MORGANTOWN — There were moments in his post-game delivery that coach Mike Carey talked about the imperfections in his West Virginia University women’s basketball team’s performance, but in the end, the main topic of the evening was perfection.
With a 69-56 victory over Marquette before 4,485 fans, the No. 7/8 Mountaineers completed just the second undefeated home season in school history.
OK, they lost three road games, each to a ranked team — Ohio State, Notre Dame and No. 1 Connecticut.
And, as Carey would note, they haven’t been as consistent as he would like them to be, as if they ever could be, but make no doubt, this is a special team having a special season in a special way.
They were unknown coming into the season but they are well known now, a force in the women’s game, a team that will have a double-bye in the Big East Tournament and a team that is looking beyond even that now.
The Mountaineers will be NCAA bound and they believe …
Well, let’s just leave it at that. They believe.
They know it will be tough, that they haven’t yet this year reached the peak that they’ll need then.
“Everyone is going to bring their A game in the NCAA. We have to bring our A+ game,” point guard Sarah Miles said.
Beating Marquette was one thing. Seventeen and oh is one thing too. But there is so much more ahead.
“Are we doing this to beat Marquette,” Carey asked his team after the game, “or there is something more. If we advance to the NCAA we have to beat really good teams.”
They are getting closer and closer to that perfection Carey seeks.
Defensively, they border on awesome. They are in your face, hard-nosed.”
“Their defense is unbelievably good,” Marquette Coach Terri Mitchell said. “We used to talk about the days of Rutgers defense, how hard it was to rip through them, how they were in your face and made you start far back. Well, that’s how it is West Virginia.”
The defense kept Marquette to 32.2 percent shooting.
Then they have an elite point guard in Sarah Miles, who is lightning quick and sees the entire floor, as her eight assists attested to in the Marquette game.
Then they have a spiritual leader in Liz Repella, and they have a scorer in Korinne Campbell, who had 21 points, and they have an inside presence with the improving freshman Asya Bussie and a rebounder and hustler in Madina Ali, who tore down 11 boards and made a spectacular hustle play.
Ali defected a Marquette pass, chased it down the floor all the way from the front court to her own free throw line, won a fight for the ball as she did a split that nearly tore her in two and then got the ball to a teammate.
“I’ve handstands and cartwheels on the court, but never a split,” Ali joked.
And as for where the hustle came from, she remarked:
“When I tipped the ball I heard Coach Carey’s voice in my head telling me to keep going,” she said.
When all of that was put together, this became an easy victory.
Now what’s left of the regular season is a Monday trip to Syracuse to play in the Carrier Dome in front of about 33,500 fewer fans than were there on Saturday night to watch the Orange men play Villanova.
Carey is looking at it as a war, even though he already has clinched the double bye.
“I don’t want to go into the Big East Tournament on a loss,” he said.
E-mail Bob Hertzel at email@example.com.