MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The West Virginia women had an up-close view of Baylor’s Brittney Griner last season, so the prospects of facing Albany’s big-and-tall center Megan Craig shouldn’t be intimidating.

Still, coach Mike Carey doesn’t want his players making allowances for Craig’s size in the middle.

“She’s not as mobile (as Griner), but needless to say, when we drive the paint, there’s going to be 6-8 standing there,” Carey said. “We’ve just got to be a little bit more aggressive and instead of settling for shooting over the 6-8 player try to drive around the 6-8 player.”

The scouting report on Craig? Well, Albany lists the New Zealand native at 6-foot-9, which could be a factor in a game of inches. Of course No. 2-seeded West Virginia (29-4) is hoping for a not-so-close game Sunday when it faces Albany (28-4) in their NCAA opener at Baton Rouge.

But the one-and-done climate of tournament time can render heavy favorites timid against nothing-to-lose mid-majors.

“There’s a lot of pressure,” Carey said. “When you’re making mistakes out there and you’re not hitting shots you, kind of get a little tight.”

This NCAA tournament brings more pressure then ever for the Mountaineers, who shared the Big 12 regular-season title, narrowly lost to co-champ Baylor in the conference tournament and netted the program’s highest seeding. They enter March Madness ranked No. 7 in the AP poll, having won 12 of their last 13.

As for Craig, her reach has led to a team-high 49 blocks and she averages 12.5 points. But the junior isn’t a dominant rebounder at only 5.9 per game.

“Their four and five, they look to lob to them a lot,” Carey said. “We’ve just got to push (Craig) off the block. If she can stand on the block, catch it and keep the ball above, she can score.”

Though Craig is Albany’s most noticeable player, the most productive is 6-1 forward Shereesha Richards, who compiles 20.3 points and nine rebounds per game.

“They’ve got good size,” Carey said. “They’re used to winning so we really can’t go in there and take them for granted. They’re not as deep as some of the teams we play against in the league, but they have some athletes and they have some people who can score.”

Albany Daily Gazette

Albany features 6-foot-9 New Zealand native Megan Craig, who will plug the middle when the 15th-seeded Danes face No. 2 seeded West Virginia on Sunday in the NCAA tournament.
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  • Aaron

    A win is a win is a win but man, that was a tough one. If nothing, by losing the 2nd half, Coach Carey has some ammunition of which to motivate his team. Too many turnovers and to many missed shots in the 2nd half made it for an interesting game.

    In the first half, America East champions, Albany (28-4) looked like a 15 seed but in the 2nd half they looked anything but.

    If WV plays that way against LSU, which owns a win of over #1 seed Tennessee, they won't make it to Louisville. Hopefully the 2nd half lag was due to the first half lead and perhaps some looking forward to LSU.

  • pghmountaineer

    Man, the Lady EERS are sure trying to make it interesting in the 2nd half. They've blown a 20 point lead.

  • pghmountaineer

    Watching the game. So far so good.
    The Lady EERS are having a good first half.

  • jay zoom

    these ladies will be going to at least the elite 8 and maybe the final four. GO LADY MOUNTAINEERS. keep Huggins out of the picture and you'll be fine and if OLLIE is in the area keep him out of the parking lot. wat to go CAREY you and your ladies made WV proud

  • Barry

    Anyone know what TV station the game is on?

    • Aaron

      Every woman's game in the tourney is on an ESPN network station.

  • Aaron

    Set the tempo, play the game inside out and stay with what got you this far and you'll be fine ladies. One game at a time all the way to Nashville.

    It's a great day to be a Mountaineer wherever you may be.

  • Billy

    Time to start a new win streak. I just need to pick up some snack food and I am ready.

  • Rick55

    Just keep doing what you do and don't do what you don't do and you cannot fail. Go Mountaineer Women Cagers!!!!!!