Times West Virginian
Senior center Asya Bussie returns to the court for the first time in a year as West Virginia University’s women’s basketball team opens the 2013-14 season at 5:30 p.m. today against Ohio State at the Coliseum.
It is the opening game of a basketball doubleheader, WVU’s men’s team following with its opener against Mount St. Mary’s.
The Mountaineer women are coming off a 101-26 exhibition victory over Concord last Friday and enter this season with four returning starters and nine returning letter-winners from a year ago. Last season, WVU recorded a 17-14 overall mark and 9-9 record in the Big 12 Conference, making its fourth consecutive trip to the NCAA tournament.
Bussie, a senior co-captain who led the team in scoring as a junior and was named preseason All-Big 12, returns to the court after rehabbing a knee injury last season. Fellow co-captain senior Jess Harlee, a Big 12 all-defensive team selection, also returns to the court after rehabbing a knee injury from the final regular-season game of 2012-13.
Senior guard Christal Caldwell was named preseason All-Big 12 honorable mention and is the team’s returning scoring and steals leader with 13.1 points per game and 51 steals last season. Senior guard Taylor Palmer rounds out the top three scorers as she brings back 9.9 points per game and 63 threes from a year ago. Brooke Hampton is the fifth senior to return this season, and will see time at the point guard position.
“Being aggressive offensively — that’s something we’ve been working on all summer and something we continue to work on,” coach Mike Carey said. “Christal Caldwell and Taylor Palmer have really worked hard, and Bria Holmes really improved over the summer. We think we have a lot of pieces, and I’ll be able to really bring people in and out. I think we’re pretty deep, as deep as we’ve ever been, so we’ll be able to keep fresh people in there and do some other things.”
The Mountaineers are 31-9 all-time in home openers in the WVU Coliseum, having won 13 consecutive, with 12 under Carey. WVU trails 10-0 in the all-time series with Ohio State, having never played at the Coliseum under Carey. The last time the teams met was Nov. 19, 2009, when Ohio State defeated WVU 92-69 in a preseason WNIT game in Columbus.
Fans can attend the doubleheader for $10 by purchasing a ticket to the men’s game vs. Mount St. Mary’s. One ticket gains admission to both games of the doubleheader.