A Big One for the WVU Women
The great thing about the Internet is that it can sometimes help you be in two places at one time.
While some of us traveled through our latest snowstorm to get to the Caperton Indoor Practice Facility to catch some of West Virginia’s first spring football practice of 2014 (can you believe it?), the Mountaineer women were setting a trap for fifth-ranked Baylor in Waco.
The news on twitter kept getting better: West Virginia trailing by three, West Virginia tied, West Virginia leading by one, by three, so on and so forth. Then it looked like Baylor was going to pull out the victory at the end of the game before Averee Fields made the play of the game with her steal and driving layup to put West Virginia back out in front.
My iPhone app flashed the ESPN alert that the Mountaineers had won the game, 70-69, but that proved to be premature, which rarely ever happens in Bristol, right?
Well, West Virginia eventually did win the game, 71-69, after Fields made her free throw and Baylor’s three-quarter-court heave landed harmlessly to the ground.
It was a big triumph for Mike Carey’s Mountaineer women. How big? Considering the circumstances - a Top 10 ranking, a high seed in the NCAA tournament, Baylor’s long conference home winning streak and the possibility of sharing a Big 12 regular season title, I would say it’s the biggest win in school history.
Carey, author of several significant victories during his 13 seasons at WVU, agreed when asked during his postgame radio show if Sunday’s win was bigger than the one his team got at No. 2-ranked Notre Dame back in 2012.
“I think this is bigger because we at least have a chance to tie for the Big 12 championship,” he said. “Out there, we were far behind Connecticut at that time so I would say this is the bigger win.”
The Baylor victory snapped the Bears’ 35-game home court winning streak against conference opponents and gives West Virginia an opportunity to earn a share of the Big 12 title in just its second season in the conference, provided the Mountaineers can take care of business on Tuesday night at the Coliseum against Kansas.
“This game doesn’t mean anything if we don’t win that one,” noted Carey.
Baylor’s only other loss in conference play this year? That’s right, Kansas back on Jan. 19 in Lawrence. That’s something to keep in mind if you’re planning to sit this one out and stay at home on Tuesday night.
If West Virginia is successful against the Jayhawks, it will represent the first conference regular season title for the WVU women since 1992 when West Virginia won the Atlantic 10 outright.
WVU’s only other claim to a conference crown came in 1989 when WVU upset its way to an Atlantic 10 tournament championship.
After Sunday’s win at Baylor, which now becomes No. 1 on my list of the biggest WVU women’s basketball victories, here are some other noteworthy wins in school history …
West Virginia 65, No. 2 Notre Dame 63, February 12, 2012
It remains the highest-ranked team WVU has defeated in school history and it came in South Bend where the Irish women rarely lose. Asya Bussie scored 22 points and grabbed eight rebounds, but it was Brooke Hampton’s free throws at the end of the game that won it for the Mountaineers.
West Virginia 79, No. 5 Louisville 70, February 7, 2009
Mike Carey’s defense held Louisville All-American Angel McCoughtry to just 10-of-26 shooting, and the Mountaineers got 27 points from Virginia transfer Takisha Granberry and 22 from point guard Sarah Miles to help West Virginia achieve its first-ever upset of a top 5-ranked team on the road.
West Virginia 56, No. 6 Rutgers 40, March 6, 2006
An undermanned WVU team ruined the Big East’s hope of having a UConn-Rutgers rematch in championship game when the Mountaineers upset the sixth-ranked Scarlet Knights in the tournament semifinals. Rutgers made just 15 of 53 from the floor and turned the ball over 23 times for the game. The sub-.500 Mountaineers almost pulled off an even bigger upset the following night when they took seventh-ranked Connecticut right down to the wire on the Huskies’ home floor.
West Virginia 73, No. 20 Clemson 72, March 22, 1992
This was a big win for West Virginia because the Mountaineers were coming off an embarrassing upset defeat to the worst team in the Atlantic 10 (Duquesne) in the opening round of the conference tournament and West Virginia was also playing in front of the biggest home crowd in school history at the time. Jodie Runner’s short jumper ahead of the buzzer won the game for West Virginia, and helped the Mountaineers advance to their first and only Sweet 16 appearance in school history.
West Virginia 89, No. 17 Rutgers 78, February 28, 1991
Beating Rutgers and its Hall of Fame coach Theresa Grentz was a major psychological hurdle for West Virginia to overcome. The Mountaineers had never defeated Rutgers up to that point and many of the losses to the Scarlet Knights were by substantial margins. Junior guard Rosemary Kosiorek was phenomenal, scoring 30 points while handing out seven assists and making five steals for the game.
West Virginia 81, No. 14 Penn State 79, January 18, 1982
Beating Penn State in anything is a big deal, and for the WVU women it was major accomplishment back in 1982 because the Mountaineers were always playing in the shadow of the nationally-ranked Nittany Lions. WVU Hall of Famer Cathy Parson came up big for the Mountaineers by scoring 33 points, and the late Olivia Bradley, another WVU Hall of Famer, took care of the glass as she always did with 10 boards.
West Virginia 66, No 19 Western Kentucky 57, March 15, 1989
This was an important victory for the WVU program because it represented the first NCAA tournament triumph in school history and it came on the road against a nationally ranked team – also a school first. Guard Jenny Hillen was the star of the game with her 24 points in the overtime victory.
West Virginia 69, No. 21 Virginia Tech 66, February 10, 2004
West Virginia had lost 50 straight games to nationally ranked teams over a 12-year period at a time when the Mountaineers were simply struggling to produce winning seasons. Mike Carey’s team ended the drought against ranked teams with a three-point upset of 21st-ranked Virginia Tech at the Coliseum behind 23 points from guard Kate Bulger. WVU overcame an eight-point halftime deficit in the victory.
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