By Bob Hertzel
Times West Virginian
In the glow of Wednesday’s overwhelming 77-45 victory over No. 12 Oklahoma State, West Virginia University center Asya Bussie offered one sobering thought.
“We have to remember this win doesn’t mean anything if we don’t beat Kansas State on Saturday,” she said.
And nothing could be truer than that.
The Mountaineers, ranked 13th in the nation and poised to jump perhaps into the Top 10 in next week’s pool, travel to Manhattan, Kansas, primed for an upset if they don’t take care of business.
They come in riding a high off the emotional victory that marked the widest margin of victory over a ranked team in the program’s history, a victory earned on an evening they were honoring a popular senior student manager who had been stricken with Hodgkin’s lymphoma and is undergoing chemotherapy while finishing her degree and continuing with the team.
The Mountaineers have won six in a row and 10 of 11 and stand just one game behind Baylor in the race for the regular-season title … and just now are beginning to accomplish one of the major things they set out to accomplish – gaining respect.
“I’m proud of this team,” coach Mike Carey said. “We’re proving a lot of people wrong and getting respect.”
“It’s all about respect. You have to earn respect,” added senior Christal Caldwell. “We want to get a little bit more respect. We have our fans behind us; we still haven’t gotten over that edge.”
Indeed, somehow they went into the OSU game having already owned a victory over the Cowgirls at their place and with a better record, yet ranked behind them.
Now, they have respect but have to build on it and can’t afford a letdown against a K-State team that is 10-15 and 4-10 in Big 12 play to rank ninth in the 10-team conference.
WVU comes in with four players scoring in double figures, led by sophomore guard Bria Holmes, who is emerging as a star.
Holmes is averaging 14.8 points a game and comes off a 20-point performance against Oklahoma State, 17 of them coming in the first half as the Mountaineers build a huge lead.
Bussie, who is putting an exclamation point on her career, averages 13.2 points per game while hauling in 7.8 rebounds, while Caldwell averages 12.1 and Taylor Palmer comes off the bench to average 10.7 points a game.
Leticia Romero powers Kansas State, averaging 14.2 points a game while also leading in rebounding with 5.6 and topping the team in field goals made at 119, free throws made, 86; assists, 116; and steals 45.
WVU leads the all-time series 3-0, the latest being am 84-44 route on Feb. 8 at the Coliseum in which Holmes scored 31 points.
Saturday’s game will air live with the Mountaineer Sports Network from IMG online at WVUsports.com. In Morgantown the game will air live on 100.9 WSZT-FM.
Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel.