West Virginia rode a double double from Esmery Martinez and nearly got another from Kysre Gondrezick as the Mountaineers downed Texas Tech 83-78 on Wednesday evening, but head coach Mike Carey was less than pleased with the overall performance of his team.
Noting several times that WVU was “two steps slow”, Carey also criticized the Mountaineers’ patience in getting the ball inside, which would have taken better advantage of his team’s height and size superiority over the Red Raiders.
“We could have kicked it inside all night, but our guards weren’t patient. We were taking early shots in the shot clock. It wasn’t good. The high post was open all night and we were getting stuff in the paint but our guards would not reverse the ball,” Carey emphasized.
Even with those shortcomings, Martinez scored 18 points and had 15 rebounds — her eighth double double of the season. Rochelle Norris scored nine points, including the first seven of the game when Kari Niblack came ouut just a minute into the contest with an ankle injury, and Blessing Ejiofor had four in seven minutes. Niblack returned to action and managed six points.
Still, Carey remained frustrated with the lack of patience on the perimeter. WVU’s guards took 39 shots in the game against 32 by front court.
“I apologized to our posts, and told them some of you should have had a career night,” Carey reiterated. “They couldn’t guard you in the paint, but we didn’t make them pay for that.”
Tech was led by Vivian Gray’s 28 points, but Tech was also kept in the game by poor defensive execution on WVU’s part. The Mountaineers put the Red Raiders on the free throw line 30 times via 31 personal fouls, and they capitalized by making 24 of them. Four Mountaineers — Martinez, Niblack, Jayla Hemingway and KK Deans — finished with four fouls, and three others had three apeice.
“We put them at the foul line far too many times,” Niblack said afterward. “We should have played smarter on defense. The whistles were tight tonight.”
Carey noted that WVU’s sluggishness contributed to the fouling, which left players out of position and reaching rather than moving their feet to cut down pentration.
“They were dribble driving us all night,” he noted. “We put our hands on them. Those were fouls.”
Tech, despite the size disparity, finished with 34 points in the paint, just four fewer than the Mountaineers.
It wasn’t all bad for WVU, though, as the Mountaineers got 30 points from their backups. In addition to Norris’ nine, Jasmine Carson scored 13 in only nine minutes.
“Thank goodness for our bench. We would have gotten beat without that,” Carey said. “Carson came off the bench and scored, and Rochelle Norris came off the bench and played extremely hard.”
The win, the Mountaineers’ third in a row, moved WVU to 9-2 overall and 3-2 in the league, while Tech, which lost its fourth straight, dropped to 6-6 and 1-5. Escaping with a win over a bottom tier team wasn’t exactly the showing Carey was looking for, but it was one he was worried about after WVU pasted Texas by 34 points four days prior.
“If we are going to be a good team, we can’t do things like we did tonight. We have to be ready.”
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Niblack noted she was ok after the first quarter mishap, which she attributed to ‘trying to go two directions at once’.
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Carey noted that WVU will probably be without Kysre Gondrezick, who had 19 points and nine assists, for Saturday’s game against Oklahoma State, which knocked off the Mountaineers a month ago in Stillwater. Gondrezick is expected to be away with her family after the death of her father, Grant, who passed away unexpectedly on Jan. 7.
OSU is second in the Big 12 with a 6-1 league record, and stands 10-3 overall.