West Virginia women’s basketball made a big move for its postseason after defeating Kansas State on the road, 72-64.
With the win, WVU officially seals the 2-seed in the Big 12 Tournament behind Baylor, with only a game against the Lady Bears remaining on the schedule. This is a welcome sight for the Mountaineers, who were picked to finish fifth in the league during the preseason.
“It feels good, I mean, I give all the credit to the players, man,” said WVU coach Mike Carey. “We’ve had people leave the program because they weren’t playing, we’ve had injuries, we’ve had people play out of position, we’ve had to go play three straight games on the road and we’ve got the fourth coming up. I mean, we haven’t had a lot of advantages going down the stretch here, but give these players a lot of credit because they’ve hung in there.”
Esmery Martinez was the motor for West Virginia, finishing with 23 points and 12 rebounds — and she got started early. She helped WVU jump out in front for an early nine-point lead in the first quarter before the Wildcats closed the gap to make it just a one-point deficit.
West Virginia was well in control for much of the game after the start of the second quarter. The Mountaineers built on their lead throughout the second quarter, heading to the locker room ahead by nine once again. They kept the momentum going into the third, going up by a game-high 13 points.
Ayoka Lee helped Kansas State chip away at that deficit, going in front of the Mountaineers in the opening minute of the fourth quarter. WVU fought them right back off, however, and was able to take advantage of a cold spell for both teams over the last four minutes to eat away clock and bring the contest to a close.
Fittingly, Kysre Gondrezick punctuated the contest with a three-pointer as the clock dipped under 30 seconds.
Martinez was by far the strongest player for WVU, as she shot 73.3 percent from the floor, including a three-pointer. Lee was just as strong for K-State, as she finished with 26 points and 14 rebounds.
Three other Mountaineers were in double-digits — Gondrezick (14 points), Kirsten Deans (13) and Jasmine Carson (11). Deans was just an assist short of a double-double herself, while Carson provided a key spark off the bench.
“We had four girls in double figures, which is good, and we were out of position the whole game,” Carey said. “I mean we had people playing the point, we had Esmery playing the five at one time, our girls showed a lot of heart.”
Christianna Carr was the only other Wildcat with double-digits, chipping in 15.
This result slips Kansas State to 3-14 in the conference and 8-16 overall, and gives WVU a 13-4 record in the Big 12 and a 19-4 record overall, awaiting a season-closing matchup with Baylor on Monday in Waco. That tips off at 8 p.m. on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.