The Times West Virginian

January 19, 2013

Mountaineers set for No. 1 Baylor


Times West Virginian

MORGANTOWN — From the time Mike Carey walked into his office at West Virginia University as the women’s head basketball coach more than a decade ago, he has been plagued by facing America’s best women’s team in Connecticut.

Well, UConn is no longer the best team in the nation, but then again, that doesn’t do Carey a whole lot of good because he’s taken his team into the Big 12, where the nation’s No. 1 team, Baylor, resides, and that’s the challenge that lies ahead of him at 8 p.m. today in Waco, Texas.

The Bears are ranked No. 1 in both polls.

West Virginia has never beaten a No. 1 team, losing all 14 of its efforts against the nation’s top team.

That does not mean they aren’t looking forward to finding a way to upset Baylor and its all-universe center Brittney Griner.

“We’re not going down there just to show up. We’ll get after them and see what we can do,” Carey vowed.

A year ago the Mountaineers went to No. 2 Notre Dame and beat the Fighting Irish in their house, so they have experience playing in games like this.

The Mountaineers have won three in a row, the last an uninspired, looking-ahead victory over TCU.

They can’t get away playing the way they played against the Horned Frogs facing this team, that not only boosts the 6-foot, 8-inch Griner and her Big 12-leading 21.6 scoring average on 59.6 shooting but the nation’s best point guard in Odyssey Sims.

“The team plays hard for 40 minutes,” Carey said of Baylor. “That’s why they are No. 1 in the country. Now they have great talent not only at the 1 and the 5, but at the 2, 3 and 4 and bring it off the bench. So we will see a team that plays hard for 40 minutes.”

Baylor owns a 15-1 season record, 5-0 in the Big 12, and has won its last 13 games. In Big 12 play, it is winning by an average of 30.1 points a game.

WVU is 11-5 and 3-2 in Big 12 play, the last three games all being victories after an 0-2 conference start.

The Mountaineers are looking forward to the challenge, said senior center Ayana Dunning facing perhaps the biggest challenge in having to deal with Griner.

“It’s exciting,” she said. “Playing in the Big 12, we’re excited to be able to go out and play some of the best competition in the country night in and night out. And to be able to play the No. 1 team in the country, I think everyone is up for it. Everyone is excited.

“I’m just going to go out there and play,” she added. “We’ll work on the scout and the things we need to do. For our defensive scheme, I know it’s going to have to be a team effort. But we’re getting ready for that.

“This is a game that, hopefully, we’ll be able to match their intensity and just go out there and play.”

Today’s game will be broadcast live by Fox Sports Southwest with John Morris and Jim Haller on the call.