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Niblack returns, leads WVU past Oklahoma State

West Virginia beat the Oklahoma State Cowgirls on Sunday, securing their second-straight win by a score of 60-56.

Senior Kari Niblack returned to the lineup after suffering a concussion against Texas. She had success on both sides of the court, finishing with five blocks and leading the Mountaineers in scoring with 15 points.

Esmery was a force to be reckoned with on the boards, as by the end of the third quarter, she had already secured her eighth double-double. She finished with 12 points and 14 rebounds.

WVU played a physical first quarter that consisted of four lead changes and three ties. Niblack had three blocks and led the Mountaineers in first-quarter scoring with eight points. After a pair of Jayla Hemingway free throws with just over 30 seconds left, the Mountaineers were able to force a shot clock violation on Oklahoma State, giving them a 13-11 lead going into the 2nd quarter.

Oklahoma State started to gain traction in the second quarter as WVU struggled to finish at the rim. Oklahoma made four out of their seven three-pointers in the second quarter. WVU Coach Mike Carey called a timeout at 6:28 after a 6-0 Oklahoma State run that put the Mountaineers down 17-22. WVU answered with a Madisen Smith three-pointer to cut the lead to 20-22.

Even as Oklahoma State had success beyond the arc, WVU was able to keep up.

After being tied at 28, a JJ Quinerly three-pointer gave the Mountaineers a 31-28 lead with one minute left in the half. Quinerly caused a jump-ball with Oklahoma State’s Micah Dennis, giving WVU the ball with five seconds before halftime.

With their closing possession, Savannah Samuel made a three-pointer while being fouled to put the Mountaineers up 34-28 with under one second in the 2nd quarter. That is where the score remained at halftime, as Samuel could not convert the free throw.

Both teams struggled to gain traction at the start of the 3rd quarter. With an official timeout at the five-minute mark, both teams had only scored four points each, making the score 38-32.

Right out of the TV timeout, Niblack went 1-2 from the foul line off of a foul by Kassidy De Lapp. The two teams went back and forth with layups resulting in the score being 43-36. Oklahoma stopped a over three minute scoring drought with a Macie James free throw. On the other end, Martinez went 1-2 from the free throw line, making the score 46-37.

Oklahoma State started the fourth quarter by scoring their first three-pointer of the second half followed by a Macie Winchester layup, cutting the WVU lead to four. After Oklahoma State closed the gap, Lexy Keys gave Oklahoma State their first lead since… with a mid-range jumper at the 4:17 mark.

WVU took the lead right back with a Niblack layup, moving the score to 52-51. Hemingway made a free throw, giving WVU a two-point lead just before Mike Carey called a timeout.

Niblack extended the lead to four points at the 2:00 mark with a layup off of an assist by Martinez. At 1:25, Smith scored a jump-shot, making the score 57-51. A layup by Keys at 1:02 cut it to four, with an Oklahoma State timeout shortly following.

Madisen Smith fouled out with 30 seconds left, putting Taylen Collins at the line and Oklahoma State in bonus. Collins made both free throws, cutting the WVU lead to two. After Oklahoma State called their last timeout, Hemingway made a risky layup, putting the lead back at four. On the other end, Niblack fouled Keys, sending her to the line, where she made one free throw. Oklahoma State was forced to foul with eight seconds left. This put Quinerly at the foul line where she went 1-2, icing the game with a final score of 60-56.

Photo by Dale Sparks, All Pro Photography

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