MORGANTOWN, W. Va. – At some point in every sport season, a team will lose a game that they were supposed to win. It’s how the team decides to respond to that loss that can end up making or breaking a season.
This is the situation the West Virginia women’s basketball team currently finds itself in after suffering an unexpected 61-55 loss to Duquesne on Saturday afternoon in Pittsburgh.
It’s not the small mistakes that make the loss disappointing to head coach Mike Carey. It’s the way the team fell apart after holding a 17-point advantage, and the way nobody seemed to want to step up as a leader when the team needed that leadership the most.
“It’s one thing to miss shots and make some bad passes or have a breakdown on defense once in awhile and it’s another thing to not be aggressive,” he explained. “I’m still amazed at what we did with a 17-point lead. I’m disappointed. Nobody stepped up and that’s what amazes me more than anything.
“Duquesne got super aggressive and we got super passive and nobody stepped up to get them in the huddle. Coaches are not on the floor. They’ve got to get into a huddle and somebody’s got to step up and nobody did that.”
The Mountaineers (7-3) have a chance to rebound from the loss on Tuesday night when they play host to Mount St. Mary’s in a 7 p.m. tip.
The Mount (5-4) come into the Coliseum with a three-game win streak after defeating Long Island, St. Francis and Loyola (Md.) at home. They only have one road win this season, however, against Maryland-Eastern Shore.
Junior guard Sydney Henderson leads Mount St. Mary’s in scoring,
averaging 10.7 points per game in addition to having made 17 3-pointers so far this season.
“They shoot about 19 or 20 threes during the game so that puts our people out on the perimeter a lot,” said Carey. “So we’re going to have to chase out on the perimeter and get in the passing lanes and make things happen. A lot of threes means a lot of rebounds so if our guards aren’t blocking out and chasing down the long rebounds that could give them a lot of second opportunities.”
Henderson is followed by Jessie Kaufman and Ashley Christie who round out the top three scorers with 7.4 and 7.1 points per game, respectively.
Selina Mann leads the team’s rebounding efforts, as she averages 4.8 rebounds per game.
The Mountaineers hold a 2-0 record against Mount St. Mary’s under Carey’s leadership, and have won the last three outings overall. But the team knows that those statistics don’t guarantee anything.
Projected starters for the Mountaineers include sophomores Christal Caldwell, Taylor Palmer and Jess Harlee, junior Asya Bussie and true freshman Linda Stepney.
Palmer continues to lead West Virginia’s scoring efforts with 16.0 points per game. She’s followed by Bussie, who averages 13.1 points per game, and by junior Ayana Dunning who averages 7.1 points per game.
Once again, it will be the offense that needs to have a strong performance as the team’s defensive efforts continue to rank among the best in the nation.
In the latest NCAA national statistics, West Virginia’s scoring defense (48.3) ranks the third-best while its field-goal percentage defense (30.2) is the sixth-lowest nationally.
The Mountaineers have also held eight out of 10 opponents this season to under 61 points.
Defensively, Dunning leads the team in rebounding with 8.3 rebounds per game. She’s followed by Bussie, who has 6.8 rebounds per game, and Harlee, who has 6.6 rebounds per game.
Harlee also leads the team in steals, with 23 on the season so far.
“The three games we’ve lost this season, I thought we were better than all three teams,” concluded Carey. “It has nothing to do with being a freshman, sophomore, junior or senior. It has a little bit to do with heart and a desire to win a basketball game and that’s something we have to get back again.”
Live stats and video of Tuesday night’s game will be provided by MSNsportsNET.com.