The first half of WVU women’s basketball’s clash with Kansas State was one of the Mountaineers’ best of the season. The second half, however, was a much different story, as the Wildcats ended up taking a 71-61 victory over the Mountaineers in Morgantown on Saturday.
“A tale of two halves,” said WVU coach Mike Carey. “We did exactly what we wanted to do defensively and offensively in the first half. Second half, we did the opposite.”
The Mountaineers built a seven-point lead at the halftime break behind a strong mix of individual effort and team-wide execution. WVU’s bigs, namely Esmery Martinez and Yamiah Morris, kept Big 12 leading scorer Yamiah Morris to just four points in the opening two quarters, while Madisen Smith led the offense with eight points and a trio of assists.
Once the third quarter started, though, things changed. WVU first built on its lead to get out to nine points, its biggest of the game, but Jaelyn Glenn started to take the game over. While the Mountaineers stifled Lee still in the third quarter, Glenn made four three-pointers as she lifted the Wildcats in front for the first time since the early part of the second quarter.
She finished with 20 points, with all six of her field goals coming from beyond the arc.
On the other end, WVU’s offense stalled. The Mountaineers made just five buckets through the entire third quarter, shaking out for a 31.3 percent field goal percentage.
“Why we’d come out flat in the third quarter, I have no idea,” Carey said.
Serena Sundell finished as the game’s leading scorer after a big fourth quarter to help seal the victory with an 11-point fourth quarter, upping her total to 21. Lee also came out of her shell, adding eight points on four buckets to finish with 14.
KK Deans led the Mountaineers with 16 points, half of which came in the fourth quarter. She also took the highest volume of shots, making 5-of-14 on the game, while grabbing seven rebounds and dishing five assists. Smith added 13 points and five assists.
WVU actually out-scored K-State in the paint in the game. When Glenn started making her three-pointers, however, the Mountaineers tried to make up their points from three-point range as well. That didn’t work out in their favor as they sunk just 22 percent of their shots from deep.
“That’s not what we do, that’s not what we do,” Carey said. “We don’t stand around shooting threes. First half we did, and second half we shouldn’t have.”
The Mountaineers fall to 7-5 on the season and 0-2 in the conference. Kansas State bumps its record to 13-2 on the season and 3-0 in the Big 12.
WVU’s winless start in the Big 12 has forced the Mountaineers to play catch-up early in the league slate. Now, every win is all the more critical.
“We’re just going to put this one behind us, watch some film,” Smith said. “Monday we’ve got practice, we’ll watch some film and worry about the next game.”