WVU Women Persevere Against Kansas
Three Mountaineers scored in double figures as the West Virginia University women’s basketball team (16-9, 6-8 Big 12) earned a 60-53 victory over Kansas on Saturday evening at the WVU Coliseum in Morgantown.
Redshirt senior guard Tynice Martin led all scorers with 19 points on the night, as she surpassed 4,000 career minutes in the contest. Sophomore forward Kari Niblack also scored in double figures, adding 14 points and six rebounds. With the mark, Niblack has now reached double digits in six consecutive games and 12 this season. Also scoring in double figures Saturday night was sophomore guard Madisen Smith, collecting 12 points.
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“Starting out, we couldn’t hit a shot, but we kept playing hard,” WVU coach Mike Carey said. “We were able to tie it going into half, and then I thought in the second half we played a little bit better and hit some shots. I thought several people played well. I thought KK (Kirsten Deans) played well. (Redshirt senior guard) Tynice (Martin) started hitting some shots. (Sophomore guard) Madisen Smith, (too). It was a team effort.”
The Mountaineers controlled the opening tip, but Kansas jumped out to an early 7-0 lead. With WVU scoreless more than four minutes into the contest, redshirt freshman center Rochelle Norris added a layup to put West Virginia on the board. KU responded with a pair of free throws, but Niblack connected on a layup of her own with the shotclock nearing expiration. Both teams were quiet through the remainder of the first quarter, but the Jayhawks hit a 3-pointer to end the frame with a 12-4 advantage.
Smith ended the Mountaineers’ scoring drought by adding two at the free-throw line, but Kansas collected a pair of scores on the other end to take a 10-point lead. Niblack cut into the lead with a layup and a short jumper from the paint before Smith added a trey to shorten KU’s lead to three. From there, the Mountaineers went on to connect on two more triples from freshman guard Kirsten Deans and Martin to come within one.
Martin then gave WVU its first lead of the contest at 21-20 after hitting a mid-range jumper. KU connected on a layup, but Martin knocked down another 3-pointer to give the Mountaineers a two-point lead. The Jayhawks knotted the score at 24-24, but Deans added two points at the free-throw line. A last-second foul was called on the Mountaineers to send the Jayhawks to the line, as the two squads went to the locker room in a 26-26 tie.
Kansas opened the scoring in the second half with a foul shot, but Martin reclaimed WVU’s lead after knocking down a jumper, before Deans added a free throw of her own. Smith then went to the line and went 1-of-2, followed by a bucket from Deans. Martin connected on a pair of foul shots to give WVU a 34-27 lead. The Mountaineers extended their lead to eight just past the mid-way point of the third after Deans connected on a foul shot and Smith added a jumper. The Jayhawks then went on a five-point scoring run to crawl within three, but WVU responded with a pair of foul shots from senior Lucky Rudd and a 3-pointer from Martin to take a 42-36 advantage into the fourth quarter.
Niblack opened the final frame with a layup, but the Jayhawks knocked down a triple to cut into the Mountaineer lead. West Virginia went into the fourth-quarter media timeout with a 50-43 lead after a trio of layups from freshman forward Esmery Martinez, Smith and Niblack. Out of the timeout, Martin connected on her fourth trey of the contest, but KU’s Holly Kersgieter added one of her own on the other end.
Next, Niblack netted two points at the line, but Kansas continued to battle, adding one at the line and a layup. However, the Mountaineers’ performance on the free-throw line kept the Jayhawks at bay, as WVU earned the 60-53 victory and a series sweep.
The Mountaineers finished the contest shooting just 34.6 percent (18-of-52) from the field, but the team connected on six 3-pointers to go 40 percent (6-of-15) from beyond the arc. West Virginia forced 22 Jayhawk turnovers in the win, scoring 21 points off turnovers. The Mountaineers also tallied 10 blocks, tying a season high.
Kansas shot 33.9 percent (19-of-56) from the floor and went 7-of-19 (36.8 percent) from 3-point range. The Jayhawks edged WVU in rebounds, grabbing 41 boards to the Mountaineers’ 36. KU tallied eight steals while forcing 15 West Virginia turnovers.
West Virginia has a quick turnaround this week, as the squad is back in action on Monday, Feb. 24, to take on No. 2 Baylor in Morgantown. Opening tip at the WVU Coliseum is set for 7 p.m. ET. Monday’s contest against the Lady Bears is Dollar Day, with tickets and select concessions priced at $1. Additionally, the first 400 fans will receive a Flying WV bow tie.