The West Virginia women's basketball team is coming off a great win against TCU. Now they will have their work cut out for them as they travel to Baylor to take on the 1st ranked Bears. So far this year the Mountaineers have struggled against ranked teams going 0-2 overall.
While the Mountaineers will have to elevate their game play, it is up to top scorer Christal Caldwell to rally them and knock down shots when called upon. Caldwell leads West Virginia in scoring with 12.9 points per game, and they will need her to score much more than that if the Mountaineers want to keep this game close. West Virginia also needs Taylor Palmer to contribute heavily. Palmer is second in scoring averaging 11.9 PPG, and she also leads the team in steals with 22. She is very effective from three point range, shooting about 35% and Palmer has got to hit these shots in order to keep Baylor off balance. By knocking down threes and stealing the ball Palmer, can take her A game to a new level.
Many basketball fans know that to win games it is crucial to outrebound the other team. If the Mountaineers want to do that then Ayana Dunning will have to be ready to box out and snag some offensive and defensive rebounds. Dunning has corralled 106 rebounds this year including 33 offensive rebounds. She is also third in scoring with 10.9 PPG, with her expertise at rebounding and shooting gives the Mountaineers another weapon to use.
One area of concern for West Virginia is their free throw shooting. As a team they are shooting 66% from the foul line while their opponents are shooting 73%. This is such a critical part of the game, since many times it is won or lost at the foul line. If the Mountaineers take their time and put up good shoots, this number goes right up.
Smart defense will make or break the game for WVU. The Mountaineers do an excellent job of stealing the ball, with the season total at 171. With Palmer and Averee Fields leading the way, the Mountaineers need to poke as many balls away as possible. West Virginia has forced 333 turnovers this season and they will need many more to keep this game interesting.
Blocks will be another big factor in this game, and Dunning will have to do this when the ball comes down to her side of the court. She leads the team with 16 of their total 54 blocks on the season. If the Mountaineers can play smart physical defense then they should be able to contain some of the Bears’ players. However, Baylor has one of the best inside players in all of women’s basketball and it will be up to the defense to limit her as much as possible.
This player of course is Brittney Griner. Standing at 6’8 she towers all other players which has allowed her to average 21.6 PPG, as well as grab a total of 122 rebounds and block 43 shots this season so far. Stopping her will be no easy task and the Mountaineers will have to do whatever it takes to slow her down. Their best bet is to double team her with Asya Bussie and Dunning since they are the two tallest on West Virginia players and they might be able to give her a harder time than other teams.
Winning this game will be no easy task and the Mountaineers have to be fully prepared for a battle since they are dealing with the number one ranked team in women's college basketball. The biggest challenge for them will be slowing down Griner, but if they can somehow limit her then they might be able to come away with a win. Tipoff for this game will be at 8 PM this Saturday.
Prediction: WVU-65 Baylor-89
WVU Player of the Game: Ayana Dunning 15 points 9 rebounds 4 blocksBack to the West Virginia Mountaineers Newsfeed