WVU women’s hoops set to begin West Palm Beach Invitational Monday

WVU Basketball

Mike Carey's crew to play two games in two days against teams with winning records

WVU women’s basketball head coach Mike Carey gives instructions to his team during a game earlier this season. (Photo Jamie Green)

The West Virginia University women’s basketball team travels to West Palm Beach, Florida, from Dec. 20-21, for a pair of games against No. 16 South Florida and Michigan State at the 2021 West Palm Beach Invitational.

Both of this week’s games will be played on the flagship campus of Keiser University. WVU tips off against USF on Monday, Dec. 20, at 1:15 p.m. ET, before squaring off against Michigan State on Tuesday, Dec. 21, at 11 a.m. Both contests will be broadcast on FloHoops. Additionally, fans can listen to the game on the WVU Gameday App, WVUsports.com or on the Mountaineer Sports Network. Live stats will be available on WVUsports.com.

West Virginia (6-2, 0-0 Big 12) and South Florida (8-3, 0-0 AAC), a pair of old BIG EAST foes, meet for the ninth time on Dec. 20. After USF took the first meeting in the series, 66-56, on Feb. 25, 2006, WVU has won the last seven matchups, dating back to Feb. 17, 2007. During its current win streak, the Mountaineers are averaging 70.4 points per game against the Bulls.

West Virginia and South Florida have not met since WVU joined the Big 12 Conference for the 2012-13 season.

USF is coming off a 62-46 win over High Point on Dec. 17, at the Yuengling Center in Tampa, Florida. With the win, USF has now won three straight games dating back to Dec. 12 at VCU, 64-57

South Florida has a pair of top-10 wins this season, with triumphs over then-No. 9 Oregon, 71-62, on Nov. 22, and then-No. 7/5 Stanford, 57-54, on Nov. 26. Of note, two of USF’s three losses have come at the hands of then-No. 2 Connecticut, 60-53, and then-No. 16/12 Tennessee, 52-49.

The Bulls currently have four players averaging double figures in scoring this season and are led by Sydni Harvey, who is showing 12.4 points per game. Bethy Mununga is pacing South Florida on the Boards this season, with 11.9 rebounds per game

South Florida is led by coach Jose Fernandez, who is 400-279 during his 22 seasons in Tampa. Fernandez is 1-7 all-time against WVU coach Mike Carey.

West Virginia and Michigan State (7-4, 0-0 Big 10) are set to meet for the second time on Dec. 21. The first matchup in the series came two seasons ago, when WVU upset then-No. 19 MSU, 63-57, in the 2019 Florida Sunshine Classic in Orlando.

Michigan State enters this week’s tournaments after defeating Illinois, 75-60, on Dec. 9, in East Lansing, Michigan. The Spartans opened the 2021-22 campaign with four consecutive wins before suffering back-to-back losses at Fordham, 71-68, on Nov. 21, and at St. Francis Brooklyn, 66-63, on Nov. 23.

MSU has three players averaging double figures in scoring, including Nia Clouden, who currently leads the team with 211 points and an average of 19.2 per game. Taiyier Parks is the Spartans’ leading rebounder, with 56 boards, and averages 5.1 per contest.

Michigan State is led by coach Suzy Merchant, who is 303-161 in 15 seasons leading the Spartans.

West Virginia is coming off a 75-68 overtime win against James Madison on Dec. 12, at Atlantic Bank Union Center in Harrisonburg, Virginia.

Junior guard KK Deans led WVU’s scoring attack once again, with a team-high 17 points, and was one of three Mountaineers to finish the game in double figures. Senior forward Kari Niblack and junior forward Esmery Martinez chipped in 15 and 10 points, respectively. Martinez also tallied a game-high 14 rebounds to net her third double-double of the season.

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