WVU Women Move To 8-0 With Win Over Pitt
MORGANTOWN, W. Va. — As rivalries go, this renewal of West Virginia and Pitt’s women’s “Backyard Basketbrawl” was more like a backyard barbecue among friends.
That West Virginia won, racing out to a 12-0 lead and never looking back on its way to a 73-52 victory, its eighth in a row in a still unbeaten season, hardly mattered.
See, the 2,005 fans on hand seemed to have more zest than did the WVU players and that bothered coach Mike Carey.
“We played like we were very tired,” Carey said to the media, moments after he delivered the same message to his team. “I don’t know why. We had more life when we played at Texas A&M.”
Rivalry games aren’t supposed to be like that, but soon it was revealed that this was only a rivalry game to the fans and the coaching staff.
“I didn’t know it was called the Backyard Brawl until two days ago,” WVU point guard Chania Ray admitted.
See this is a new universe at this university. None of these girls had ever played Pitt. Pitt is in the ACC, the Mountaineers are in the Big 12. They may be only an hour apart, but each lives in its own world.
“We tried to talk to them about the rivalry, but you know them players, they start staring right through you, like what the heck is he talking about so I just shut up. You might as well get an empty room and talk to them,” Carey said.
Not understanding the rivalry may have had something to do with the sluggish play that produced 16 turnovers, but there is something else hanging over the team. Coming into this game, the WVU starters had played 82 percent percent of the team’s minutes and scored 89 percent of the points, even though most of the games were blowouts.
In this one, the starters played 184 minutes while the bench contributed just 16, scoring only two points and taking only two shots.
Carey understands this isn’t ideal, but notes that Teresa Ekhlar, a mid-season transfer from Ohio State last year, becomes eligible soon and her first game will be on Dec. 16 against Radford.
“That gives us one more body,” Carey explained.
And later star guard Tynice Martin, one of the nation’s better scorers, comes back from her broken foot.
But there has been a strain on the players. Carey says he believes you can play 40 minutes if you are conditioned to do so and says he doesn’t practice them quite as hard as he would, but it’s a grind.
“It’s hard, mentally and physically,” said WVU’s Teana Muldrow, who scored 20 points and had 10 rebounds. “But I know it’s something I have to do for my team. I feel they need me. But it takes a toll.”
The result of it all was that the passes were lazy, the defense not sharp, the air going out of everything after a 26-13 lead at the end of the first quarter.
As it was, WVU had four players finish in double figures with Katrina Pardee hitting a career high five 3-pointers for 15 points, Kristina King adding 14 and Naomi Davenport 13. Ray had nine points, eight assists and four steals, but turned the ball over five times.