MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — After taking advantage of the extra year of eligibility granted to collegiate athletes following the pandemic, fifth-year guard Madisen Smith walked down the carpet on Senior Night for the second time in her West Virginia career on Saturday.
Last year, as a true senior, Smith was all smiles as she walked toward center court with her family. This time around, the emotions hit her as she neared first-year head coach Dawn Plitzuweit, and tears began to flow.
“I think Madisen Smith has certainly had a great career, but certainly a great super-senior year, if you will,” Plitzuweit said. “I thought in a game when we really needed to make things happen, she did.”
That is sort of a perfect summary of Smith’s career at WVU, especially the last two-plus seasons. She made things happen when her team needed her to. In what could be her next-to-last performance inside the WVU Coliseum, Smith tallied a team-high 20 points to lead the Mountaineers to victory over Kansas State.
When asked about the fifth-year guard, Plitzuweit mentioned Smith’s in-game contributions that don’t just show up on her line in the stat sheet. The veteran point guard is active off the ball and vocal during timeouts.
Her abilities and production are why Kansas State head coach Jeff Mittie jokingly said he “should have sent her a card” to thank her for finally exiting the Big 12 once this season is over.
“I love her but I’m tired of seeing her,” Mittie with a laugh. “She’s a heck of a competitor. I’ve really enjoyed watching her over the years just compete and make big plays.”
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The senior half of West Virginia’s well-respected backcourt duo can credit the respect she has earned throughout the conference to the toughness and consistency that she plays with, according to Plitzuweit.
Not only has she earned the respect of opposing coaches and players, but she has earned the admiration of Mountaineer fans. They gave her a standing ovation as she was subbed out late in the fourth quarter.
“She’s someone who obviously West Virginia, and West Virginia women’s basketball, means a great deal to her. And so, to have someone in your program that is leading from that mindset, is certainly, I believe, very grateful for West Virginia, it speaks volumes,” added Coach P. “Our fans certainly appreciate her. And she had her moment when she came out at the end to kind of appreciate our fans, so that was really special.”
The Greenville, South Carolina native tweeted “Mountaineer Nation… I LOVE YOU #HailWV” late Saturday night.
Smith, statistically, is one of the most well-rounded players in WVU women’s basketball history.
She will graduate as one of just four players in program history to have at least 1,000 points, 500 assists, 400 made shot attempts, and 300 rebounds. Smith is the only player to play 50 minutes in a single game multiple times, something she has now done three times in her career.
Ever consistent, she is averaging 13.1 points per game overall this year, and 13.2 points per contest against conference competition.
Her 2.5 made threes per game ranks fourth in the Big 12.
Smith will play her final scheduled home game inside the Coliseum Wednesday night against Oklahoma State.