The Times West Virginian

Sports

January 29, 2014

WVU hosts Iowa State in top 25 showdown

MORGANTOWN — West Virginia’s women’s basketball team has reached a critical portion of its season as No. 23 Iowa State comes to the Coliseum tonight to face the Mountaineers at 7 p.m.

WVU comes into the game after splitting two games on the road last week but maintaining its Top 25 ranking in both major polls.

In the Associated Press Poll, West Virginia dropped from No. 18 last week to No. 20 this week, and went from No. 21 to No. 24 in the USA Today Coaches Poll.

The Mountaineers are currently 17-3 overall and 6-2 in Big 12 play. WVU defeated Texas Tech 70-51 in Lubbock, while falling at Texas, 66-63, last week. WVU’s loss at Texas was its first road loss of the season and snapped a four-game win streak.

“Texas played harder than we did the first half. We stood around and it cost us down the stretch. We had opportunities and took some bad shots,” coach Mike Carey said. “Give them a lot of credit. They played hard.”

Holmes led all players with 18 points and three steals, while junior forward Averee Fields had 12 points, eight rebounds, six assists and four steals.

It’s up to Carey to find a way to get his two seniors, Christal Caldwell and Asya Bussie, back on track.

They were limited in their first half playing time against Texas by foul trouble, Caldwell playing just six minutes and Bussie 11, combining for just four first-half points. Bussie finished the game with nine points and Caldwell eight.

Iowa State figures to provide a strong challenge on the Mountaineers’ home floor. The Cyclones bring a 15-4 record into the game with a 4-4 mark in Big 12 play, owning victories over TCU, Oklahoma in overtime and Texas Tech twice, the most recent in overtime.

Iowa State lost all four of its league games in succession before ending the slump last time out with that overtime triumph over Texas Tech on Jan. 25.

The Cyclones offer a challenge to defend with four players scoring in double figures led by Hallie Christofferson at 19.7 points per game. In league play she averages 16.9 points an outing.

Christofferson also leads in rebounding in league play with 8.0 per game but Seanna Johnson leads in all games with 8.1 rebounds per contest.

Nikki Moody averages 13.1 points, Jadda Buckley averages 11.0 and Johnson adds 10.1 points per game.

As a team, Iowa State leads the league, averaging 9.2 3-pointers per game and 8.0 threes per Big 12 outing, with at least six players having at least 10 threes this season. Nicole Blaskowsky leads Iowa State with 42 threes made this season, while Brynn Williamson adds 39. Buckley is the most accurate 3-point shooter for ISU, making 50 percent (27-54), and also the most accurate free throw shooter in the Big 12, making 90.1 percent (64-71).

Iowa State shoots 81.9 percent (149-182) from the free throw line in Big 12 play as the league’s highest percentage. In Big 12 only games, Buckley leads the league from the free throw line (93.1%), while Christofferson and Williamson make up the second- and third-highest free throw percentages with 93 percent (40-43) and 92 percent (23-25), respectively.

Holmes has taken over the scoring lead for WVU at 13.8 points a game, leading four players into double figures. She is followed by Asya Bussie at 13.2, Christal Caldwell at 12.0 and Taylor Palmer at 11.1.

WVU leads 3-1 in the all-time series, dating back to November 27, 2010. Earlier this season, on Jan. 15, WVU defeated then-No. 13/11 Iowa State, 73-59, at Hilton Coliseum in Ames. Last season, WVU and ISU split the series at 1-1, each taking a win on the road.

Fans can listen to the game live with Mountaineer Sports Network from IMG online at WVUsports.com, with Jeff Culhane and Meg Bulger on the call. A free live videostream can also be found online at WVUsports.com.

Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel

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