Sports, Women's Basketball, WVU Sports

Mountaineers embracing time off ahead of Big 12 rematches

MORGANTOWN — The WVU women’s basketball team made it out of their toughest week of the season with a 2-1 record and get some much-needed time off as they begin preparations for conference rematches.

The Mountaineers (13-5, 4-3 Big 12) played three games in six days last week, picking up home wins over No. 18 Baylor and Texas Tech and losing at Kansas.

“The three games in a week is physically very challenging so this week we have some time to get back in the mold from a class standpoint, but also physically get our bodies recovered at a higher level,” WVU coach Dawn Plitzuweit said Tuesday morning. “It’s challenging from the standpoint of having to know three different opponents. While we’re doing that, I think our players did a pretty good job of recognizing and making adjustments.”

The Mountaineers don’t play again until they travel for a rematch against TCU in Fort Worth on Saturday, giving the team all week to rest, recover and practice.

“This week allows us a chance to work on some of the things we haven’t had time to focus on,” Plitzuweit said. “How we move the ball, how do we screen and how do we read screens, some of those types of things we’ll have a few days to work on.”

Plitzuweit thinks the wear started to show in her team when they played Texas Tech on Saturday as WVU only shot 21.1% in the first quarter.

“Three games in a week is always a challenge and certainly in game three you probably saw us weather the storm of not making shots early,” she said. “But, we defended pretty well, and then found a way down the stretch. I thought we played really, really well in the fourth quarter, made some shots in that quarter, and were able to come out on top.”

Despite the early shooting woes, WVU led 25-19 at halftime and shot 53.9% during a 31-point fourth quarter that put the game away.

Saturday’s 67-57 triumph was WVU’s fourth win in its last five games. Even with the team playing as well as it has recently, Plitzuweit said the time off to rest is more important than trying to keep their momentum going.

“I think we need a break at this point in time; it’s important for us,” she said. “We have been playing pretty well in a lot of stretches, but we had a day off Sunday and then in Monday’s practice I thought there was a lot of energy and a lot of zip to it, too.”

WVU has one more three-game week on its schedule, another Sunday/Wednesday/Saturday turnaround against Texas, Texas Tech and Kansas State in mid-February. The Mountaineers won’t get any extra time off following that stretch, however, with a game against Oklahoma State set for the following Wednesday. That makes this week’s off days even more important to take advantage of.

“I think it’s a good time to make sure we stay focused and make sure we don’t lose our heads or anything,” said senior Jayla Hemingway, who led the Mountaineers with an 18-point, 10-rebound double-double on Saturday. “We had three games last week and a bit of a shorter but we’ve still got to make sure that we are focused on improving every day.”

This Saturday’s trip to Fort Worth to play TCU will be WVU’s first Big 12 rematch of the season. The Mountaineers were victorious, 77-45, against the Horned Frogs in the Coliseum two weeks ago, but the yearly rematches against Big 12 foes are rarely easy.

“We have an opportunity to go back and watch us on film against TCU and see where we have to improve and what we have to get better at,” Plitzuweit said. “We haven’t had a chance to do that yet this season so that’ll be something different for us.”

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