"It's a big game," said junior guard Liz Repella. "Notre Dame is a really good team. They are ranked fifth in the country. It's going to be a big game for us and we're all excited for it. Hopefully we can make history."
The match-up will put the Mountaineers against the toughest opponent that they have seen since they faced the then-No. 3 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes in November. WVU suffered its only loss of the season in that game, but Repella is confident that her team has grown from where they were after that early season setback. So too does freshman center Aysa Bussie.
"It's our first big game since the Ohio State game and I think we're a lot more prepared and ready now than we were at the beginning of the season," said Bussie. "So we will get to see where we are. Our confidence and chemistry [have grown since then]. Each player is starting to know their role."
Bussie and the rest of the Mountaineers are in for a tough test, they face their toughest atmosphere of the season at the Joyce Center. On top of never getting a win in the building, they will be facing a much larger crowd at Notre Dame than what they will face any other time this season, with a crowd of about 10,000 expected.
"I think it will be a great atmosphere," said head Coach Mike Carey. "I'm sure they will really build this game up. It's on a Sunday afternoon and it will be in front of a great crowd. It's going to be on ESPNU too. They will build this game up. They need this win. TWe have no losses in the Big East and they have one to Connecticut. I think it's going to be a real battle."
Bussie is anxious to play in the tough surroundings.
"Playing in front of [that many people] is definitely new," admitted Bussie. "I'm looking forward to it."
After splitting a pair of games with the Fighting Irish last season, the Mountaineers are very familiar with the Fighting Irish. Notre Dame returns all five starters from last season, and has hadded talented newcomers such as freshman guard Skylar Diggins.
"They're deep," said Carey. "They're eight or nine deep. They have all of their starters back plus a couple of other players and a few coming off of injury so they're very deep. We're going to have to play very, very well for 40 minutes. They press a lot. They put a lot of pressure on you. They run that high post series looking for backdoors and they have some shooters. [Diggins] will probably be freshman of the year in the Big East."