The Times West Virginian

January 18, 2014

FURFARI COLUMN: WVU women prove most deserving of Top 25 ranking

By Mickey Furfari
Times West Virginian

MORGANTOWN — Hopefully, the West Virginia University women’s basketball team will be finally nationally ranked when the polls are updated on Monday.

The Mountaineers are now 15-2 overall and 4-1 in the Big 12 Conference after Wednesday night’s 73-59 shocking upset victory at No. 13-ranked Iowa State in Ames, Iowa.

You may recall that on Jan. 4, in Stillwater, Okla., the West Virginia women beat No. 11-ranked Oklahoma State by 71-67.

But that wasn’t quite enough to convince voters in either The Associated Press writers poll or USA Today coaches poll that WVU was deserving.

If both don’t have the Mountaineers in the Top 25 next week, someone should demand recounts. That’s the thought herein.

Don’t those two WVU all-time great triumphs over Nos. 11 and 13 as well as the 15-2 record merit inclusion somewhere in the Top 25 of both polls?

Coach Mike Carey, his assistants and all of the players have been doing an excellent job this season. They’re so deserving and obviously proud of their vast achievements to date.

We’re talking about the institution’s most successful team among the three major sports teams by far. Those sports obviously include football and men’s basketball.

Baseball will follow in February, of course. And that sport fared very well under new head coach Randy Masey in 2013.

In this connection, however, I most certainly appreciate the achievements of WVU’s other sports, especially the women’s soccer team that gave the school its only Big 12 championship so far.

Let’s get back to women’s basketball:

Carey said after the Iowa state game, “This was a great win for us against a very good basketball team. We were in foul trouble for most of the game.

“But our girls came off the bench and did a great job.

“The first half I thought we did an excellent job defensively. Every time they cut it, we go back up nine points, so that was good to see.”

Making this triumph even more significant in program history is the fact that the Mountaineers were never behind from start to finish.

Could that be a “first” against a ranked women’s team in program history?

Just as impressive against the Cyclones (14-2, 3-2 Big 12), WVU held them to a mere seven field goals— none a 3-pointer— during the first half.

The Mountaineers led 36-23 at intermission. Early in the second half it was 48-32.

WVU shot 41.5 percent from the field, making 22 of 53, and cashed a remarkable 13 of 15 free throws (86.7 percent). Rebounds were even at 33 for each team.

The WVU women return to action at home, hosting Oklahoma (11-6, 2-2 Big 12) today.

Tip-off time is 2 p.m. A large crowd is expected.