The Sweet Sixteen Awaits

BATON ROUGE, La. – With his 30-4 Mountaineers playing 20-11 LSU tonight for a berth in the Sweet 16, one think West Virginia University coach Mike Carey would be smiling from “Eer to ‘Eer.

Think again.

Kerry was anything with pleased with WVU’s 76-61 opening-round win over Albany. Another performance like that, he says, and the Mountaineers season will be over.

“Nothing against Albany, but if we play like that, LSU will beat us,” Carey said. “Let’s just face it. We’re going to have to play for 40 minutes. It’s going to have to be a 40-minute game and play hard for 40 minutes and concentrate and attack for 40 minutes and play defense for 40 minutes. It’s going to be a tough game.”

The Mountaineers set a school record against Albany, recording the first 30-win season in the history of the program.

WVU built a 22-point lead only to have the Great Danes (28-5) cut that deficit to 56-51 with 6:58 remaining. The Mountaineers outscored the Albany, 20-10, down the stretch.

“I thought in the first half we moved the ball extremely well, attacked, swung the ball, found the open man and hit shots,” Carey said. “In the second half, we kind of just stood around. We didn’t attack anymore, and they started attacking us, and we put them at the foul line.”

Senior guard Christal Caldwell had a game-leading and career-best, 26 points, while sophomore guard Bria Holmes added 20 points and a pair of assists. It was Holmes’ third straight outing with at least 20 points.

Junior forward Averee Fields chipped in 10 points, seven rebounds and a pair of steals. Senior center Asya Bussie led all players in rebounding with 12 boards, and blocked three shots, but was limited to only three points in 28 minutes.

WVU will take on an LSU team that posted a school postseason scoring mark in a 98-78 victory over No. 10 Georgia Tech on Saturday.

The Tigers (20-11) were paced by the play of guard Danielle Ballard with 24 points and 17 rebounds. Forward Theresa Plaisance also posted a double-double (21 points, 11 rebounds) while DaShawn Harden finished with 17 points – nine coming on 3-of-3 from behind the three-point line.

LSU finished with five players in double figures as Shanece McKinney had 14 points and Jeanne Kenney tallied 11.

The Tigers may be without the services of Raigyne Moncrief as the guard left the game with an apparent knee injury with 15 minutes remaining in their game against Georgia Tech.

Plaisance leads LSU in scoring (15.8 ppg) and rebounding (7.6 rpg). Kenney and Moncrief join Plaisance in double digits with averages of 11.6 and 10.1 points per game, respectively. Ballard (9.8) and McKinney (7.5) round out the expected starting five.

If Moncrief is unable to play, look for Harden (7.0) to fill her spot.

WVU will counter with Holmes (15.3 ppg), Bussie (12.7), Caldwell (12.6), Fields (7.6) and Linda Stepney (5.1). If Carey goes to his bench, look for Palmer (9.9), Brooke Hampton (3.4) and Jess Harlee (3.0) to be the first to play.

The Mountaineers have advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament for the eighth time in program history, and the sixth time under coach Carey. Tonight’s game will be the fifth overall meeting between the two schools, all won by LSU, but only the second in postseason play. Their previous NCAA Tournament game took place in 2007 as LSU beat WVU, 49-43, en route to qualifying for the Final Four.

WVU is facing an NCAA tournament opponent on its home court for the seventh time in program history. The 1989 and 92 squads took on Virginia in Charlottesville (Va.), while the 2004 team met Ohio State in Columbus (Ohio). Others include the 2008 team facing New Mexico in Albuquerque, the 2008 squad taking on Baylor in Waco and last year’s unit facing Delaware in Newark.