By Bob Hertzel
For the Times West Virginian
There has been much talk about the rules in basketball leading into this season and how the hand-checking rules were going to be enforced, but apparently the West Virginia University women’s team misunderstood the changes and thought it had become illegal to make a shot in the second half.
The Mountaineers lost their opener to Ohio State, 70-61, and did so by playing as bad a second half of basketball as is humanly possible.
The Mountaineers shot 19.4 percent from the field.
REPEAT: 19.4 percent.
And, in a way, that was the best thing they did. They went 0-for-7 from 3-point range en route to hitting 2 of 20 for the game for 10 percent.
Then there was a matter of free throws. WVU shot 52.9 percent of those in the second half but, when trying to come back in the game through the final quarter of the game, they went cold.
Somehow, on one trip down the floor, they went 0-for-4 from the free throw line, missing two, grabbing an offensive rebound, then being fouled and missing two more.
It was so bad that at a point later, Asya Bussie, making her return from missing last year with knee surgery, had two shots, missing the first by just barely missing reaching the backboard, then when a lane violation was called on that, came up so short with the next shot it barely hit the front of the rim.
Bussie returned with 14 points on 4-of-12 shooting with 9 rebounds … but she also had a game-leading six turnovers.
“Ohio State was ready. They executed better than we did,” said WVU coach Mike Carey. “They handled the ball better and they shot foul shots better than we did. You can’t go 2-for-20, miss 11 foul shots and turn the ball over 16 times against the zone. You’re not going to win.”
The strange part of it all was that the first half was a well-played, hotly contested battle that the Buckeyes led, 41-40.
But the second half was a basketball eyesore, WVU managing only to dominate on the boards to keep from being completed buried. When the rebounding statistics came out they showed WVU with 53 to 36 for OSU and dominating the offensive boards by a rather ridiculous 22-3 margin.
Ohio State’s Amyerst Alston led all scorers with 29 points and also contributed a game-high six assists.
“It’s ridiculous,” said an obviously irritated Carey. “I’m not saying anything about her; that’s great for her. We turned sideways and let her go straight in the block. She powered up over top of us. We tried different things. We tried to put bigger guards on her to trap her.
“We weren’t consistent and we didn’t stay focused. I’ll give her credit. She had a great game.”
WVU was led in scoring by Christal Caldwell with 17 points, while Bria Holmes also reached double figures with 12.
But the second half was simply a disastrous performance.
And the punishment for this performance?
A trip to Hawaii to play in the Bank of Hawaii Rainbow Wahine Classic.
Maybe they’ll be able to shoot there.
Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel.