in accuracy from beyond the arc, as she shoots 44.4 percent (40-of-90) from 3-point range.
“We’re going to watch film on St. John’s and go through our sets and try to have some legs for the game,” Carey said. “It’s a big game in general and it’s a big game for our seniors.”
Repella and Ali continue to lead in scoring for the Mountaineers, each averaging over 13 points per game. Miles comes in third in scoring, and leads the team in assists (89). Campbell enters the game after a double figure scoring effort at Rutgers, posting a season-high 14 points. House provides leadership and offense off the bench, as she’s hit 19 3-point shots this season.
West Virginia leads the all-time series with St. John’s, 17-4. The Mountaineers have won ten of the last 11 outings, including the last five straight.
The game has been designated Fan Appreciation night as fans can pick up any remaining promotional items that were given out this season including extra foam fingers, pom-poms, ream photos, West Virginia silly bandz, Carey mustaches and glow sticks. At the concession stands, popcorn, 16 oz. drinks and Hershey bars will be available for just $1 each.
The contest will be televised nationally on ESPN2, with Pam Ward and Carolyn Peck providing commentary and analysis. Additionally, MSN radio will broadcast the game live with Travis Jones and Jay Jacobs on the call.