The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

College Sports

January 7, 2014

Was West Virginia women’s upset win, late rally best ever?

MORGANTOWN — That absolutely amazing 71-67 upset victory at Oklahoma State last Saturday night was, in this TV viewer’s opinion, the finest game in the West Virginia women’s 40-year basketball program history.

What’s more, the Mountaineers required a 15-2 game-winning rally during the final five minutes against those undefeated, 11th-ranked Cowgirls (now 12-1). The win might have been the best WVU head coach Mike Carey ever orchestrated.

Carey, a Clarksburg native, is in his 13th season here. And his record of 257-114 is the best percentage-wise at .649. Kittie Blakemore, the first-ever head coach of the WVU women’s program, had a 19-year record of 301-214 (.584 percentage).

Sophomore guard Bria Holmes led West Virginia in its 13th consecutive conquest of the season with 21 points, including the vital final seven points.

Senior center Asya Bussie tallied 13 points and seven rebounds, while senior guard Christal Caldwell chipped in 13 points and two assists.

In all, 10 players contributed to this significant Mountaineer victory on national television. But there were only 3,006 fans watching in Oklahoma State’s Lloyd Noble Center (12,000 seats).

Carey, who came to WVU in 2002 after having spent 13 years as head coach of men’s basketball at Salem International, his alma mater, told reporters after the unexpected win:

“That was a great game. Oklahoma State has a great team. They kicked our butt on the glass and I thought they outhustled us for a majority of the game.”

The Cowgirls led by as many as 13 points in each half, as Carey readily admitted. He explained that he was trying to find a combination of five people who played hard.

“Finally, I put Jess Harlee at the four (position) and I thought she helped us on the perimeter, got us going a little better,” Carey admitted.

“Our girls showed a lot of heart. They fought back, so you have to give our girls a lot of credit also.”

Indeed, the Mountaineers, 13-1 overall and 2-0 in the Big 12, are most deserving.

Two free throws gave OSU a nine-point advantage at 65-56 with five minutes left. Then the rally followed.

Although outrebounded 45-34, West Virginia shot .464 percent from the field (24 of 51). Defensively, the Mountaineers held Oklahoma State to .317 percent (20 of 63).

WVU also excelled at the free-throw line, making 18 of 25 (.720). The Cowgirls made 21 of 32 free throws (.656).

Eight blocked shots, five by Bussie, also had to be a major factor in WVU’s memorable win that night. OSU blocked no shots.

Carey, a two-time Coach of the Year in the Big East Conference, has earned numerous honors during his 26-year head-coaching career. You’ll find in a review of the 40 years of women’s basketball, Carey has more “best in program history” achievements than any of his predecessors.

Hopefully, there will be a considerably larger crowd than usual to welcome the women’s team back for a Wednesday game against Baylor. Tipoff at the Coliseum is 7 p.m.

Carey’s crew also will remain home for a Sunday noon contest against Texas.

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