The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

February 8, 2011

WVU women get date with UConn

MORGANTOWN — Once upon a time — isn’t that how all fairy tales begin — this was going to be the game of the century for West Virginia women’s basketball.

This was the year they had a chance to beat the world’s greatest women’s team — Connecticut.

They would be home. The house would be full. They would be flying high.

And then they had to play the season.

Now what.

Connecticut slipped once, lost to Stanford, and today finds itself ranked second in the country, but moving up after beating No. 3 Duke by 36 points and No. 9 DePaul by 23.

West Virginia? It got to No. 6, then lost and lost and lost to Pitt. PITT. The Panthers were 10-11 when they beat WVU … and the Mountaineers at one time were talking about beating Connecticut.

Teneisha Harrison scored 30 points on the Mountaineers. How many will Maya Moore score?

Moore is simply the best player in the country.

Moore leads the nation in scoring with 24.5 points a game on 55.9 percent shooting. She is the nation’s 17th best free throw shooter at 87.9 percent. West Virginia’s best free throw shooter is Madina Ali with 76.1 percent.

Moore has scored 41 in a single game and averages 8.3 rebounds a game.

Now for the bad news. Four other players will be on the floor for Connecticut with her.

But this not about WVU against Connecticut.

It’s about, as guard Vanessa House said just minutes before last night’s West Virginia-Pitt men’s game, about West Virginia against itself.

“This is about us,” she said.

The Mountaineers don’t have to prove that they can beat Connecticut now. They have to prove they can just play a good game.

“We have to show we can play,” House said.

What they did against Pitt was not good, that is for certain. What they did in losing to Georgetown and DePaul was not good either. Three losses in four games.

The season had turned into a pumpkin.

Mike Carey, the coach who is obviously totally perplexed and confounded by what has taken place, was asked on Monday if this was a good time to play Connecticut.

His answer was honest.

“There’s never a good time to play Connecticut,” he said.

What do you do against a team that has won its last 10 games, averaging 80.6 points a game while shooting 50.7 percent from the field? What do you do to a team that is beating its opponents by an average of 30.5 points a game?

Connecticut is not invincible, having lost to Stanford, 71-59, on Dec. 30 last year, ending an 88-game winning streak. At the time, you may recall, WVU players were somewhat upset that UConn had lost, ruining their chance to get a shot at ending the streak.

That was so long ago.

Certainly, there’s a lot wrong with WVU at present and Carey had only a couple of days to turn them right.

“You’ve got to go in believing you can win or you don’t have a chance,” Carey said.

The problem is how do you believe after having played so badly against Pitt?

“We’re just struggling now,” Carey said. “I showed our girls, we’re up four on Pitt (with 2:20 to go) even though we were playing terribly. Then we made mistakes and got outscored 11-0 with all upperclass players playing. I never envisioned that.”

A huge crowd is expected at the Coliseum, one that the Mountaineers would turn on the competitive juices and allow the team to recapture what it had early in the season.

That, however, may not be enough to get WVU its second victory in 23 meetings with UConn.

E-mail Bob Hertzel at bhertzel@hotmail.com.

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