MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia’s women’s basketball team (7-5, 0-2 Big 12) held a seven-point lead over Kansas State (13-2, 3-0 Big 12) heading into halftime Saturday night at the WVU Coliseum.

The Mountaineers held a scoring advantage in the paint, and made as many shots from the floor (9) in the second quarter as Kansas State did in the entire first half.

The second half was a different story.

Kansas State outscored WVU by 17 points after halftime, and went on to win 71-61 on West Virginia’s home floor.

A tale of two halves. [We] did exactly what we wanted to do defensively and offensively the first half. Second half, did the opposite,” head coach Mike Carey said following the loss. “Why we come out flat in the third quarter, I have no idea.”

The third quarter has been a difference maker this season for WVU.

“We just came out slow in the third quarter. We tend to have that problem,” said senior guard Madisen Smith. “Third quarters are not our strong suit. We’re going to have to come up with something to have a better third quarter, because that’s where we lost it.”

The Mountaineers have won every game in which they have outscored their opponent in the third quarter. However, in the five instances the opposition has outscored WVU in the third, those games have all resulted in West Virginia defeats.

In fact, no quarter of action has a larger scoring disparity for the Mountaineers than the third quarter.

Here’s a quarter-by-quarter breakdown of the scoring differential in West Virginia’s wins and losses.

1st Quarter2nd Quarter 3rd Quarter4th Quarter
Losses -5-16-37-14

That’s a 101-point swing in the third quarter between the Mountaineers’ wins and losses this season.

The other three quarters have no higher than a 49-point differential.

West Virginia led at halftime in two of its five losses this season. That was the case Saturday against Kansas State, and earlier this season against BYU.

WVU led by a combined 15 points entering halftime, but lost those two games by a combined 11 points. The Mountaineers were outscored by a total of 26 points in the second halves of those contests.

“The starters come out flat, come out flat as heck in the third quarter,” Carey said Saturday. “Then we started substituting, and then we start turning the ball over, we quit playing defense.”

Asked what has led to the difference in outcomes in the third quarter, Smith pointed to the team’s execution.

In games against teams that currently have a winning record, the Mountaineers have only outscored its opponent once during the third quarter. That was in West Virginia’s win over Michigan State.

Carey said he needs his players to step up, but that doesn’t mean by just scoring.

“Here’s an idea, step up on defense. Play defense. Get it moving. Get a steal,” he said. “Offensively, get an offensive rebound. Get an easy one. Get out on breaks. Set up someone for an easy layup. Those are the things that we don’t do.”