MANHATTAN, Kan. (March 3, 2021) – The No. 20/23-ranked West Virginia University women’s basketball team (19-4, 13-4 Big 12) earned its second-consecutive road victory with a 72-64 win over Kansas State inside Bramlage Coliseum, in Manhattan, Kansas, on Wednesday.
With their 13th conference win, the Mountaineers now have the most Big 12, regular-season wins since the 2013-14 season when the team notched 16 league victories.
Sophomore forward Esmery Martinez once again led West Virgina’s offensive efforts, tying a career high with 23 points. She also recorded her 13th double-double of the season, grabbing 12 rebounds on the night. Three other Mountaineers scored in double figures on Wednesday, as redshirt senior Kysre Gondrezick (14), sophomore guard Kirsten Deans (13) and junior guard Jasmine Carson (11) also reached the 10-point threshold.
Martinez opened the game by scoring a pair of jumpers from the top of the key. Kansas State then put themselves in the scoring column with a score from Ayoka Lee before adding another to tie the game. The two then traded 3-pointers before the first-quarter media timeout, as West Virginia led by three at the break. WVU sank three consecutive triples before the timeout.
West Virginia netted another six points after the break, beginning with a pair of free throws from Gondrezick. Senior center Blessing Ejiofor then sank a baseline jumper and Martinez converted a steal-and-score, forcing the Wildcats to call a timeout.
K-State then went on the attack and ripped off a 10-0 run that helped them take the lead with 49 seconds to go in the period. Martinez then scored off a drive from the wing to reclaim the advantage at the end of the first quarter.
The Mountaineers began the second quarter on a 6-0 run, jumping out to an eight-point lead in the first three minutes, as Carson, Martinez and Deans all scored. West Virginia held K-State to just a pair of free throws over the first five minutes of the period and led the Wildcats, 28-22, with 4:53 remaining in the half.
After Carson netted her third 3-pointer of the ball game, Kansas State sank two triples of its own to cut WVU’s lead to three points. The two teams battled back-and-forth over the three minutes, before Gondrezick and sophomore guard Jayla Hemingway converted two more 3s as the first half came to a close. West Virginia led Kansas State, 41-32, after the second quarter.
Coming out of the locker room, WVU scored four unanswered points and jumped out to a 13-point lead to begin the second half, forcing K-State to call timeout. The Wildcats netted five points after the break to trim the Mountaineer lead to single digits, but Deans fired right back with a 3-pointer to retake a double-figure lead just before the third media timeout.
Kansas State once again went on the offensive attack after the break. Behind eight points from Lee, the Wildcats cut West Virginia’s lead all the way down to two points with just 24 seconds remaining in the third quarter. Niblack netted a pair at the line with three seconds remaining to help WVU take a four-point lead into the final quarter.
The Wildcats continued to attack to begin the fourth and took a one-point advantage after sinking a 3-pointer and adding a score in the paint. West Virginia then provided the response with a score from Gondrezick and a triple from Martinez to reclaim the advantage. Niblack added three at the line to give WVU a seven-point lead with 5:57 remaining in the game.
With less than five minutes remaining in the contest, KSU put up a fight and connected on consecutive baskets, but the Mountaineers responded with buckets of their own at the other end to hold on to the five-point advantage. When a defensive battle ensued, Gondrezick once again sealed the contest for West Virginia, draining a 3-pointer from the corner to send WVU home with the 72-64 victory.
The Mountaineers finished the game shooting an even 50% (27-of-54) from the field, while hitting 10-of-19 (52.6%) from beyond the arc. The Wildcats went 25-of-63 (39.7) from the floor and 7-of-22 (31.8%) from 3-point range. Kansas State just edged West Virginia in rebounds (35-34), but WVU held the advantage defensively, grabbing 26 defensive rebounds to KSU’s 22. The Mountaineers forced 14 Wildcat turnovers, outscoring KSU 12-1 on fast-break opportunities.
Next up, West Virginia travels to Waco, Texas, on Monday, March 8, for its regular-season finale at Baylor. Opening tip from the Ferrell Center is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET. Monday’s game against the Lady Bears will be broadcast on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.
Press Release Credit: WVU Athletics Communications
Photo Credit: Scott Weaver