WVU Women Take Another Step Toward NCAA At-Large Bid

Naomi Davenport

WVU Women Take Another Step Toward NCAA At-Large Bid

A pair of 20-point performances led the West Virginia University women’s basketball team to a 77-54 win over Oklahoma State at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Oklahoma, on Wednesday night.

Senior guard/forward Naomi Davenport had 24 points while redshirt junior guard Tynice Martin added 22 as the Mountaineers (19-6, 10-4) picked up their 10th Big 12 Conference win of the season.

West Virginia forward Naomi Davenport scores in the lane

Freshman guard Madisen Smith had 11 points, her fourth game in double figures this season, and went 4-of-9 from the field, including 3-of-5 from 3-point range. Fellow freshman Kari Niblack scored six points, shooting 1-of-3 from the field, and grabbed 12 rebounds.

The two teams combined for just one field goal through the first four minutes of play. WVU’s first points of the night came at the free-throw line, courtesy of Niblack, with 7:39 to play. A Davenport triple was next up on the 11-0 run that saw the Mountaineers grab an 11-3 advantage with 3:23 to play in the first.

Niblack added a layup to make it a 13-0 run before the teams traded 3-pointers to put the score at 16-6 in favor of the Mountaineers. Niblack headed to the charity stripe for the third time, going 2-for-2, before the Cowgirls (13-12, 4-10) added a bucket to cap the first with WVU ahead, 18-10.

Martin started the second period off with a 3-pointer before Smith added another for a 14-point WVU advantage at 24-10. They each added one more, pushing the Mountaineers’ advantage to 17 at 32-15 midway through the frame.

Davenport completed a three-point-play at the free-throw line before Martin hit yet another shot from downtown for a 38-22 lead with under a minute to go. From there, Davenport hit a layup on the fast break and OSU countered with a 3-pointer at the buzzer as West Virginia took a 40-25 lead into the locker room for halftime.

A jumper from Martin started the scoring in the third, before Davenport added a layup to bring WVU’s lead to 19 in the opening minutes of the second half. Senior center Theresa Ekhelar got a bucket and drew a foul soon after, hitting the free throw to make it 47-28 Mountaineers.

Later on, a 3-pointer from sophomore guard Nia Staples made it a 21-point WVU lead at 54-33 halfway through the third period. Moments later, Davenport was fouled on a fast break and hit the ensuing free throw as her three-point-play pushed the Mountaineers in front by 14 before they extended it to 60-37 heading to the final period of play.

Smith scored on the fast break early in the fourth, putting her in double-figure scoring for the fourth straight game with 11 points. Back-to-back buckets from Davenport made it a 25-point lead once again for WVU before both teams traded free throws to put the score at 68-43 with 5:14 to play in the game.

A pull-up jumper by Davenport put her at 24 points for the game and made it a 27-point advantage for the Mountaineers. Martin hit a pair of 3-pointers to put her at 21 points for her 11th 20-point performance of the season. The Cowgirls added a 3-pointer, but freshman forward Jala Jordan countered with a made jumper as WVU headed towards the finish line.

The Mountaineers went 29-of-55 (52.7%) from the field, including 9-of-23 (39.1%) from 3-point range. WVU assisted on 19 of its 29 field goals and held a 36-33 advantage in rebounds. West Virginia also finished with eight steals.

Vivian Gray had a team-high 23 points for OSU (13-12, 4-10) as the Cowgirls shot 32.3 percent from the field.

West Virginia returns to Morgantown to host Oklahoma on Saturday in a 4 p.m. tipoff as part of “I Belong” Day at the WVU Coliseum. The game will air on AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh.

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