MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — On a championship night that carried extra sweetness for West Virginia’s five seniors, Bria Holmes was all too happy to play sixth man.

After deferring to a starting lineup of five seniors—including injured guard Brooke Hampton taking a ceremonial opening tip—the sophomore Holmes scored 16 points and the No. 7 Mountaineers beat Kansas 67-60 for a share of the Big 12 championship.

A crowd of 5,052 was on hand, the second-largest home crowd of the season, to see West Virginia (27-3, 16-2) hoist the trophy. Even though No. 9 Baylor (26-4, 16-2) secured its piece of a fourth consecutive title by whipping Iowa State 70-54 in Ames, that didn’t diminish the celebration in Morgantown.

MORE: Reaction from the Big 12 co-champs

“To win the Big 12 in your second year is great, and to do it with this group is great,” said coach Mike Carey. “I really mean what I say about these seniors—they deserve this.

“I want to thank the whole crowd—great crowd and great enthusiasm. Our girls really appreciated that. That’s the way to send these girls off.”

Hampton, out since suffering a knee injury in mid-February, was inserted into the starting five for the first time all season. She exited just two seconds into the game when West Virginia called timeout after claiming the tipoff. Also in the lineup for the first time was senior co-captain Jess Harlee, and another honoree, Taylor Palmer, made only her third start. They joined regulars Asya Bussie and Christal Caldwell, who scored 14 points each.

“A lot of tears, a lot of sweat,” said Bussie, whose career was prolonged because of last season’s medical redshirt. “It feels really good. This is something that we’ve always wanted, all throughout our careers. It’s a good feeling finally achieving this goal.”

Though Carey’s first 12 West Virginia teams averaged 20-plus wins and reached nine postseason tournaments, none were able to end the program’s title drought that stretched back to 1992. But after this team proved different, winning 10 straight to close the regular season, including Sunday’s signature upset at then-No. 6 Baylor.

By Tuesday night, there was an overwhelming sense of accomplishment—and a little relief—after the Mountaineers disposed of Kansas (12-18, 5-13). West Virginia had a quiet night from 3-point range, finishing 2-of-9, and shot only 39 percent overall. The difference was a 17-9 edge in forced turnovers and WVU’s 45-39 edge on the glass. Bussie grabbed nine of those rebounds.

Based on conference tiebreakers, the Lady Bears grabbed the top seed in the Big 12 tournament, while West Virginia settled for No. 2. Both earned first-round byes and will play Saturday in Oklahoma City, with WVU drawing the TCU-Texas Tech winner.

For once, however, Carey wasn’t so focused on the next opponent. As his players took turns trimming down the nets, he wanted them to savor the moment.

“I just said ‘Let’s enjoy this,’ and I gave them one day off.”

Kansas threatened to play spoiler much of the night and even led 36-34 with 17 minutes left on a Bunny Williams layup. Then Linda Stepney drove for the tying basket that sparked a 19-7 WVU run over the ensuing six minutes.

During a later stretch, West Virginia held Kansas without a field goal for 5:41. The lead ballooned to as much as 13 and never shrank below five points. When the game tightened up at 64-59, Bussie grabbed an offensive rebound and WVU reset, leading to Holmes’ backbreaking layup at the 1:19 mark.

Holmes was active and impactful, scoring 10 points in the second half on 5-of-7 shooting. And when the victory was done and the title was won, she couldn’t fathom how far her team had progressed. Remember opening night on this same Coliseum floor? When Ohio State beat WVU handily? Those Buckeyes own a 15-17 record now. The Mountaineers of March show little semblance to the Mountaineers of November.

For sure, Holmes and other underclassmen have helped WVU make its climb, yet Tuesday night was a culmination that belonged to the seniors.

Harlee produced nine points and, like Caldwell, grabbed six rebounds. Palmer played some point guard like she was in high school. Carey had a hug for each senior who paraded to the bench.

“A lot of tears, a lot of sweat. It feels really good. This is something that we’ve always wanted, all throughout our careers.” — senior center Asya Bussie

The postgame singing of “Country Roads” sounded more gleeful than ever and that was before someone pulled away a blue table cloth off to reveal the Big 12 trophy.

“We didn’t know we were going to get the trophy—we thought we were just going to get T-shirts or something,” said Palmer.

CeCe Harper scored 19 points and Natalie Knight added 17 for the Jayhawks.

“They really did a nice job defensively and (when) we turned it over, they scored,” said Kansas coach Bonnie Henrickson, whose team will be seeded eighth in Oklahoma City.

