No. 7 Mountaineers Set for Emotional Senior Night - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

No. 7 Mountaineers Set for Emotional Senior Night

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It is difficult to predict whether the emotions tonight at the WVU Coliseum will be higher before or after the game.

Senior Night brings with it perhaps the most bittersweet feeling in collegiate sports as a celebration is simultaneously indicative of the impending end of what for many athletes is considered the best time of their lives.

There isn't just a happy ending on the line, though. With a win over Kansas (12-17, 5-12), No. 7 West Virginia (26-3, 15-2) can clinch at least a share of the Big 12 regular season conference championship. It would be the first time the Mountaineers have won a conference title since 1989 in the Atlantic 10.

"This game is just as important as the one against Baylor and we have to be focused like we were against Baylor," said senior center Asya Bussie. "If we win [Tuesday], we'll be Big 12 champs."

Before the game, they will roll out the carpet and bring on the five seniors who have shed blood and sweat on that court. They will surely shed tears.

"I'm expecting a lot of tears and fans being really proud of us," said Bussie. "We really appreciate the university and the state for supporting us all throughout our careers."

This team deserves a packed house for what it has accomplished. Head coach Mike Carey admits that he can at times be accused of "whining" about playing in front of a small crowd, but he took to Twitter to implore fans to show up and say goodbye to a senior class that has meant so much to the university and the success its women's basketball team has enjoyed.

"I think it will be emotional because this is a great group," said Carey. "These players love West Virginia University, love playing here and they love their school. They have a lot of pride for West Virginia University and this is a special group."

One of the attributes that has made WVU so successful in the span that these seniors have been a part of the program is their closeness away from basketball. There is nothing phony about it. The players – from freshmen to seniors – are great friends off of the court and spend the majority of their free time together.

"We just clicked. I've never really been so close to a group of girls like this," said senior guard Taylor Palmer. "We all came together and we all had the same goal in mind, so it worked."

Facing the inevitability that their time as teammates is nearing its end has been hard on all five of the seniors, yes, but also on Coach Carey and the rest of the Mountaineers who will stay behind.

"It's hitting me in increments, especially after the Baylor game," said senior guard Brooke Hampton. "Just reflecting on all of these four years and all that we've been through, it's so emotional and humbling and I know we're probably going to cry a little bit. We're trying not to, but it's natural to happen because we care so much and this season, we just don't want it to end at all because it's going so well for us."

Hampton can take heart in the fact that despite this being Senior Night, there are games remaining following Tuesday's result. There will be the Big 12 tournament in Oklahoma City and then the ultimate goal of chasing an NCAA championship.

This game against Kansas will determine whether or not the Mountaineers accomplish their most immediate goal of a regular season conference crown. A win at Baylor gives them great confidence, but now they take on a Kansas team that has also beaten the Bears and they must guard against overconfidence in order to finish the task at hand.

"We have to be confident and we have to be mature," said senior guard Christal Caldwell. "Every team just gets better as the year goes on and that's what they have done. We can't look past anyone. We're going to go out tomorrow and try to beat a good team and do what we know how to do and play 40 minutes."

Before those 40 minutes begin, these five seniors should take their moment in the spotlight and have the opportunity to reflect on what has transpired in all of the years and all of the games that led to this point.

"I think it's just going to be exciting," said senior forward Jess Harlee. "It's going to be bittersweet because it's our last time rolling out the carpet and running out there, but I think it's exciting and it's going to be a lot of fun."

Senior Night is a celebration. The Mountaineers are hoping the final score will give them even more reasons to celebrate tonight. 

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