The Times West Virginian

December 24, 2011

Mountaineer women look to keep ‘attitude’

Times West Virginian

MORGANTOWN — West Virginia University women’s basketball coach Mike Carey wants to see his team display some “attitude” when the season resumes with Bucknell’s visit to the Coliseum at noon on Wednesday.

With five players scoring in double figures, the WVU defeated Mount St. Mary’s 94-32 last Tuesday.

“Overall, I was pleased,” Carey said. “I thought they came out with a little bit of attitude. I want a little bit of attitude on this team. It was good to see a couple of players dive on the floor that have not. It was good to see somebody other than Jess Harlee take a charge, and that’s what we have to get. We have to get four, five, six or seven of them that are going to take charges, dive on the floor and will execute at the end of the game in a close game.”

Sophomore guard Taylor Palmer paved the way with a game-leading 21 points, shooting 50 percent from the field (7-14) and four 3-pointers. Behind Palmer, redshirt-sophomore Christal Caldwell broke out a career-best 17 points on 8-of-16 shooting and junior Asya Bussie recorded 13 points. Sophomore Jess Harlee and freshman Linda Stepney rounded out the top five scorers with 10 points each. Sophomore Brooke Hampton added another eight points, including a pair of threes, and also dished out eight assists.

“Taylor Palmer shot well from the perimeter. I wanted to get the ball inside a little bit more than what we did and the second half I thought we did better job getting the ball inside. (Christal) Caldwell attacked tonight and was not so tentative,” Carey said. “Linda Stepney attacked a little bit and wasn’t so tentative so that was good to see. It also good to get a lot of people playing time going into break.”

Caldwell stepped up to lead the Mountaineers (8-3) in rebounding with nine boards. WVU took a 46-21 rebounding advantage over The Mount (5-5). The Mountaineers also forced 25 Mount St. Mary’s turnovers and limited their own to 13. WVU had 12 steals, led by Stepney, who grabbed four, and had seven team blocks behind Natalie Burton’s four.

The Mountaineers shot 60 percent (36-60) from the floor, 64 percent (16-25) from 3-point range and 42.9 percent (6-14) from the free throw line. The Mount shot 23.9 percent from the field, 23.5 percent (4-17) from beyond the arc and 60 percent (6-10) from the free throw line.

It was a bounce-back game as WVU held the lead for 31 minutes but was unable to overcome a late run, falling 61-55 at Duquesne last Saturday.

“Suzie (McConnell-Serio) does a great job,” Carey said. “They’re well coached. Give them a lot of credit. They never quit and kept battling. I’m just frustrated because we had the game won, up 15 late in the second half, and got rattled. Give her credit. She changed up the defense and we started turning it over and they started scoring.”

The Mountaineers pulled away from a 49-49 tie to lead by four with just over three minutes to play when the Dukes (9-1) used a 7-0 run capped by an Orsi Szecsi three to take the final lead with just over a minute to play. Forced to foul, Duquesne converted 6-of-7 final free throws to come away with the win.

WVU came out of a 24-18 halftime lead and stretched the deficit to as many as 17 at the 14:33 mark (40-23), but a combination of turnovers, fouls and missed shots allowed the Dukes to make a comeback with a 14-0 run down to the final minutes.

“They did a simple 2-2-1 and our guards just panicked and started turning the ball over and they started scoring,” Carey said. “They got the momentum and we just never could recover. We worked on that for about two months. I’m very frustrated. I kept putting guards in and explaining what we needed to do, but our guards just didn’t adjust to their 2-2-1. We just quit attacking and got tentative. We’ve seen it all year, but we just got rattled for some reason.”