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Mountaineer use dominant first quarter to propel to victory over TCU

The West Virginia women’s basketball team used a huge first quarter to propel their way to victory over TCU on Tuesday evening in Morgantown, 66-54.

Esmery Martinez and JJ Quinerly led the way offensively for West Virginia (10-7, 3-4 Big 12) putting in 16 and 13 points, respectively. On the other end, TCU’s (6-10, 2-5 Big 12) Lauren Heard netted 17 points for the Horned Frogs offensively.

The first quarter was all West Virginia as the team got their first points on a KK Deans three-pointer before TCU hit a free throw for their only point of the quarter. The Mountaineers then went on a 14-0 run through the next eight minutes beginning with a couple of Martinez layups and another Deans three later on.

Deans would hit the pair of three-pointers in the opening quarter before Jayla Hemingway knocked one down to end the first. The first quarter Mountaineer scoring also included a Kari Niblack layup and a pair of free throws from Hemingway.

“They missed a couple easy ones, but we defended well, we kept them out of the paint and I think they had one offensive rebound at halftime. They only ended up with three, so we did a good job of boxing out but then we start fouling, we had like three or four players with two fouls first half, then we had people getting in foul trouble because we were just standing there,” said West Virginia head coach Mike Carey.  

Quinerly came alive in the second quarter dropping in 11 points in the quarter which included a three-point basket to open up the second. TCU began to chip away at the huge deficit they put themselves into in the first quarter going on a 10-2 scoring run at one point in the quarter. The Horned Frogs second quarter scoring was sparked by a trio of Aja Holmes three-point buckets.

The closest TCU was able to make the margin was 11 points in the second quarter, before Martinez hit a three-pointer and Quinerly went up for a layup and two-point jumper to give the Mountaineers the 39-22 advantage at halftime.

“She’s (Quinerly) got some of the quickest hands I’ve ever seen for a player, she has really quick hands and that doesn’t surprise me,” said Carey. “She’s going to continue to grow as a player, like I said I thought Esmery, this was the most minutes she’s played since she was sick, and she was getting tired, but it was good to push her a little more minutes-wise.”

The Horned Frogs came out shooting in the second half after Okako Adika and Michelle Berry each knocked down a three-pointer to begin the third quarter to bring the margin within nine, 39-30. The Mountaineers followed that up two minutes later with a pair of threes from Martinez and Hemingway to give West Virginia the 17-point lead four minutes into the second half, 47-30.

Mountaineer Ari Gray was able to dribble in for a layup as well as knock down a two-point jumper before TCU got some free throws from Heard to end the third. West Virginia still led at 51-39 heading to the fourth quarter.

Three minutes into the fourth quarter, TCU made the game an eight-point deficit following an Adika free throw, 53-45. It didn’t last very long as Madisen Smith knocked down a three and Savannah Samuel hit a two-point jumper to put back the Mountaineer lead to 13 points, 58-45.

Berry countered with a two-point jumper later in the fourth, but it was immediately followed up by a Deans three-pointer with a little over a minute remaining in regulation for the 64-51 West Virginia lead. Martinez then knocked down a pair of free throws for the 12-point Mountaineer victory, 66-54.

West Virginia will be back in action next Saturday, January 29 when the Mountaineers host Baylor inside the Coliseum at 2 p.m. with televising on Big 12 Now and ESPN+.

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