West Virginia women’s basketball notched its first league victory of the season after defeating Texas Tech 64-53 on Wednesday in Morgantown.
The Mountaineer backcourt thrived against the Red Raiders, as the trio of Kirsten “KK” Deans, Madisen Smith and JJ Quinerly combined for 41 points on the night. The squad also hunkered down and bothered Texas Tech’s offense, generating 19 points off 21 turnovers.
“I thought we played great defense the majority of the game,” said WVU coach Mike Carey. “We didn’t block out well. The
Both teams had a slow first quarter, each scoring in single digits while unable to pull away from the other. WVU changed that in the second quarter, though, generating several scoring runs to take a seven-point lead into halftime.
The Mountaineers’ third quarter woes returned against the Red Raiders. Lexy Hightower lifted the visitors as she nailed a pair of three-pointers, providing the boost for a 10-point swing to get Texas Tech in front.
“I think that we were just more aggressive,” said Texas Tech coach Krista Gerlich. “I think that we understood what we had been talking to them about the last couple of days about just playing more physical, setting better screens, being stronger with the basketball, not giving them so many second chance opportunities with turnovers.”
Deans made sure to keep the game in reach, however. She added eight of her team high 15 points in the third quarter of play, while adding an assist and a steal. The junior finished the game with four assists, five boards and three steals.
“She also guarded [TTU guard Vivian] Gray all game. You have to understand she’s always guarding the other team’s best perimeter player, every game. Every game. So that takes a lot…out of you, and it does affect you, it wears you down on the offensive end,” Carey said. “But KK is a strong player…she can drive it and she hit a couple threes that was big for us to keep us close.”
The fourth quarter, although a bit messy, was all West Virginia. WVU went on another run to take the lead back in the final minutes, this time for seven points, before the Red Raiders were forced to extend the game with foul shots. In fact, WVU’s last 13 points of the game came from the charity stripe, and were all scored over the last 3 minutes and 15 seconds of the contest.
TTU’s Vivian Gray led the game with 16 points, while Hightower added another 11 for the Red Raiders. Gray also tied Ella Tofaeono for the team high with seven rebounds.
Smith added 15 for WVU along with Deans, while Quinerly added 11. Esmery Martinez paced the Mountaineers with seven boards, while Kari Niblack added six.
That third quarter remains a difficult period for the Mountaineers. Before this game, they were getting outscored by 37 points during that part of losing games. On Wednesday, they added to that total with another five-point deficit.
“Third quarter again, I don’t have the answer. I don’t know,” Carey said. “I tried to run some things that we don’t normally and get them moving, and we just struggled in the third quarter to core again.”
The Mountaineers move to 8-5 overall on the season, and improve to 1-2 in the Big 12 after their first league win. Texas Tech falls to 8-7 on the year and 1-3 in the conference.
WVU next tips off on Saturday when it travels to face Texas in Austin. Tip-off is set for 8 p.m. ET on the Longhorn Network.