Ben Queen/MetroNews photo

Senior Taylor Palmer averages 10.3 points—one of four West Virginia players scoring in double digits.


MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Having wrecked Baylor’s senior night, the No. 7-ranked West Virginia women aim to savor theirs.

Just 48 hours removed from an emotional and electrifying victory in Waco, the recharged Mountaineers shoot for a piece of the Big 12 title on Tuesday night against Kansas.

West Virginia (26-3, 15-2), dead-even with Baylor entering the final night of the regular season, plans to honor five seniors who comprise the nucleus of what coach Mike Carey called his deepest and most selfless team.

Asya Bussie, who took a medical redshirt last season after a knee injury, said she couldn’t fathom how “this life I’ve had for the past five years is about to come to an end.” Christal Caldwell said she was stuck between excitement and sentimentality, realizing it would be her “last time rolling out the carpet, lat time hearing the gun go off.”

They’ll join 1,000-point career scorer Taylor Palmer, scrappy forward Jess Harlee and recently injured Brooke Hampton on what promises to be a memorable night.

“I’ve had a lot of seniors before but not seniors who accepted their roles like this one has,” Carey said. “They don’t care who goes out and scores. Whoever gets hot they feed her the ball.

“And this team likes to play defense. I’ve had teams with three or four players who liked to play defense, but everybody who comes on the floor for us enjoys defense.”

That defensive intensity provided the game-changing moment on Sunday when a WVU trap coerced Baylor All-American Odyssey Sims into a turnover that Averee Fields drove 80 feet for the go-ahead basket with 11 seconds left. At the close of their 71-69 upset, Mountaineers players sprang onto the court, embracing and screaming and sucking the joy out of the Ferrel Center.

“Everybody’s jumping around and that’s great, but the problem is we’ve got to to play Kansas on Tuesday,” reminded Carey in his most curmudgeonly tone. “If you don’t win Tuesday, then you don’t accomplish your goal. I’m just worried that everybody’s telling them how good they are.”

The Mountaineers had ample time to contemplate their monumental win while enduring travel delays and reroutes on the return trip from Texas. Forced to take a three-hour bus ride from Waco to Austin, the team flew toward Clarksburg only to learn the winter storm had shutdown the airport. After landing in Pittsburgh late Sunday, they were greeted by dangerous road conditions and stayed at a Pittsburgh hotel.

The team finally returned to Morgantown on Monday in the nick of time for a midday practice.

As Carey fretted over a letdown—noting that Kansas (12-17, 5-12) was the only other Big 12 team to beat Baylor now-No. 9 Baylor—the WVU veterans vowed to stay on point.

“It’s senior night, and there’s a championship on the line,” Caldwell said. “I think we’ll be ready.”

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  • pghmountaineer

    I agree Aaron. I sensed they got a little tight and started playing not to loose instead of playing to win.
    But hey, they did something that only the men's programs can dream about at this point.
    Carey is a heck of a coach. I think he gets more out of those ladies than even they think they can do.

  • Aaron

    They made it interesting for a minute or so but congratulations to the 2013/14 Women's Big 12 Regular Season Conference Champions.

  • pghmountaineer

    They did it! Big 12 Champs.
    Congrats to the Lady EERs!

  • Charles

    Great job, ladies! It seems as if Mike Carey gets more out of his players than our esteemed FB and Men's BB coaches get out of theirs. I hope our Athletic Director has noticed and maybe will reward the coach with a nice bump in pay. After all, he jacked up Huggs and Holgs pay and they hadn't done anything to earn it. We're paying a worthless assistant FB coach over half a mil. Mr. Carey might be in demand for the job he's done. We better show our appreciation. How about a nice crowd tonight? The girls deserve it. They DO make you proud to be a Mountaineer.

  • Country Roads

    Awesome lady's you did it , after you beat KU this week you can hold your head high and proud, you are the Champs of the Big 12 conference. Accomplishment that very few people get to say and do that you have done it... Go Mountaineers...

  • wvrefugee

    Pack the Coliseum tonite for this team!!

  • PeaceMonWVU

    Good Luck to the WVU Ladies tonight against Kansas! Seal the deal for a Big 12 title!! This team plays with heart & determination!!! It' been a great season to watch this team play! Lets get the Mountaineer Nation behind the team & pack the coliseum tonight!!!
    Let's Go Mountaineers!!!

  • jay zoom

    glad I was not at the national spelling bee because I could never of spelled (curmudgeonly). but anyway good luck ladies. you have made this state proud and regardless of what happens the rest of the season your still number one (1) in my book.{Aysa - Christal - Brooke - Jess - Taylor) good luck in the future

    • Mister Man

      Could never of? Could never have.

    • Mark

      or "you're"...Let's go, Mountaineers!

      • wow

        Mark, does it make you feel big to point out a mistake? Your or I mean you're the man.

  • Aaron

    This is definately an impressive team. Hopefully these seniors will go out to a sold out crowd and the recognition from our states sports media they deserve.

  • Billy

    Allan Taylor, please define that two dollar word you used.
    I understand that you are a practicing journalist, but Help us out here and break it down a little.

    • Mark

      Asking questions like this might make him angry and annoyed...and careful!

  • Billy

    If this team was a team like Baylor with one player scoring over half the teams points, I would be worried too. With this TEAM, who can even predict who the leading scorer will be on any given night. I just have a feeling that they will have their game in gear and finish strong.

  • 4Mounties

    Good Luck Girls!! Bring home the title!! We are VERY proud of your hard work...