The Times West Virginian

Bob Herzel

January 4, 2014

Stepney brushes off Kansas as team eyes Big 12 title run

MORGANTOWN — As Linda Stepney sat on the West Virginia University bench through all but five minutes of the first half of Thursday night’s Big 12 opening game in historic Allen Fieldhouse on the Kansas campus in Lawrence, the point guard felt as though she was letting down her coaches and teammates who had worked so hard to create a team that was supposed to contend for a conference title.

While on the floor, WVU had built a 10-point lead at 13-3, but she had somehow managed to collect a pair of fouls that forced Mike Carey to sit her down.

And as she sat, Kansas had chipped away at the lead, walking off the court at halftime leading, 28-27.

“The first half I got in foul trouble, and I felt like I didn’t do enough to help my team,” she said after coming off the bench to join center Asya Bussie in leading WVU to a 75-65 victory, the Mountaineers 12th in a row.

“I felt in the second half I’d come out and take more shots because my man was sagging on Asya, as usual. I just took it upon myself to get to the basket.”

Stepney’s aggressive play, both on the offensive side of the ball and as the front person in the 1-2-2 zone Carey went to, completely changed the complexion of the game as WVU ran off 16 consecutive points, holding KU without a basket for seven-and-a-half minutes to take control of the game.

“Linda started attacking changed things,” Carey explained. “Us changing up to 1-2-2 got them off balance and kept them out of the paint.”

Stepney’s numbers were not eye popping, seven points, four rebounds and three assists, but what she added was a jolt of energy, and it was that energy that altered the ebb and flow of the game. Coming on the road, it allowed WVU to get to feeling right at home, for that is how they like to play.

It was Stepney who got the 16-0 run started.

Kansas had just made a traditional 3-point play to widen its lead to 46-41 with things going in the wrong direction for the Mountaineers until Stepney penetrated and was fouled, making two free throws.

The defense, which had harassed KU into two five-second calls during the evening, now came up with a steal by Taylor Palmer, which led to some bad inside shooting but Bussie grabbed off consecutive offensive rebounds, Stepney eventually getting a drive to the hoop on the possession and basket to draw WVU to within a point.

The offensive rebound had been key all night, but now WVU completely was dominating the boards, finishing with a 47-28 overall edge on the boards, 23 coming at the offensive end.

For the night, WVU held a 20-2 edge in second-chance points.

At the 9:04 mark, Christal Caldwell hit a jumper to put WVU in front for good, 47-46, and then the Mountaineers turned up the steam and Kansas was clearly rattled.

Bussie blocked another shot; Stepney made a steal; Dakota Gonzalez threw the ball away, one of 19 KU turnovers; and Stepney grabbed off an offensive rebound and scored with a foul.

The game was over, and it came about because of Stepney’s ability to take the ball at the basket.

“If the middle is open, I have to penetrate and get my shooters wide open if they sag on me. If the lane is open for me, I have to take my shots,” she said.

Bussie’s contribution can’t be overlooked, either, as she recorded a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds to go with three timely blocks.

West Virginia didn’t have long to enjoy the first victory, traveling to Stillwater, Okla., on Friday to begin preparations for Saturday’s 7 p.m. game against No. 11/13 Oklahoma State, a key game in a season that is just under way for a team with national intentions.

“Now we go play a Top 15 team on its home court. It’s a tough game,” Carey said. “They are very physical, big and athletic and have a great point guard.”

Oklahoma State is 12-0 for the season, nine of the victories coming at home. The Cowboys are second in scoring in the Big 12 at 83.2 points a game and lead the conference in defense, allowing three less points a game than any other team at 51.6.

Tiffany Bias is the point guard, and she leads the conference in assists, averaging 7.7 per game, while Bussie figures to have a down-low battle with OSU’s Liz Donohoe, who is seventh in the Big 12 in scoring at 16.7 a game, ninth in rebounding at 7.7 a game and leads the conference in free-throw shooting at 89.5 percent.

Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel.

1
Text Only
Bob Herzel
  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Under pressure, NCAA decides to change rules

    At first glance, it appears that they do not go hand-in-hand, a pair of rules changes the NCAA’s Legislative Council approved this week, sending them off for what seems to be smooth sailing toward becoming rules.

    April 18, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU gymnast hopes to stick her final landing

    The reaction, one suspects, was the same as most people who see either a picture of West Virginia University gymnast Hope Sloanhoffer or meet her for the first time in person — a quick double take, maybe even stumbling over the first few words of an introduction.

    April 17, 2014

  • Bussie looks forward to WNBA

    On Tuesday, the weather turned cold, the wind blew and amongst the raindrops that fell a few snowflakes fluttered quietly to Earth.
    It was as if it was a celebration of Asya Bussie being drafted on Monday night by the Minnesota Lynx, champions of the WNBA, with the third selection of the second round, the 15th overall pick of the draft.

    April 16, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Jackie Robinson’s impact extends beyond baseball

    It is Jackie Robinson Day as I sit here writing this today, and I feel as though I am doing it in a world gone mad.
    Every player in Major League Baseball wore No. 42 on Tuesday in honor of Jackie Robinson, the man who took racism’s best shot and integrated the game that was known then as the National Pastime even though it was as white a Ku Klux Klan robe.

    April 16, 2014

  • Gyorko, Padres agree to extension

    Jedd Gyorko, who hasn’t hit much of anything with a .178 start on this season, hit the jackpot on Monday, signing a six-year contract extension with the San Diego Padres for $35 million with a one-year club option at $13 million.

    April 15, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN- Spring game showed defense has improved

    From Dana Holgorsen’s viewpoint, which was standing right behind the offense, West Virginia’s Gold-Blue Spring Game on Saturday was a rousing success for it showed very little of what the Mountaineers will be in this coming season, probably not even showcasing the man who will direct the offense in the quarterback position.

    April 15, 2014

  • WVU signs guard; Adrian arrested for DUI

    There was something good and something bad for West Virginia men’s basketball coach Bob Huggins this past weekend as Kansas junior college player Tarik Phillip committed to play for the Mountaineers but rising sophomore Nathan Adrian was charged with Under 21 DUI after he was stopped at 1:20 a.m. Sunday for an expired registration sticker.

    April 15, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN- Garrison still proving he can carry the ball

    The running back raves from the West Virginia coaching this spring have been directly mostly toward Wendell Smallwood, and rest assured he earned every one of them with his versatility, but it was a reborn running back who well may have taken the biggest jump up the depth chart.

    April 14, 2014

  • WVU baseball drops seventh straight game

    One’s athletic skills are tested on a daily basis but every so often other aspects of an athlete’s makeup are tested, often far more important aspects in the game of life.

    April 14, 2014

  • Gold-Blue Game answers few questions at quarterback

    Dana Holgorsen finds himself in a quarterback quandary.
    He’s looking to have one quarterback and has five of them as spring practice ends, and nothing about the spring session has done anything to straighten out the situation.

    April 13, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads