By Bob Hertzel
Times West Virginian
In the Carey residence, which is owned by West Virginia University women’s basketball coach Mike Carey, there is a room that his family has named his “Pouting Room.”
It’s where he goes and spends time after losses, a place away from sharp objects and ropes and that is definitely on the ground floor.
He had spent a lot of time in that room lately, trying to shake off the effects of a two-game losing streak on the road that seemed to have encompassed at least half his life. In fact, he spent so much time there alone that he was surprised when his phone rang and he found his wife on the other line.
“I hope you win tonight,” she said, “because I’ve got to tell you something.”
“What’s that?” Carey asked.
“I can’t get anywhere. Both cars are in the shop,” she answered.
That, one now sees, is why Tuesday night’s 59-45 victory over Providence at the Coliseum was so important.
There was a time when Carey and his team thought they might be good enough to knock off Connecticut, which comes to town next Tuesday. The Mountaineers had climbed to No. 6 in the country, had only one loss of their schedule, and were beating most everyone quite easily.
Oh, Carey knew it wasn’t all that good.
“He was telling us we weren’t blocking out, we weren’t defending, we weren’t sharp but we were winning, so it didn’t hit us,” said Liz Repella, who helped WVU end the mini-losing streak with a team-leading 16 points. “Then we went on the road and played two Top 25 teams. They exposed our weaknesses.”
First it was Georgetown, 65-60, then DePaul in a terribly embarrassing 78-55 loss in which the Mountaineers could not manage so much as one fast-break point.
It left everyone heading for whatever room they use for pouting, although they were eager to get home and get back on the court to try and work out the problems.
“When you get embarrassed like that, every player wants to get back and redeem themselves,” Repella said.
And so it was that the Mountaineers had something to prove and they came out fast and hard.
It took Providence almost 7 minutes to score, being down 10-0 before scoring its first basket. And while the Friars did battle back into the game, cutting the gap to three by hitting a slew of 3-point shots in the first half, they never led.
The 3s that Providence hit took WVU much by surprise, considering they were the worst 3-point shooting team in the Big East Conference. But then, when you are on a losing streak …
“That did not surprise me,” Carey would say. “We tell the girls to back off and play the drive and they start hitting 3s.”
Providence just didn’t have enough and the Mountaineer used their talent, that included Aysa Bussie, who hit 10 of 11 free throws to finish with 14 points while grabbing six rebounds, and Madina Ali, playing with a painful stress fracture in her lower left leg, who had 13 points and eight rebounds.
“It’s bothering me,” Ali admitted after going hard in the game, once even slamming into the front row of seats as she tried to perform a save. “I’m sucking it up.”
Not that it stuns anyone on the team.
“She’s hard-headed,” Repella said. “She’s just a fighter.”
“She knows me well,” Ali said when informed of Repella’s comment. “They call me stubborn. I wanted to work hard and show them I was not going to baby it.”
The Mountaineers return to the home court at 4 p.m. Saturday to take on arch-rival Pitt.
E-mail Bob Hertzel at firstname.lastname@example.org.