By Bob Hertzel
For the Times West Virginian
West Virginia’s women’s basketball team continues its push toward the NCAA Tournament at 7 p.m. when it faces a skidding Kansas State team at the Coliseum.
While WVU has won two straight and five of its last seven to lift its record to 16-10, 8-7 in Big 12 plays, the Wildcats have lost three in a row and five of their last six.
That has dropped them to 13-14 on the season and just 4-11 in conference play. K-State has won only one of seven Big 12 road games, winning at TCU, 57-54.
In the first meeting of the year between the teams in Manhattan, Kan., WVU won easily, 66-52. It’s the only time the two teams have faced each other.
The Mountaineers are coming off a road victory over TCU, 66-56, on Saturday in Fort Worth, riding a 19-point outburst from junior guard Taylor Palmer, who had been struggling. Palmer found the range from 3-point land, canning five triples.
Christal Caldwell, WVU’s leading scorer with a 12.9 average, will be trying to shake the effects of a scoring slump that has seen her score just two and four points in her last two games.
Caldwell has 18 double-figure games this season.
Palmer and senior Ya Ya Dunning are behind Caldwell in scoring with 10.2 points per outing.
WVU coach Mike Carey continues to use his bench as the Mountaineer reserves account for 29 percent of all scoring in Big 12 games this season. Freshman guard Bria Holmes is the leading scorer off the bench with 5.8 points per league game and is coming off back-to-back double-figure scoring outings. Jess Harlee also provides a spark as a reserve with 5.3 points per league game and 5.3 rebounds per Big 12 outing.
Senior guard Brittany Chambers leads the Wildcats in scoring and rebounding with 19.2 points per game and 7.4 rebounds per game. Averaging 18.8 points per league game, Chambers holds the third-highest scoring average of all Big 12 players. On the boards, Chambers averages 7.0 rebounds per league contest, the 10th-highest average in the league.
Behind Chambers, Haley Texada averages double-figure scoring numbers with 12.4 points in conference-only games. As a team, Kansas State leads the league in 3-point field goals made as it averages 8.9 threes per game.
Texada holds K-State’s highest 3-point field goal percentage in league play with 30.6 percent, ranking as the fourth-highest percentage in the league. Behind Texada, freshman Bri Craig and Chambers also rank in the top 10 for their respective 3-point field goal percentages at No. 6 and No. 7 with 28.3 and 28 percent, respectively.
Chambers has collected the most threes for K-State with 71, including 37 in league play. Craig, who has started all league games, is the second-leading 3-point shooter with 50 total threes and 32 in league play.
The Mountaineers have been consistent at guarding the three, holding league opponents to only 29.3 percent from beyond the arc, the second-lowest percentage in Big 12 play. WVU averages 5.9 threes per game and had a season-high 10 team threes in the last outing at TCU.
Email Bob Hertzel at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @bhertzel.