MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The West Virginia University women’s basketball team will open Big 12 Conference play for the first time in the history of the program at No. 17 Oklahoma on Jan. 2 at 8 p.m.
Like the Mountaineers (8-3), Oklahoma was tabbed No. 2 in the Big 12 Conference preseason poll. The Sooners return all five starters from a team that went 21-13 and 11-7 in the Big 12 last season, making it to the NCAA Second Round.
Oklahoma is 10-2 overall this season with losses to UCLA (86-80) on Nov. 14 and Vanderbilt (76-63) on Dec. 16. Since the loss to Vanderbilt, Oklahoma defeated UC Riverside 70-46 and Cal State Northridge 79-57 at home. The Sooners are 6-2 in the Lloyd Noble Center this season.
Averaging 75.6 points per game, Oklahoma holds the third-highest average in the Big 12, while limiting opponents to only 57.0 points per game, which matches what the Mountaineers allow as the fifth-lowest average in the league.
Oklahoma leads the league in 3-point shooting as it is 39.7 percent accurate from beyond the arc, while also leading in holding opponents to only 23.0 percent from 3-point range. Averaging 8.3 threes a game, OU ranks No. 8 nationally.
Four players average scoring numbers in double figures, behind Aaryn Ellenberg who averages 17.8 points per game, the third-highest average in the league. Ellenberg is also the team’s leader in 3-point shooting as she has collected 44-of-88 (50%) threes this season, leading the Big 12 in percentage and 3-pointers per game (3.7). Nicole Griffin is the second-leading scorer with 11.8 points per game and is the Sooners’ block leader with 11.
Whitney Hand rounded out the top three scorers with 11.1 points per game and 51.7 percent shooting from 3-point range (15-29) and also served as the Sooners’ second-leading rebounder before suffering a career-ending ACL tear on Dec. 6.
Joanna McFarland leads the Sooners in rebounding with 8.3 rebounds per game, which is the fourth-highest average in the Big 12. Morgan Hook is the fourth-leading scorer with 10.3 points per game and has collected 19 treys of her own. Hook leads the team in assists as she has gotten the ball in the right hands 48 times this season.
WVU junior Christal Caldwell
currently leads the Mountaineers in scoring with 11.6 points per game. Caldwell recorded a season-high 22 points in the last outing to lead WVU to a 72-67 win over Appalachian State. Senior Ayana Dunning
is not far behind Caldwell in scoring as she averages 11.4 points per game and serves as the Mountaineers’ leading rebounder with 7.5 boards per game. Taylor Palmer
rounds out the top three scorers with 9.8 points per game and has recorded the most 3-pointers for WVU this season with 20.
The teams are meeting for the second time in history as WVU leads the all-time series 1-0. The first meeting between WVU and Oklahoma was on Nov. 26, 1988 when WVU defeated Oklahoma 83-65 in Norman.
Fans can listen to the game live on WAJR with Travis Jones on the call. Live stats and a recap of the game can be found at WVUsports.com.