MORGANTOWN, W.Va.– The No. 25/23 West Virginia women’s basketball team is set for a 2 p.m. tip on Sunday, Dec. 2 at Virginia.
“Virginia is one of the toughest teams we’ll play all year and on their home court,” coach Mike Carey says. “We have to get thrown into the fire early and we have to learn from it. They press a little bit more and against Minnesota they played a full-court press. We have to continue to get better.”
The Cavaliers are 5-1 overall, including a 2-0 mark at home and are receiving votes in both major polls. Virginia is coming off a 90-68 win at Minnesota on Thursday night. The Cavaliers have defeated James Madison (78-57) and Providence (61-42) at home this season.
Virginia has three players that average double-figure scoring numbers behind sophomore forward Sarah Imovbioh with 13.7 points per game and a 66.7 field goal percentage (28-42)--the seventh-highest nationally. Standing at 6-foot-2, Imovbioh also leads the team in rebounding as she has pulled down 7.5 boards per game, including a team-leading 17 offensive rebounds.
Junior guard Kelsey Wolfe is the second-leading scorer with 13.2 points per game and also one of the best free throw shooters for Virginia as she has converted 92.6 percent (25-27) from the line. Wolfe is the third-leading rebounder with 5.2 boards per game.
Junior guard Ataira Franklin rounds out the top three scorers for Virginia as she averages 12.2 points per game and matches Wolfe from 3-point range as each have sunk a team-leading six 3-pointers this season, however Franklin holds the highest 3-point field goal percentage as she shoots 50 percent (6-12) from 3-point range. Franklin hails from Bowie, Md., and attended Riverdale Baptist High, the same high school as Mountaineer freshman Jennie Simms
Another part of UVA’s starting five is senior guard China Crosby, who matches Franklin with a team-leading 22 assists. Crosby averages 6.8 points per game and has recorded 15 steals, behind team leader Wolfe who has 19 steals. Rounding out the starting lineup is 6-foot-1 forward Telia McCall, who is also the team’s second-leading rebounder with 6.5 rebounds per game. McCall adds 6.5 points per game, 14 steals and a team-leading four blocked shots.
In the last outing with Minnesota, Virginia recorded higher percentages in all shooting categories, making 58.9 percent (33-56) from the field, 57.1 percent (8-14) from 3-point range and 69.6 percent (16-23) from the free throw line. Wolfe had a game-leading 25 points and six rebounds, while Franklin added 13 points, four boards and eight assists. Junior forward Jazmin Pitts came off the bench to record 12 points on 6-of-9 shooting. The Cavaliers trailed 23-20, but used an 11-0 run to get back in control and seal the win.
The Mountaineers (3-2) are looking to put a stop to a two-game losing skid after dropping games to LSU and Iowa at the FIU Thanksgiving Classic last week. Junior guard Taylor Palmer
emerged as the scoring leader for the Mountaineers in each game at the FIU Thanksgiving Classic as she averaged 19.0 points per game, and was named to the FIU Thanksgiving Classic All-Tournament Team for her efforts.
Palmer is now WVU’s season-leading scorer as she averages 11.0 points per game, followed by senior Ayana Dunning
with 10.0 points per game and junior guard Christal Caldwell
with 8.6 points per game.
WVU trails 5-1 in the all-time series with Virginia. The Mountaineers defeated Virginia 57-43 in the last outing on Nov. 26, 2010 at the Paradise Jam in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Current Mountaineers Jess Harlee
, Ayana Dunning
, Taylor Palmer
and Brooke Hampton
saw playing time in that game. Prior to the last outing, the Cavaliers won five consecutive games, including a one-point victory (59-58) in Charlottesville, the last time the teams met in Virginia.
For those unable to attend, a recap of the game, live video and live stats also are available online at www.WVUsports.com. Fans can tune into WAJR to hear the game live with Travis Jones on the call.