Mountaineers Open NCAA Journey vs. Elon

  • By Russell Luna
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  • March 16, 2017 03:43 PM
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COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The sixth-seeded West Virginia University women’s basketball team makes its 12th NCAA Championship appearance against 11th-seeded Elon on Friday, March 17, in a 2:30 p.m. ET contest at the XFINITY Center in College Park, Maryland.
Friday’s contest will air on ESPN2 in its entirety in the Pittsburgh region, West Virginia and North Carolina. Whip-around coverage of other NCAA Tournament games will be showcased in other areas. Fans not in the three dedicated regions can watch the entire game online at WatchESPN.com or by using the WatchESPN app.
Dan Zangrilli and Meg Bulger will have the call on the Mountaineer Sports Network from IMG. Fans can listen to various affiliates across the state (click here for full list), WVUsports.com, the WVU Gameday app and TuneIn.
The winner of the WVU-Elon First Round contest will face the winner of No. 3-seed Maryland/No. 14-seed Bucknell on Sunday, March 19.
No. 22/21-ranked West Virginia (23-10) claimed its first Big 12 Tournament title after picking up wins over No. 19 Oklahoma (82-58), No. 12/14 Texas (62-59) and No. 2 Baylor (77-66). The Mountaineers won their second conference tournament title overall, joining the 1989 Atlantic 10 Tournament Champions. Tynice Martin was tabbed the Big 12 Championship’s Most Outstanding Player after scoring 82 points in three days and setting a championship game record with 32 points in the win over Baylor. Teana Muldrow also grabbed Big 12 Championship All-Tournament Team honors, averaging 14.6 points and 8.3 rebounds in three games.
“I think it did a lot for recruiting, attitudes, confidence and hopefully it’ll carry over into next year. I think that tournament run really helped our program,” coach Mike Carey noted.
Martin, an All-America candidate, paces the Big 12 Conference with 18.6 points per game. Other league leaders include Montgomery’s 68.0 field goal percentage (149-of-219) and Chania Ray’s 6.0 assists per game. Montgomery paces the Mountaineers with 8.9 rebounds per game, while averaging 10.7 points per game. Muldrow continues to rank second on the team by averaging 14.7 points and 8.5 rebounds per game.
WVU makes its school-record 11th consecutive postseason appearance and the 10th NCAA Tournament appearance under coach Carey. The Mountaineers are seeking to advance to the NCAA Second Round for the 10th time in 12 appearances. In 2016, WVU earned a six-seed and knocked off No. 11-seed Princeton, 74-65, to advance to the NCAA Second Round in Columbus, Ohio. The Mountaineers fell, 88-81, to No. 3-seed Ohio State in the next round.
The Mountaineers and Phoenix (27-6) meet for the fifth time on Friday, as WVU has won the previous four matchups. Most recently, West Virginia claimed a 67-57 win over Elon on Dec. 28, 2015. Lanay Montgomery scored 21 points and grabbed nine rebounds in the victory.
Elon has won 23 of its last 25 games, including knocking off James Madison, 78-60, for the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) Tournament title. EU is 15th nationally in field goal percentage defense (35.3%) and is 26th in the NCAA with a 42.1 rebounding average.
All-CAA First Team performer Shay Burnett leads the Phoenix with 12.1 points, 7.3 rebounds, 4.6 and 1.6 steals per game. Other double-figure scorers include Lauren Brown with 12.0 points per game and Jenifer Rhodes with 11.0 points per contest.
“I have been tough in practice since the tournament. We can’t relax,” Carey said. “Elon only lost a few games the whole year. They lost to Duke by six. They are a very good basketball team and have some great players, especially their guards and center. We cannot take them lightly or we’ll be in trouble.”
With the Mountaineers making an appearance in the DC metro area, there are several connections. Ray, a native of Alexandria, Virginia, played at nearby Riverdale Baptist in Upper Marlboro, Maryland. Montgomery, originally from Pittsburgh, played high school basketball at the Academy of the Holy Cross in Kensington. Assistant coach Diane Richardson previously served as an assistant at George Washington (2012-16), Maryland (2008) and American (2007). The Southeast Washington, D.C., native also was the head coach at Riverdale Baptist from 2001-06 and 2009-12. 

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