KANSAS CITY, Mo. (March 14, 2021) – The No. 17/23-ranked West Virginia University women’s basketball team (21-6, 13-5 Big 12) fell to No. 6/6 Baylor, 76-50, on Sunday afternoon, in the 2021 Big 12 Women’s Basketball Championship title game at Municipal Auditorium, in Kansas City.
Sophomore guard Kirsten Deans led the team in scoring in the championship contest, with 15, while redshirt senior guard Kysre Gondrezick added 13 points of her own. Sophomore forward Esmery Martinez paced the Mountaineers on the glass, with 11 rebounds.
Of note, Gondrezick was named to this year’s Big 12 All-Tournament Team.
West Virginia took the early advantage in the game on a pair of scores, including a 3-pointer from Deans. Baylor fired right back with two makes of its own to reclaim the lead. The two teams continued to score and trade the lead all the way until the first media break at the 3:55 mark of the first quarter. The Lady Bears led by one at the break.
Junior forward Kari Niblack added one at the free-throw line coming out of the timeout, but Baylor ended the period on a 7-0 run to lead, 21-12, heading into the second quarter.
Niblack tacked on another score from the elbow to begin the second to cut BU’s lead to seven. The Lady Bears then went on a 6-0 scoring run to take a 13-point lead, before Deans halted the flurry with another triple. West Virginia trailed by 10 at the second-quarter media break.
After the timeout, the Mountaineers went on the offensive attack to cut Baylor’s lead to single digits. The run began with a second-chance score from senior center Blessing Ejiofor, which was followed up by an and-1 opportunity from junior guard Jasmine Carson that cut the deficit to seven points. After Gondrezick sank a pair of free throws, WVU trailed by just five points with 2:36 remaining in the first half.
Gondrezick tacked on another score before the quarter came to a close, but the Lady Bears netted six more points on the other end to hold a 38-28 lead over West Virginia at halftime.
The Mountaineers fell behind by 15 to open the second half, as Baylor jumped out to a 5-0 run to begin the third quarter. WVU responded by scoring back-to-back buckets, including a fast-break score from Gondrezick, just before the media timeout.
Deans tacked on seven points of her own for WVU over the final minutes of the quarter, but the Lady Bears continued to fire on the offensive end and held a double-digit lead down the stretch. Gondrezick converted an and-1 try with three seconds remaining in the third period to cut the Mountaineers’’ deficit to 10 heading into the final 10 minutes of the game.
West Virginia notched a pair of scores from Gondrezick and Niblack to begin the fourth quarter, but the Mountaineers continued to trail by double digits until 5:37 remained in the game. After Baylor went ahead by 18, WVU knocked down four free throws to cut into the deficit, but the game had been decided, as the Mountainers could overcome the Lady Bears down the stretch.
Next up, West Virginia awaits its NCAA Tournament fate on Monday, March 15, as a part of the NCAA Selection Show. Monday’s presentation of the 64-team bracket will begin at 7 p.m. ET, and will be broadcast on ESPN. Further coverage of tomorrow’s bracket reveal will continue at 8 p.m., on ESPNU.
Press Release Courtesy of West Virginia University Athletics Communications