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Carey- WVU 'can't be in awe of UConn'

by Greg Talkington

SPORTS WRITER

MORGANTOWN -- West Virginia's young and inconsistent women's basketball team will go up against one of, if not the most consistent team in all of college basketball tonight at the Hartford Civic Center.

There, the Mountaineers (15-11, 4-11 Big East) will face No. 1 Connecticut (28-0, 15-0), winners of 67 consecutive games.

Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. and the game can be heard locally on WAJR, 103.3 F.M.

According to WVU coach Mike Carey, the Mountaineers can't play scared.

"I told every girl on the team if they weren't going up there to compete, not to get on the bus," Carey said. "We can't be in awe of them.

"We just have to play our game the best we can and see what happens."

The Mountaineers put up a spirited fight with the Huskies last season at the Coliseum, hanging close for move than a half before succumbing by an 89-61 count.

Connecticut finished the season unbeaten and won the national title behind the play of four seniors, all drafted in the first round by the WNBA.

The lone returnee, All-American junior guard Diana Taurasi, has been the leader of the young team, which starts three juniors, a sophomore and a freshman.

Carey believes UConn has used a somewhat differing style of play to achieve the same results.

"Last year, their post players were true post players," Carey said. "This year, their post players are good on the blocks, but can also step out on the perimeter and hit shots.

"Not only that, they're great passers, so now they're running a lot of backdoor cuts out of their offense."

Mountaineer guards Yolanda Paige and Kate Bulger say last season's game gives them confidence they can stay in the game with the Huskies.

"I gained a lot of confidence against them last year," Paige, who leads the league in assists (7.0), said. "If I wouldn't have played well, I probably wouldn't have confidence going up there."

Bulger, who leads the team in scoring (15.4), remembered the game.

"We played well and really stuck with them in the first half," Bulger, who was named the Big East co-player of the week, said. "But I think we got worn down in the second half and had nothing left to give.

"We just have to play with that same kind of intensity up there and compete to the best of our abilities."

Backup freshman guard Ashley Dunn doesn't think the Mountaineers will be intimidated.

"I never had favorites growing up, but everybody watched UConn and knows about their program," Dunn said. "I think it will be a great experience for us to play against them.

"We have nothing to lose. We just have to be optimistic and compete to our best ability. On a given day, anything is possible."

Sports writer Greg Talkington can be reached at 626-1444 or by e-mail at gtalkington@exponent-telegram.com