By Bob Hertzel
Times West Virginian
It was halftime of a game in which West Virginia University’s women’s team had things mostly going its way, leading Boston University, 39-30. The new up-tempo lineup coach Mike Carey had installed had done much of what he wanted, giving them some energy.
As they went to the locker room, the team probably was expecting a pizza party for its performance, but it turns out that the pizza party had to wait until after the game because the stat sheet that was handed out got Carey’s attention in a hurry.
Boston U. had shot 54 percent for the half.
“We had a little heart-to-heart talk about that,” Carey revealed after his team turned up the heat in the second half and waltzed away with a 78-53 win before 1,826 at the Coliseum.
And, Carey was asked, exactly what he meant by a “heart-to-heart,” suspecting it wasn’t exactly a quiet little conversation with his team giving its opinion.
“Oh, I asked them if they could pick up the defense a little in the second half, but I asked very nice,” he said with a smile that gave away his sarcasm. “I really meant it from my heart.”
When asked what Carey’s “very nice” heart-to-heart talk was like, forward Jessica Harlee smiled her own sarcastic smile and said, “Of course, he always says things nicely.”
She stopped and thought for a second, then added, “Actually, this was not as bad as it usually is.”
Whatever Carey said, he got the point across, as his team — which has not given up 60 points in any game this year and whose trademark is its defense — held the Terriers to just 23 second-half points and a shooting percentage of 20.8 percent.
“We had to pick up the energy on defense in the second half, and we weren’t letting them catch the ball,” said Taylor Palmer. “Their best players had trouble getting the ball.”
If Carey was somewhat less, eh, gruff in this chat, it is because he really is trying to be more patient with this young team. After all, he moved point guard Linda Stepney, whom he is easing back into the lineup after missing a lot of time with a stress fracture, and forward Chrystal Leary into the starting lineup.
The lineup provided the energy Carey was looking for as things were happening throughout on offense. Inside Asya Bussie was scoring 17 and grabbing 10 rebounds, getting a lot of help from Ayana Dunning, who scored six and had seven boards.
Taylor Palmer was her usual self with 16 points, playing just 28 minutes before fouling out, while Stepney did some wonderful things at the point, including getting out of one mess as she tried to inbound at the baseline by bouncing the ball off the defenders back in front of her and stepping in bounds to retrieve the ball.
Stepney had four points and five assists with two turnovers, while sophomore Brooke Hampton, whose place she took in the starting lineup, ran the break well and had seven assists and a turnover.
“Linda Stepney tries to create out there,” Palmer said. “We’re learning how to play with her, and she’s learning how to play with us.”
The Mountaineers take their first step into Big East play this week as they travel to Syracuse to play against the Orange in an early conference game, something the conference initiated last year.
“I’d rather not play one early conference game,” Carey admitted.
The reason, of course, is that this young team is still inconsistent.
“It’s going to be a roller coaster all year,” he said.
Email Bob Hertzel at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @bhertzel.