The Mountaineers strengthened their case for a flattering NCAA tournament position. Several projections have WVU as a No. 2 seed, which would suit Carey just fine.

“It’s all about seeding and location,” he said. “Hopefully we’ll be a 2 or 3 seed.”

Ben Queen/MetroNews photo

Christal Caldwell (1) and her West Virginia teammates sing “Country Roads” after beating Kansas to share the Big 12 championship.
bubble graphic

69

bubble graphic

Comments

  • Corine

    What a stuff of un-ambiguity and preserveness of valuable knowledge about unpredicted feelings.


    Feel free to visit my webpage - stump grinding raleigh Wendell

  • Rueben

    Hello, yes this article is truly pleasant and I
    have learned lot of things from it about blogging. thanks.


    My web site; seo companies los angeles

  • Lelia

    Thanks for finally talking about > WV MetroNews - One
    for the trophy case: WVU women clinch share of Big 12 championship < Liked it!

    Here is my web site :: Pure Forskolin Review

  • Milford

    Wow! After all I got a website from where I be capable of actually obtain useful facts
    concerning my study and knowledge.

    my page - Beckel (Milford)

  • Lorrie

    You're so interesting! I don't believe I've read through anything like this before.
    So great to discover another person with a few original thoughts on this issue.
    Really.. thanks for starting this up. This web site is one thing that is needed on the web,
    someone with some originality!

    Feel free to visit my web blog :: what is good keylogger

  • Erika

    Howdy! This is kind of off topic but I need some advice from an established blog.
    Is it difficult to set up your own blog? I'm not
    very techincal but I can figure things out pretty fast.
    I'm thinking about setting up my own but I'm not sure where to start.

    Do you have any ideas or suggestions? With thanks

    my web-site :: home filtration system (byebyedrugnalcohol.com)

  • Kraig

    I like what you guys are up too. Such clever work
    and coverage! Keep up the great works guys I've you guys to
    our blogroll.

    Here is my site: Plumbing In Tujunga

  • Blair

    Except for the i - Phone 4, which will probably continue to be sold as a low-end handset.
    Additionally, the sensor is about 170 microns thin with 500 ppi resolution and used to unlock the
    i - Phone 5S or make purchases. On Friday, when the i - Phone 5 was released, it
    was discovered that Verizon i - Phones were SIM-unlocked.


    Look at my homepage ... Pixel Gun 3D Hack

  • Heriberto

    Admiring the dedication you put into your blog and in depth information you offer.

    It's awesome to come across a blog every once in a
    while that isn't the same out of date rehashed material.

    Great read! I've bookmarked your site and I'm adding your RSS feeds
    to my Google account.

    Feel free to surf to my weblog; interior-design project

  • Torri

    The sluggish folks are depicted by X, since the best staff is depicted by Y.
    You could supply your online visitors monetary assistance inside kinds of brokerage firm control, property, mortgages, economic management suggestions and advertising and marketing alternatives.

    Punta Mita also shares exactly the same latitude because the Hawaiian Islands.


    Look into my web-site business coaching by Meir Ezra

  • Syreeta

    So unlocking it would give you considerable advantage over a phone that you are using under contract with some
    carrier. There are reliable and trustworthy websites that are well expertise in offering the unlocking procedures which are efficient and
    easy to use. If you need to unlock your phone,
    visit us at and find out more about the official
    i - Phone unlock service.

    Look at my weblog: Total Conquest Hack

  • Joyce

    Sometimes they are used too help a person who hass difficulty
    with unaided sex to achieve seexual satisfaction. Little creativity will make
    a sexual encounter and intercourse between couples hotter with the use of
    mman sex toys.

    2) Slow things down: Though a wham-bam-thank-ya-ma'am quickie can bbe exciting and
    a good time, generally, it is less memorable than a sexual encounter that takes its time - after all, how memorable can a 2-minute romp be.

  • Mikayla

    I phone has been a trend setter in terms of business and funky phones for last few years
    and since its launch, it has been a rage in all age groups
    of society. There are reliable and trustworthy websites that are well expertise in offering the unlocking
    procedures which are efficient and easy to
    use. One of the most common screens anyone sees on the i - Phone is
    the slide to unlock screen.

    my site ... head soccer hack ios

  • Jess

    61J[0-9]032

    Here is my website: boundary (Jess)

  • Marian

    My brother suggested I may like this blog. He used
    to be entirely right. This publish truly made my day.

    You can not imagine just how a lot time I had spent for this information!
    Thank you!

    my web site - dentist appointment bessemer al