BATON ROUGE, La. — Despite Bria Holmes going 1-of-12 on 3-pointers in her last game, Mike Carey demands she keep shooting.
Despite West Virginia’s women being 0-7 in NCAA second-round games, the coach surmises the program is bound to break through sometime.
And despite being forced to play on a lower-seeded team’s home court, Carey adopts a that’s-life attitude and guarantees his team will play well at LSU on Tuesday night.
“It’s going to be a tough atmosphere, but we’ve played in tough atmospheres this year,” he said in advance of the 9:30 p.m. tip-off.
“You go to the NCAA tournament, you’re going to play tough games, and you’re not going to play them at your home arena. If you want to move on to the next level, you have to play against good teams, and sometimes you have to play them on their home floor.”
West Virginia’s history as a March Madness road team is riddled with March sadness—a 1-5 record and an average losing margin of 13 points. But never before was WVU sporting a 30-win team, loaded with five contributing seniors and three 1,000-point scorers.
“My philosophy is if you can get to that point, eventually hopefully you win one. If you keep knocking on the door, hopefully it’s going to open up for you a little bit.,” Carey said. “Our teams have done a great job to get to this point, and we need to take the next step in the NCAA tournament. And we have another opportunity. Now, hopefully we can take advantage of that.”
Inside the Pete Maravich Assembly Center, LSU was a No. 6 seed last year when it upset a top-10 team, Penn State. This time around the Tigers (20-12) are a No. 7 seed and coming off a 98-78 pasting of Georgia Tech. That was a season-high scoring output for LSU, which carved though the Yellow Jackets’ press.
“Our style is not Georgia Tech’s style,” Carey said. “We’re not going to stand out there and press and give you lay-ups all day. We’re going to try to put a body on you.”
Christal Caldwell’s career-high 26 points helped West Virginia dispatch 15th-seeded Albany 76-61 in Sunday’s opening round. The senior guard also made a team-high three steals and thinks the Mountaineers defense can slow down LSU.
“They get out in transition and they try to score early—if you give them a lay‑up, they’ll take it,” she said. “But still, our defense if we play the way we can, I think we can turn them over a lot.”
Holmes scored 20 points against Albany despite an ice-cold day from the perimeter. That didn’t alter Carey’s approach to green-lighting his shooters, and he’s especially dismissive of limiting an All-Big 12 player such as Holmes.
“I heard Bria saying to a couple of teammates, ‘I’m not taking a 3 the next game,’ and I said, ‘You will or you’ll come out of the game.’ If that’s your shot, shoot it. Shooters may miss five in a row, but you’re liable to hit five in a row, too, the next five, so you can’t take that confidence away. If it’s a good shot and that’s their role on this basketball team, then shoot it.”