MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The net-snipping euphoria that surrounded the West Virginia women’s Big 12 regular-season title? It faded before the team’s charter flight left for Oklahoma City.
As this weekend’s Big 12 tournament begins a so-called new season for lower-seeded teams, it also signals time for the favorites to reset. The Mountaineers, after relishing for 72 hours their shared championship with Baylor, have moved on.
“It’s behind us,” said West Virginia’s all-league guard Bria Holmes. “We have a lot more to accomplish this year.”
While the league’s bottom four seeds tipped off Friday’s action, West Virginia (27-3) awaited Saturday night’s quarterfinal matchup against the survivor of TCU (17-13) and Texas Tech (6-23). The No. 7-ranked Mountaineers, winners of 10 straight overall, swept Texas Tech by an average of 25 points this season but struggled to a pair of four-point wins over the Horned Frogs.
“It’s a new season, and everyone’s coming in with a chip,” said senior Christal Caldwell.
With a strong showing in OKC, the West Virginia women should be in line for an NCAA tournament No. 2 seed. And while fans are glimpsing ahead to a possible Monday night title showdown against Baylor, Holmes warned that the Big 12 field is too dangerous to presume anything.
“We have a target on our back now, so everybody’s after us,” she said.
In 32 years of conference affiliation, West Virginia’s only league tournament title came in 1989 when it won the Atlantic 10. The current squad, with its deep rotation and defensive pressure seemingly built for winning three games in three games, wants to end that drought.
Said center Asya Bussie, another All-Big 12 player: “Our goal is to win this tournament and cut down these nets too.”