Big East

Recapping a Memorable 2015-16 Season

June 1, 2016

Many expected the West Virginia University women’s basketball team to have a rebuilding year for the 2015-16 campaign after losing three valuable seniors and bringing in 11 newcomers.

However, coach Mike Carey’s squad once again exceeded a preseason pick of sixth place in the league and finished third in the Big 12 with the team’s 11th NCAA Tournament appearance. The Mountaineers capped the year at 25-10 overall and 12-6 in the Big 12 Conference for a third-place finish. West Virginia made its ninth NCAA Tournament Second Round appearance with eight of those coming under Carey’s watch.

Below are a few nuggets from the 2015-16 season.

Carey Sets Multiple Milestones
The 2015-16 season was a year of milestones for Carey, who entered his 15th season at the helm of the program. On November 24 in Spokane, Washington, the Mountaineers picked up a 68-50 win over Grand Canyon to mark Carey’s 300th career victory. Just two games later on December 2 in Morgantown, West Virginia dominated Morehead State, 94-56, for Carey’s 302nd victory. The win helped Carey surpass legendary coach Kittie Blakemore as WVU women’s basketball’s all-time wins leader. And finally on January 16, Carey registered his 600th career win as the Mountaineers toppled Kansas 72-35 in Morgantown. Carey had put together 288 wins in 13 seasons as the men’s coach at Salem International and has now amassed 322 victories at West Virginia in 15 seasons.

Nonconference Success
The Mountaineers completed the nonconference portion of the season with an 11-2 mark, including a nine-game win streak from November 24 to December 28. During that stretch, WVU netted its 11th consecutive Chesapeake Energy Capital Classic title over in-state foe Marshall, 66-60. Additionally, WVU shared the Florida Sunshine Classic tournament title in Winter Park, Florida, with Big 12 member Baylor after picking up wins over eventual NCAA Tournament participants Indiana and James Madison. With a win over Elon on Dec. 28, West Virginia recorded its 24th consecutive victory over a non-conference opponent at the WVU Coliseum.

Big 12 Surprise
After being picked to finish sixth in the Big 12 coaches’ preseason poll, the Mountaineers soared to a 12-6 mark in league play and a third-place finish. The Mountaineers’ only losses in league play were to ranked teams (Texas, Baylor, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State). West Virginia nearly knocked off No. 6/7 Baylor in a heartbreaking 69-64 loss on Jan. 12. WVU closed out the regular season with wins in four of its last five games. The Mountaineers toppled No. 20/21 Oklahoma, 63-55, on Feb. 17 and then trounced No. 22 Oklahoma State, 84-48, on Senior Day on Feb. 27. Immediately following the win over the Cowgirls, senior Bria Holmes was proposed to and accepted an engagement with her longtime boyfriend Otterious Diggins. Holmes was named a unanimous All-Big 12 First Team honoree for a third consecutive year. Holmes ranked second in the Big 12 regular-season with 16.9 points per game and finished her illustrious career third all-time on WVU’s scoring ledger with 2,001 points. Center Lanay Montgomery garnered Big 12 All-Defensive Team accolades and was named to the All-Big 12 Second Team. Montgomery averaged 8.8 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per game in the regular-season. Arielle Roberson was named All-Big 12 Honorable mention after tallying 9.6 rebounds and 3.7 offensive rebounds per contest in league-only games. Rookie Tynice Martin was named the Big 12 Freshman of the Year and was tabbed to the All-Big 12 Freshman team. The Atlanta native was third in team scoring with 9.8 points per contest.
WVU Makes 11th NCAA Tournament
West Virginia made its 11th NCAA Championship appearance and the ninth under Mike Carey. The Mountaineers reached the postseason for a 10th consecutive year and returned to the big dance after a year hiatus. As a No. 6 seed, West Virginia rolled to a 74-65 win over No. 11-seed Princeton in the NCAA First Round in Columbus, Ohio. Holmes scored a game-high 26 points, while Martin added 16 in the victory. West Virginia dropped a heartbreaking 88-81 contest to No. 3-seed Ohio State in the second round on March 20. Four Mountaineers tallied double figures as Holmes scored 21 points and Martin followed with 16. Teana Muldrow contributed with 15 points and nine rebounds and senior Jessica Morton capped her career with 12 points in the game. Ohio State’s Kelsey Mitchell tallied 45 of OSU’s 88 points in the win.

Holmes Drafted by the Atlanta Dream
Holmes became the highest Mountaineer selected in the WNBA Draft with her 11th overall pick in in the first round in April 2016. The New Haven, Connecticut, native is also the highest draft pick selection for a Connecticut native player. Holmes finished her illustrious career at WVU with 2,001 points – the third most in program history. She became the first player at West Virginia to score 500 or more points in three consecutive seasons and ranks in WVU’s top-10 in 14 different statistical categories. She earned Senior CLASS Award Second-Team All-American honors, while picking up All-America Honorable Mention by the Associated Press and the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association. Holmes was a three-time unanimous All-Big 12 First Team selection. The 6-foot-1 guard led West Virginia with 16.8 points and 3.7 assists per game and tallied 589 points with 145 rebounds in 35 contests. With her 21 points against Ohio State on March 20, Holmes became the third Mountaineer in program history to reach the 2,000-point plateau.

Year Notables
– WVU recorded the program’s fifth overall 25-win campaign and the fourth under Carey.
– Finished 13-2 at home and owns a 182-46 (.798) record at home under Carey.
– WVU is 96-7 (93.2) against non-conference opponents since 2002.
– West Virginia has recorded 20 or more wins in nine of the last 11 seasons.
– WVU has won 80 percent or higher of its home games seven of the last eight years.
– Four crowds of 4,000+ watched WVU at the Coliseum this season: 5,080 vs. Oklahoma State (12th), 4,328 vs. Kansas State (17th), 4,168 vs. Baylor (18th) and 4,153 vs. Texas (21st).
– West Virginia finished No. 23 in the Associated Press Top 25 poll and No. 25 in the USA TODAY Sports Coaches Top 25 Poll. The Mountaineers have finished ranked in both polls for the fifth time in program history (2016, 2014, 2010, 2008 and 1992).
– West Virginia won an NCAA Statistical Award after leading the nation with 6.5 blocked shots per game.

Read Full Article