MORGANTOWN — Mike Carey thinks the West Virginia University women’s basketball team has the potential to be the best in his five years as the head coach.

“It’s just a matter of us reaching our potential,” he said Friday afternoon.

Going into tonight’s game at Duquesne (7:05), the Mountaineers have compiled some fantastic figures during their 4-2 start.

Olayinka Sanni, 6-foot-2 sophomore center, leads the nation in field-goal shooting percentage at 71.7. And the team is sinking 50.7 percent of its shots (170-335) to rank third.

In averaging 73.8 points a game, WVU incredibly has put together five consecutive games in which it shot 50 percent or better. It’s holding opponents to 35.7 percent.

“We are encouraged in shooting the ball so well and also that our two losses were by just a combined five points,” Carey said.

“But the problem is we’re at the bottom of the Big East with the most turnovers (114). And when we do get an opportunity to shoot, we’re shooting it well — taking good shots and high-percentage shots.”

However, he’s looking for more consistency in his team’s performances.

“If you look at our stats, it’s turnovers and foul shots (that hurt),” Carey noted. “We’re not shooting well from the foul line (64.0 percent) and we’re turning the ball over too much.”

He believes if his team can improve in those two areas, then it has a chance to be pretty good this season.

Junior Meg Bulger, last year’s Big East scoring champion, leads the Mountaineers in all-around play. She’s averaging a team-best 19.0 points and 7.0 rebounds per game.

She also has 26 assists, 12 steals and four shot-blocks.

“Meg is the one we need to lead this team,” Carey said. “Opponents throw all kinds of defenses designed to stop her.

“We’ve got to have others contributing to open it up a little for her. She does so many things for us.”

Carey also is pleased with Sanni’s production.

“Her footwork is a lot better this year,” he said. “She’s a lot stronger, and she’s doing a great job.

“The other ladies are doing a good job of getting her the basketball. She does a good job of passing the ball out of the post.

“She’s going to get better, and we need to go inside/out this year. That’s our strength.”

Sanni, surprised to learn she’s No. 1 in sharpshooting, just bends her knees and focuses on the backboard and rim.

“And I’m able to power-move more than I did last year,” she said. “Every game is different. At times I get double- and triple-teamed.

“There’s no way I envisioned shooting 70 percent for a full season. But I’m in better shape this year and that has helped me.”

Pretty much, it’s a case of Bulger from outside and Sanni along with Yelena Leuchanka inside.

“I think last year we were taking more low-percentage shots,” Bulger said. “Because we have such a great inside game now, we’re getting a lot more good shots.”

The Pittsburgh native added, “I don’t think I’ve ever played on a team that shot 50-plus percent five games in a row — certainly not in high school.”

Sanni is averaging 14.8 ppg and 4.0 rebounds. Leuchanka, a 6-5 senior, comes off the bench to average 12.7 points and a team-high 9.7 rebounds.

Chakhia Cole, 5-10 sophomore, 5-7 junior Britney Davis-White, and 5-6 freshman point guard Ashley Powell round out the starting lineup.

Cole is scoring at a 9.0 clip and pulling down 5.8 rebounds per game. Davis-White is next at 5.8 and 3.0.

Powell and Sarah Bucar, also a freshman, share playing time at point guard. Powell has 31 assists and Bucar 13.

“I really can’t say there’s a leader right now,” Carey admitted. “Ashley is starting and, hopefully, between here and Sarah we can get a full 40 minutes.

“Ashley is doing a good job, but she gets a little tired and a little lackadaisical at times. Sarah has done some good things coming in.”

Carey said he feels about his young point guards somewhat the same as WVU football coach Rich Rodriguez felt about his quarterbacks at season’s start.

“I just hope this (alternating point guards) works out as well as it did for him this year.”

Carey’s WVU record for four-plus seasons is 75-53. That includes a perfect 24-0 mark at home against non-conference teams.

Bulger, meanwhile, is climbing the all-time school ladder. She’s fifth in career three-point field goals (138), fifth in 30-point games (5) and sixth in 20-point games (20).

She earned All-America recognition last year.

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