The Times West Virginian

Sports

January 26, 2013

WVU women desperate for victory

MORGANTOWN — All of a sudden West Virginia University’s women’s basketball team is facing a crucial point in its season.

Coach Mike Carey’s women’s team plays host at 7 p.m. tonight to an Iowa State team in its own desperate situation.

Both teams come into the contest sporting two-game losing streaks.

The Cyclones (13-4, 4-3 Big 12) have dropped a pair of games to Oklahoma State and Baylor. In conference play this season, Iowa State has defeated Texas, in overtime, Texas Tech, TCU and Oklahoma, while falling to Baylor, twice, and Oklahoma State.

West Virginia is 11-6 overall and 3-4 in conference play and also looking to put a stop to its two-game skid after falling at No. 1 Baylor, 76-58, and dropping a 77-73 overtime decision to Texas Tech in the last outing.

The Mountaineers have had four Big 12 games this season decided by five or fewer points. WVU saw a pair of new scoring leaders emerge in its last game as true freshman Bria Holmes and sophomore Averee Fields co-led with 17 points each.

Up until the last game, three Mountaineers continued to trade off leading the team in scoring with junior guards Christal Caldwell and Taylor Palmer and senior Ayana Dunning taking on the role in conference play.

Caldwell leads the Mountaineers this season with 13.1 points per game and 15.3 points in Big 12 games. Palmer is the second-leading scorer with 11.8 points per game for the season and 15.0 points per league game, while Dunning contributes 9.9 points per game in all games and 8.4 points per game in the league.

Dunning remains the season-leading rebounder with 6.3 rebounds per game, while sophomore Crystal Leary provides a spark off the bench when it comes to rebounding with 5.7 rebounds per game. Leary has pulled down a career-best 11 rebounds in three games this season, two instances of which were in the last two games.

The Cyclones have three players scoring in double figures, led by junior forward Hallie Christofferson with 14.1 points per game. Christofferson is shooting 55.4 percent (31-56) in Big 12 play, the third-highest field goal percentage in the league. Seniors Chelsea Poppens and Anna Prins follow Christofferson in scoring with 11.7 and 10.5 points per game, respectively.

Poppens is also the Cyclones’ leading rebounder with 9.0 rebounds per game, the fourth-highest rebounding average in all Big 12 games this season. Christofferson is the second-leading rebounder with 6.8 boards per game. Nikki Moody has collected 121 assists for the season, and is leading the nation with an average of 7.6 assists.

Poppens shoots 84.6 percent (22-26) from the free-throw line in conference games, helping ISU to the third-highest percentage (75.7 percent) from the line as a team in the Big 12.

Sophomore guard Brynn Williamson rounds out the top four scorers with 8.9 points per game and has collected the most 3-pointers for Iowa State, shooting 38.9 percent (35-90) in all games this season and recording 14-of-38 (63.8 percent) from 3-point range in league play. Christofferson and Nicole Blaskowsky have also contributed from 3-point range, combining for 58 threes this season and 21 threes in Big 12 play.

 In the last outing against Baylor, ISU fell, 66-51, with Prins recording 17 points and Williamson chipping in 11. Turnovers against the Bears were costly, as Iowa State had 18 giveaways to Baylor’s eight. The Cyclones were successful in matching Baylor in rebounding with 35 apiece, led by Williamson and Poppens with nine each.

WVU holds a 1-0 advantage in the all-time series with Iowa State. The Mountaineers defeated Iowa State 64-53 in the last outing on Nov. 27, 2010, en route to becoming the 2010 Paradise Jam Island Division Champions in the U.S. Virgin Islands. At the time, WVU was ranked No. 10, while the Cyclones were No. 19, and current Mountaineers Brooke Hampton, Jess Harlee, Dunning and Palmer all saw playing time against the Cyclones in the last outing, combining for 24 of WVU’s 64 total points.

Tickets are on sale through the Mountaineer Ticket Office at WVUGAME.com and 1-800-WVU GAME. The women’s basketball flex plan package is also on sale for just $20. The flex plan package includes 10 tickets to redeem at the game of your choice.

Saturday’s game is a United Bank Dollar Night. Fans can print out a coupon on the official WVU women’s basketball Facebook page that can be redeemed for $1 admission. The game will be broadcast live on Root Sports Pittsburgh.

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