The Times West Virginian

Bob Herzel

February 4, 2013

West Virginia women upend No. 21 Oklahoma

MORGANTOWN — All too often they are overlooked in sports, no matter which it may be, the players who fail to make it into the starting lineup and make up what is referred to as the bench.

It carries a derogatory connotation, as in a coach warning a player that if he doesn’t play better, “I will bench you.”

When you are on the bench you are a reserve, a backup ... or maybe you might just win a game or two or more for your team, as West Virginia University’s women’s bench players did Sunday as they turned around what had started out to be a disastrous afternoon and rallied the Mountaineers to an important 82-63 victory over No. 21/20 Oklahoma.

The victory before a crowd of 3,153 at the Coliseum on Play4Kay Day, a game played to benefit the fight against breast cancer, was WVU’s second consecutive one over a ranked team after having lost four in a row to ranked teams earlier in the season.

“Needless to say, this was a big win,” said WVU coach Mike Carey, whose team reached .500 in the Big 12 at 5-5 while stretching the season record to 13-8 as it fights to gain a spot in the NCAA Tournament.

It was a big win thanks to the bench, which came on to outscore the Sooner bench by a 40-5 margin.

Starter Christal Caldwell had a big day, leading in scoring with 24 points, but freshman Bria Homes came off the bench to add 17 points in just 13 minutes of play, while Jess Harlee brought boundless energy into the game when it was badly needed, scoring 12 points, pulling down nine rebounds and making three steals.

The bench performance was necessary in part because Taylor Palmer had just a terrible time of it. The leading scorer in the first game against Oklahoma with 30 points in what was a disappointing loss, Palmer had two fouls within the first 2:30 of the game, wound up playing just five minutes and took only one shot.

Perhaps it was just one of those days, perhaps her mind was elsewhere for this was Super Bowl Sunday and her sister, Janay, is engaged to Ray Rice, the Baltimore Ravens running back, and the mother of his child. She and the rest of the Palmer family were in New Orleans while Taylor was stuck trying to concentrate on this game.

“We knew (after she scored 30 points in the first meeting with Oklahoma) that they would stay out on her,” Carey said of having her stay on the bench in foul trouble. “I felt we needed taller people in there. They were pressing. They weren’t going to let her shoot.”

And while Taylor Palmer is one of the top scorers on the team, Carey has reached a point in this season where he isn’t worrying about hurt feelings.

“I’m not worrying about feelings,” he said. “We have got to win games.”

That meant pulling all the stops, especially when Oklahoma came out and did whatever it wanted to do in building a 22-11 lead.

That was when Carey changed his approach, put Holmes into the game along with Harlee.

Harlee, who has size, was assigned to guard Aaryn Ellenberg, who had scored six points in the first 2 1/2 minutes.

She would score only six more the rest of the game.

And from that point on WVU would go off on a 23-5 run to lead 34-27 at the half.

That run started with Holmes hitting a basket and then Caldwell scoring on a fast break from backup point guard Brooke Hampton, who came on to replace Linda Stepney and who added five assists and a 3-point basket during her 14 minutes of playing time.

Holmes took complete charge at that point, stealing and scoring on a fast break, then coming out of an Oklahoma timeout and scoring two more baskets to draw WVU within a point at 22-21.

Caldwell then saw to it that the Mountaineers would be in charge at the half as she scored four consecutive baskets, one of them a 3-point shot.

The second half was simply a matter of WVU pushing and pushing, building the lead until Oklahoma simply had to submit.

“We’re not playing not to lose anymore,” Carey said. “We are going to keep attacking, keep playing.”

Email Bob Hertzel at bhertzel@hotmail.com or follow him on Twitter @bhertzel.

1
Text Only
Bob Herzel
  • WVU #6 SHORTS -TS.jpg WVU opens practice with different feel: VIDEOS AND PHOTOS

    West Virginia University football coach Dana Holgorsen was happy with his team’s first practice of the 2014 season.
    Of course, he would note, “Everybody in the country has a good first day.”
    But somehow, this was different.
    Very different.

    August 1, 2014 9 Photos

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Social media adds another thing to watch for coaches

    As someone who has gotten himself in enough hot water with a misplaced Tweet, when West Virginia University quarterback Clint Trickett hit the send button on July 17 sending out to the cyberworld what should have remained there with him on the couch on which he was sitting, I could feel his pain.

    August 1, 2014

  • WVU basketball non-conference schedule released

    After playing challenging schedules along with the tough Big 12 road, West Virginia University has backed off some this season on its non-conference schedule that was released Thursday.
    West Virginia is coming off a 17-16 season in which it failed to reach the NCAA Tournament and lost to Georgetown in the first round of the NIT.

    August 1, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Must WVU defense carry offense in ’14?

    The other day the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ran a story under the following headline:
    “In a year of change, must the Steelers’ offense carry the defense this year?”
    Reading that turned on a light.

    July 31, 2014

  • WVU takes first step today

    Perhaps the most used — and least factual — cliché in sports is as follows:
    “There’s no tomorrow.”
    Around these parts, however, tomorrow is what they are clinging to, while putting a new twist on the cliché, turning it to, “There’s no yesterday.”

    July 31, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Big 12 provides plenty of optimism

    This past week the Big 12 held its annual media gathering in Dallas and served up a heaping portion of optimism for the 2014 season that is now upon us, West Virginia University opening its preseason practices on Thursday.
    This is a time of year when no one has lost a game, not even Charlie Weis at Kansas, and it’s a time of year when opinions are more plentiful than tattoos in an NFL locker room.

    July 27, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU needs White to follow in former receivers’ footsteps

    A year ago Clint Trickett took a lot of grief as the once potent West Virginia offense came unraveled, but there is more that than meets the eye.
    The criticism was not unfounded, of course, although behind each incomplete pass there was the pain Trickett was suffering through to throw it, his rotator cuff in need of surgery.

    July 26, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: O’Toole joins long list of eccentric WVU kickers, punters

    The star of the Big 12’s annual football media day wasn’t a star at all.
    He intrigued the media far more than Bob Stoops, the coach of preseason favorite Oklahoma, and more than Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty, the preseason player of the year.

    July 25, 2014

  • WVU, N.C. State to meet in football

    Following a trend of creating non-conference games against regional opponents, West Virginia University has reached agreement with North Carolina State to play a home-and-home football series in 2018 and 2019.
    The Mountaineers are scheduled to play N.C. State in Raleigh on Sept. 15, 2018, and then play host to the Wolfpack on Sept. 14, 2019.

    July 24, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: ‘Cheating pays’ remark should draw attention

    When Bob Bowlsby, the outspoken commissioner of the Big 12, presented his opening-day picture of the future of college sports in Dallas for the annual media day gathering, his bleak comments were not unexpected.

    July 24, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads