Sports, Women's Basketball, WVU Sports

Lauren Fields feels like she’s ready to break out of a slump, giving WVU a third option on offense

MORGANTOWN — The goal has never changed and can easily be seen on the dry-erase board inside the WVU women’s basketball locker room before each game.

“I’ll bet we’ve been pretty good whenever we get four players scoring in double figures,” WVU head coach Mark Kellogg said, as he prepared the Mountaineers for Saturday’s first-round NCAA tournament game against Princeton. “That’s been one of our goals all year.”

After looking it up, the Mountaineers (24-7) are 15-1 this season when four or more players reach that accomplishment. Their average margin of victory in those games is 24.8 points.

The issue is it hasn’t happened much lately — just three times over the last nine games.


That’s where WVU guard Lauren Fields comes into play. The fifth-year senior transfer from Arizona knows the feel of playing and advancing in the NCAA tournament.

She also knows that she’s got to step up her game right now.

“Definitely, because it makes things easier for J.J. (Quinerly) and Jordan (Harrison),” said Fields, who is averaging 9.6 points per game this season. “This week of practice has helped me a lot. I think I’ve got going. I’m looking forward to giving them some help.”

The Mountaineers are 5-5 over their last 10 games. Quinerly has been in double figures in all of them, averaging 20 points. Harrison is averaging 13.8 over that same time.

Fields has been slumping and hasn’t scored in double figures since a Feb. 6 victory against Texas Tech.

WVU forward Kyah Watson has been in double figures just once over the last six games, including going scoreless against Baylor on Feb. 24.

“I just have to keep working,” Fields said. “The coaches keep encouraging me. They tell me in practice that shooters shoot so much that sometimes you’re going to slump. I just have to shoot my way out of it.”

The twist in all of it is the Mountaineers will likely find themselves in a defensive street fight against Princeton (25-4).

Both teams are known for not giving up a lot of points. Princeton has played its last five games without allowing more than 58 points and the Tigers are No. 17 in the country, allowing an average of just 56 per game.

WVU isn’t far behind, allowing just 57.8 per game.

“They are a quality team, and it’s been five years in a row for them in the tournament,” Kellogg said of the Tigers. “They beat North Carolina State a year ago. They beat Kentucky the year before that. They are tough and physical, and they rebound the ball really well.

“Defensively, they’re only giving up 52 a game over their last five. This team can guard and there’s some versatility to what they do.”

Points could be at a premium, so getting Fields and Watson going again will be a major key for the Mountaineers.

“It’s really about getting the ball moving and getting other people involved, especially early in the game,” Kellogg said. “You have to build some confidence. It’s on us to do that. We have to get Lauren going again. Jayla (Hemingway) has been good off the bench.

“We know we have the ability to do it. We just have to kind of get back to who we are.”

TWEET @DomPostSports