WVU Women face Oklahoma in Norman

While the West Virginia men’s basketball team attempts to get out of their rut against Kansas State, the Mountaineer women will also be trying to keep their Big 12 season on track over 1,000 miles away in Norman, Oklahoma.


Mike Carey’s Mountaineers (17-5, 5-5 Big 12) have looked relatively solid in recent weeks, snatching a pair of convincing wins over conference bottom-feeders Iowa State and Texas Tech before giving powerhouse Baylor all it could handle last Sunday in a loss that dropped them back to .500 in the Big 12.


Against the No. 3 Lady Bears, the shorthanded Mountaineers led throughout much of the game, before running out of steam in the fourth quarter. And on Saturday, on the road against the Oklahoma Sooners (11-11, 6-5 Big 12), the onus will once again be on West Virginia to keep up.


“They play four guards, and all four guards can shoot the three, plus take you off the dribble,” Carey said. “They have a senior post inside (center Vionise Pierre-Louis) who’s playing well, so overall they have a lot of people who can score and they have a go-to person in the paint.”


The centerpiece of Oklahoma’s attack is 6-foot-4 senior center Vionise Pierre-Louis, who leads the team in scoring (15.1 points per game) and rebounding (8.7 rebounds per game), and head coach Sherri Coale surrounds her with dangerous scoring talent.


West Virginia knows quite well what Pierre-Louis can do to their frontcourt – in the Sooners’ double-overtime win last time these two teams met in Norman, she scored 33 points and pulled down 13 rebounds – but Oklahoma has four guards around her that average over 12 points per game, and any one of them could give them a hard time.


“We have to contest their threes, but we have to stop them from getting in the middle of our paint off the dribble,” Carey said. “They like to attack, you help, they kick for a wide-open 3. They shoot the ball extremely well at home, so we’re going to have to play very well.”


Last time out, Baylor used that strategy to deadly effect in the WVU Coliseum. Although star center Kalani Brown attracted the defense’s attention, it was the Lady Bears’ guards who made the crucial difference: Kristy Wallace scored a team-high 25 points, while Dekeiya Cohen and Natalie Chou each added 13 as Baylor pulled away in the fourth quarter.


With only eight healthy and active players once again, the Mountaineers will have to rely on the scoring duo of Naomi Davenport and Teana Muldrow to see them through on Saturday. Davenport led all scorers against Baylor with 27 points, while Muldrow – who was named to the top 10 for the Cheryl Miller Award for the top small forward in women’s basketball on Wednesday – added 21 of her own.


Tip-off between West Virginia and Oklahoma is set for 3 p.m. from the Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Oklahoma, and the game will be broadcast live on Fox Sports Oklahoma.

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