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Mountaineers head to Palm Beach Invitational trying to limit turnovers

Head coach Mike Carey’s West Virginia women’s basketball team is currently on a two-game winning streak and carry an overall mark of 6-2 into the West Palm Beach Invitational next week.

The team will travel to the sunshine state for a two-game slate around the holiday time on Monday against South Florida before taking on Michigan State on Tuesday. The team will then depart home in time for Christmas later in the week on Saturday. It’ll only be the pair of games in Florida and a game against Maryland Eastern Shore next Wednesday before the Mountaineers begin Big 12 action.

West Virginia’s two losses of the season came against BYU on November 27 in the St. Petersburg Showcase and to then-No. 16 Kentucky on Dec. 1 in the Big 12-SEC challenge, 83-60.

“It’s not like we’re terrible right now, we lost one game by one, Kentucky put it to us, we didn’t play well but we’ve got to get better. If we’re going to beat good teams like South Florida and Michigan State we can’t turn it over 20 sometimes, you just can’t overcome that with your defense and scoring so it’s going to depend on that and we’re going to have to take care of the basketball,” said West Virginia head coach Mike Carey.

That’s for a West Virginia team that turns the ball over on average 18.6 times per game.

“I think we’re shooting about 48 percent from the floor, cut those turnovers in half and shoot 48 percent that gives you a lot more points and it doesn’t give them fast break points,” Carey said. “So, if you cut those in half they’re not going to get as many fast break points and then we’ve still got to hit shots, but it gives us more opportunities.

The Mountaineers haven’t truly been dominated in many parts of their game through their non-conference portion of the season and the only category the team trails opponents in so far is three-point shooting. While Carey’s squad has made an average of 4.3 three-pointers per game, while West Virginia’s opponents are making a three-pointer 6.1 times per game.

Considering the only Mountaineer that sits in double digits with mostly three-pointers made this year is junior guard Kirsten “KK” Deans with 13 three-pointers. Deans leads the West Virginia scoring this season with 16.5 points per game while junior forward Esmery Martinez is the only other Mountaineer averaging double figures at 11.8 points per game.

“We have a lot of pieces and I keep telling the players talent doesn’t always win, talent doesn’t always win it’s the team that has chemistry, that plays well together, that executes and does little things like block outs, take care of the basketball, being able to change up defensively, know what you’re in, those are you’re really good teams,” Carey explained.

While Martinez leads the front court attack, there have also been a couple forwards in senior Kari Niblack and fifth year Ari Gray who have each posted seven points per game this season.

Perhaps it’s not what West Virginia has done on the offensive end of the court but on defense in forcing 24.8 turnovers per matchup and averaging 23.4 points per game off turnovers. That line also goes along with averaging 11.4 steals per game so far. That can be credited to an aggressive defensive attack with players jumping in front of balls and tracking in loose balls when given the opportunity.

West Virginia and South Florida will tip off on Monday, inside the Massimino Court at Keiser University, in the West Palm Beach Invitational at 1:15 p.m. ET.

Photo by Dale Sparks, All Pro Photography

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