WVU Women Down Kansas; No. 1 Baylor Next
The West Virginia University women’s basketball team notched its sixth-straight 20 win season with a 75-61 win over Kansas at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence on Saturday evening.
It marks West Virginia’s (20-8, 11-6) 13th 20-win season under coach Mike Carey.
Four Mountaineers finished in double figures, led by 19 points from senior forward Naomi Davenport. Redshirt junior guard Tynice Martin added 13, while freshman forward Kari Niblack finished with 11 on the night.
Senior guard Katrina Pardee scored in double figures for the first time since returning from injury, finishing with 11. Senior center Theresa Ekhelar led the rebounding with nine boards, while Niblack chipped in eight as WVU won the battle on the glass 41-31.
The Mountaineers shot 57.4 percent in the win but struggled at the free-throw line as they finished 14-of-26 for 53.8 percent.
Davenport started the scoring a fast-break layup in the first, but KU countered with a 3-pointer. She then followed with a 3-pointer and a jumper as West Virginia took a 9-7 lead over the Jayhawks midway through the first.
After picking up a block down the other end, Niblack laid it up and in and added a jumper soon after for a 6-point WVU lead at 13-7 with 2:46 to play. KU hit another trey to cut the Mountaineer advantage to three, but Niblack struck back with a layup. She drew the foul and hit the free throw as WVU went up by six again. A pair of late 3-pointers from Martin and junior guard Lucky Rudd put West Virginia on top 24-15 at the end of the first.
The Mountaineers used a 6-0 run at the start of the second to push the lead to 15, forcing KU into a timeout. KU came out of the stoppage and scored on back-to-back possessions, though WVU kept a 10-point advantage at 30-20 with 6:12 to play in the half.
Following a Davenport layup, Martin put up one of her own and drew the foul, hitting the ensuing free throw to make it 35-20 in favor of West Virginia. Pardee hit a triple, and Niblack followed with a bucket in the paint in the closing minutes as the Mountaineers led the Jayhawks, 40-24, at the half.
Davenport made a pair of trips to the charity stripe in the opening minute of the third quarter, going 3-for-4 to put West Virginia up 43-24. KU hit a layup, but the Mountaineers countered with a layup from Ekhelar and a jumper from Pardee. Niblack scored on the fast break soon after, making it a 49-26 Mountaineer advantage with six to play in the frame.
Davenport hit another jumper before Pardee and Martin each drained a trey to close the scoring in the third with a 57-36 WVU lead.
Pardee was fouled on a 3-point attempt at the start of the fourth and went 3-for-3 at the line for a 60-39 lead over the Jayhawks. Freshman guard Madisen Smith picked up her first points of the night on a jumper with 7:28 to play, putting WVU on top 62-42. Ekhelar then grabbed the rebound off a miss by Rudd and put it in for a 65-48 Mountaineer advantage.
Following back-to-back WVU turnovers and technicals on both teams with less than 90 seconds to play, each team took a turn at the free-throw line. Smith went 1-for-2, while the Jayhawks went 2-for-2 as the Mountaineers kept the 72-61 lead. The Jayhawks fouled from there, with West Virginia claiming the 75-61 victory.
Kansas (12-16, 2-15) shot 33.3 percent from the field with six 3-pointers. The Jayhawks were led by 17 points each from Christalah Lyons and Kylee Kopatich.
West Virginia returns home to play host to No. 1 Baylor at the WVU Coliseum on Monday in a 7 p.m. tipoff on FS1. Prior to the game Pardee, Davenport and Ekhelar will be honored as part of Senior Night.