MORGANTOWN - The young West Virginia women's basketball team has completed its regular season with 20 or more wins the seventh time in nine years.
"I think it's great," Coach Mike Carey said after Monday night's 60-42 victory over old rival Pitt at the Coliseum. That capped a season's sweep of the series.
As a result, the Mountaineers are 21-8 overall and 11-5 in the Big East. After a day off, they'll begin preparations Wednesday for the conference tournament.
West Virginia has earned a first-round bye and won't play until Saturday.
"I'm very proud of our girls," said Carey, who's in his 11th year here. "This team started the season believing in defense and each player knows her role and what she needed to do.
"And I think Jessica Harlee, Asya Bussie and Ayana Dunning took over leadership roles and everybody else settled in where they were supposed to be."
Natalie Burton, 6-foot-5 center, is the only senior on this year's squad. "She's a great young lady and will do well when she leaves us," Carey said. "We will miss her.
"If someone told me before the season started that we'd be 21-8 and 11-5 in the Big East now, I'd say they were crazy.
"Like every coach, I think that maybe we won four or five games that we shouldn't have."
Making this team's achievements all the more impressive is the fact that it upset four nationally ranked teams, including No. 2 Notre Dame 65-63 at South Bend, Ind.
The other ranked victims were No. 25 UCLA 65-54, No. 14 Louisville 65-50, and No. 21 Rutgers 60-50.
Those four bring to 20 the number of wins against ranked teams under Carey's guidance. He owns more than 500 wins as a college head coach.
"Give my players a lot of credit," Carey stated. "Again, I'm very proud of them.
"I told them we did what we had to do in the second half against Pitt (after an 18-all tie in the first half). We can't play that way in the tournaments.
"We know that."
Carey continued, "I just want to say that this time last year we were worried about making it to the NCAA Tournament. This year at this time I feel very comfortable that we are in."
"For losing so many seniors and 80-some percent of our offense last year, you've gotta give these players a lot of credit."