A five-game Mountaineer win streak is on the line when West Virginia women’s hosts Kansas State at the WVU Coliseum on Thursday at 7 p.m. ET. The action will be shown on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.
This contest will be the fourth straight home game for the Mountaineers (10-2, 4-2 Big 12) as they come off a 67-59 win against Oklahoma State over the weekend, in which four Mountaineers scored in double figures, led by Kirsten Deans’s 18 points. WVU’s offense seemed just fine against the Cowgirls despite the absence of leading scorer Kysre Gondrezick.
Luckily for the Mountaineers, Coach Mike Carey expects the guard to return after missing some time for personal reasons. This could be a big boost, as Gondrezick is on track to have one of the best seasons in the scoring column in decades with an 20.4 point per game clip.
WVU will be facing a Kansas State squad (5-4, 0-2 Big 12) that has been away from the court since Dec. 21 due to a pause in team activities due to COVID-19. At tip-off, that will amount to 30 straight days without a game, with five postponements in that span.
KSU’s last two contests were a pair of losses to open Big 12 play on Dec. 18 and 21, at Iowa State and against Texas at home, respectively.
Despite the Wildcats’ record and hiatus, they could very well be a tough matchup for West Virginia, especially in terms of size. Leading scorer Ayoka Lee stands tall at 6-6, which is taller than any of the Mountaineers’ starters.
“She’s a legit 6-6, and has gotten stronger and more mobile,” Carey said. “So she’s a great player in this conference.”
Of course, West Virginia has had success with its own inside game. Esmery Martinez has amassed nine double-doubles this season, including seven straight. She’s also the league’s leading rebounder at 13.2 boards per game.
“That’s a luxury we have this year, we can go inside a little bit more, or we can just stay out on the perimeter if they’re just going to sag in the paint and hit shots,” Carey said. “That’s why we’ve been able to score, because we can score from inside and out.”
Action between the Mountaineers and the Wildcats gets underway at 7 p.m. ET on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.