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Big Second Half Leads WVU Past Ohio

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (Dec. 21, 2020) – The West Virginia University women’s basketball team trailed by as many as 16 but used a strong, second-half rally to take down Ohio, 88-79, on Monday afternoon at the WVU Coliseum.

Four Mountaineers finished in double figures in the win, led by redshirt senior guard Kyrse Gondrezick’s 24 points and eight assists. Sophomore guard Kirsten Deans added a career-high 21 points, while sophomore forward Esmery Martinez recorded her third consecutive double-double with 16 points and 15 rebounds. Junior guard Madisen Smith finished with 10 points and six assists.

WVU (6-2) trailed, 42-30, at halftime, before outscoring the Bobcats, 58-34, in the second half.

“Needless to say, we played a lot better in the second half than we did in the first,” WVU coach Mike Carey said. “At least we played with some energy the second half. We had to go small. I thought (sophomore guard) Jayla Hemingway came off the bench, and she did a great job. Esmery was a little tired. She has been playing heavy minutes, and she is a little tweaked up from the Oklahoma State game, but she still had a double-double. I was told this is her third one (in a row). She is going to have a lot throughout her career.

I thought KK (sophomore guard Kirsten Deans), Madisen and Kysre all sucked it up and played hard. We started extending our defense and putting some more pressure on them, taking them out of their offense. I thought that was key. I thought that (junior forward) Kari (Niblack) did a good job when she was in there, but she was in foul trouble most of the game.”

The Mountaineers started just 1-for-10 from the floor in the nonconference matinee, before Deans’ 3-pointer at the 4:23 mark of the opening frame tied the game at 9. From there, Ohio (3-2) scored nine of the quarter’s final 12 points and held West Virginia scoreless for the last 2:54 of the period to take an 18-12 lead after 10 minutes.

WVU began just 3-for-14 shooting with five turnovers.

Martinez opened the second quarter with a jumper from the elbow, before a 3-pointer by Gondrezick made it a 22-17 game with 7:33 before the half. Later, the visitors made seven straight shots at one point to build a 42-26 advantage just before the break.

WVU was able to score the final four points of the half off makes by Martinez and Hemingway, yet still trailed the Bobcats by 12 at the half.

In the second half, the Mountaineers came out firing with a 12-2 run midway through the third period to tie it at 48. OU wouldn’t go anywhere, though, as the Bobcats’ Erica Johnson scored eight straight for her team, bumping the lead back to 56-52.

West Virginia closed the quarter with a pair of layups from Smith and Deans, making it a 1-point deficit at 57-56 heading into the final frame.

Deans began the fourth in a big way for the Mountaineers, as her layup just seconds into the quarter finally gave the hosts a lead. Then, the Greensboro, North Carolina, native nailed a 3 on the next trip down to make it 61-60 WVU. 

Deans finished 7-of-12 from the field in the win.

After five straight points from Ohio, it was Gondrezick’s turn to swish a shot from beyond the arc, which was followed by her make at the 7:38 mark to give WVU another 1-point lead.

In all, West Virginia made eight of its first 10 shots in the fourth and led by as many as nine in the period. With an 80-71 lead, the Mountaineers were forced to sustain one last punch from the Bobcats with just over two minutes to play. OU clawed back to as close as five at 82-77 but couldn’t draw nearer.

Ohio made just one of its final seven shots on the afternoon.

Gondrezick’s big 3-pointer with 1:22 to go helped WVU get to the finish line. The Benton Harbor, Michigan, native tallied 20 or more points for the fifth time this season and was West Virginia’s leading scorer for the sixth time on the campaign. 

WVU finished 33-of-62 (39%) from the field, while Ohio shot 29-of-65 (40%) as a team. The Bobcats swished 10 3s as a team, compared to WVU’s seven, while the Mountaineers held a 37-34 advantage in the rebound department. 

Ohio was led by Cece Hooks’ game-high 29 points, while Johnson added 27 more.

Next up, West Virginia returns to action on Saturday, Jan. 2, when it travels to Kansas. Tipoff at Allen Fieldhouse, in Lawrence, Kansas, will be announced in the next week.

Press Release Courtesy of WVU Sports

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