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Mountaineers get back on track against Red Raiders on Wednesday

The West Virginia women’s basketball team got back on track on Wednesday knocking off Texas Tech, 64-53.

The Mountaineers (7-5, 0-2 Big 12) were led offensively by Madisen Smith and Kirsten Deans 15 points apiece on the night. Texas Tech’s (8-7, 1-3 Big 12) scoring leaders were Vivian Gray with 16 points and Lexy Hightower’s 11 points.

Yemiyah Morris put the first points of the day up for the Mountaineers on a driving layup less than a minute into regulation. There was then a five-minute scoring drought for both teams before Madisen Smith went up for a layup with four minutes left in the first quarter. Kirsten Deans was able to give West Virginia a seven-point lead with two minutes left in the quarter on a three-pointer, 9-2.

The Red Raiders were able to bring the deficit within one heading to the second quarter after a Bryn Gerlich three-pointer off a West Virginia turnover, 9-8.

After Texas Tech took a one-point lead first thing in the second quarter on a Rhyle McKinney layup, Jasmine Carson hit a Mountaineer three before Smith hit a pair of free throws for the 14-10 West Virginia lead. JJ Quinerly also scored nine points in the second quarter alone for the Mountaineers on a three and a trio of two-pointers.

“I thought JJ did excellent, I thought she played well… she did a great job, hit a three, penetrated, got in the gap, defended, we’ve done that in non-conference play, played her at the two a little bit and if she keeps playing like that we’ll play her there a lot more,” said West Virginia head coach Mike Carey.

West Virginia grabbed a seven-point advantage halfway through the quarter on a Quinerly layup before Ella Tofaeona went up for a layup a minute later to bring the Texas Tech deficit within two, 20-18. The Mountaineers then went on a 9-4 scoring run to conclude the first half including the Quinerly three for the seven-point lead at the half, 29-22.

It was all Texas Tech out of the gates in the second half as the Red Raiders went on a 10-0 run through the first half of the third. The scoring run was sparked by a couple Lexy Hightower three-pointers and gave Tech the 32-29 advantage halfway through the quarter. Quinerly was able to put West Virginia ahead later in the third on a layup but it was immediately taken back on a Hightower three for Texas Tech.

The Mountaineers still trailed by one at the end of the third quarter, after Deans knocked down a pair of threes and the Red Raiders put up seven points for the 46-45 Texas Tech lead heading to the fourth.

“Third quarter again, I don’t have the answer, I don’t know. I tried to run some things we don’t normally run, tried to get them moving, we just struggled in the third quarter scoring and let them take the lead,” explained Carey. “third quarter we weren’t hitting shots and we let it affect our defense and we just can’t do that.”

West Virginia retook the lead in the fourth quarter on a Jayla Hemingway layup four minutes into the final quarter, 49-48. Morris hit a two-point jumper for the final West Virginia non-free throw basket of the night to give her team the 51-48 lead.

A slew of Mountaineers including Kari Niblack, Deans and Smith were then fouled later in the fourth and hit their free throws to finish off the Red Raiders and take the nine-point, 62-53 victory.

The Mountaineers will be back in action next week when they travel to Austin, Texas to take on the Longhorns on Saturday at 8 p.m. CT inside the Erwin Center with televising on the Longhorn Network.

Photo by Dale Sparks, All Pro Photography

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