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West Virginia Opens Big 12 Tournament on Friday

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (March 11, 2021) – The No. 17/20-ranked West Virginia University women’s basketball team opens postseason play on Friday, March 12, as the Mountaineers begin tournament action at the 2021 Phillips 66 Big 12 Women’s Basketball Championship in Kansas City.

The No. 2-seed Mountaineers’ quarterfinals matchup will pit them against the winner of the first-round contest between No. 7-seed Texas Tech and No. 10-seed Kansas State. Opening tip for Friday’s game is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. ET, at Municipal Auditorium in downtown Kansas City. Dan Zangrilli will call the game for the Mountaineer Sports Network from Learfield IMG College. The game can be found on 100.9 FM, as well as affiliates across the state, the TuneIn Radio App and Friday’s contest also will be broadcast on Big 12 Now on ESPN+, with Chuckie Kempf and Brenda VanLengen on the call. Live stats and game notes for tomorrow’s game will be available on following the conclusion of tonight’s game between Texas Tech and Kansas State.

West Virginia (19-5, 13-5 Big 12) swept this year’s regular-season series against Texas Tech (10-14, 5-13 Big 12). The Mountaineers picked up their first win over the Lady Raiders on Jan. 13, at the WVU Coliseum in Morgantown, by a score of 83-78. Three WVU players finished in double figures in the first meeting, including redshirt senior guard Kysre Gondrezick, who scored a team-best 19 points. Sophomore forward Esmery Martinez led West Virginia on the glass, with 15 rebounds, and netted 18 points to tally the double-double.

WVU completed the season sweep of TTU on Jan. 27, defeating the Lady Raiders, 73-53, at United Supermarkets Arena in Lubbock, Texas. Gondrezick once again led West Virginia’s scoring effort against Texas Tech, with 24 points, and sank 4-of-5 attempts from 3-point range in the game. Junior forward Kari Niblack led the Mountaineers in rebounding, with 10.

Texas Tech is currently riding a two-game losing streak and is coming off an 88-79 loss at Oklahoma on March 1, to conclude its regular season. The Lady Raiders are led by senior guard Vivian Gray, who currently leads the team in points (20.0), rebounds (8.2), blocks (1.6) and steals (1.4) per game this season. A member of the 2021 All-Big 12 First Team, Gray also leads the team in field goals made (171) and free throws made (122). 

TTU is coached by Krista Gerlich, who is in her first season with the team. During 15 seasons of coaching, she has amassed a career record of 299-161.

The Mountaineers also swept the regular-season series against Kansas State (8-17, 3-15 Big 12) this year. WVU got its first win over K-State on Jan. 20, at the WVU Coliseum. The Mountaineers trailed by 12 points with 4:36 remaining in the game but used a 21-0, fourth-quarter rally to defeat the Wildcats, 65-56. Niblack (23) and Gondrezick (22) both tallied 20-point games in the victory, while Martinez paced WVU with eight rebounds.

West Virginia picked up its second win over KSU on March 3, at Bramlage Coliseum in Manhattan, Kansas, by a score of 72-64. Martinez led the Mountaineers with a career-high 23 points and 12 rebounds, while Gondrezick (14), sophomore guard Kirsten Deans (13) and junior guard Jasmine Carson (11) all finished in double figures.

Kansas State has dropped three of its last four games dating back to Feb. 27, at Baylor, 85-49. K-State’s most recent win came on March 1, a 79-76, overtime win over TCU in Manhattan. KSU is led by sophomore center Ayoka Lee, who leads the Wildcats in points (19.4), rebounds (8.5) and blocks (1.7) per game. A 2021 All-Big 12 First Team selection, Lee also is shooting a team-best 62.5% from the floor this season and 80.3% from the free throw line.

Kansas State is coached by Jeff Mittie, who owns a record of 124-96 during his seven seasons in Manhattan. During 29 seasons as a head coach, Mittie has a career mark of 578-331.

West Virginia is coming off its best regular season in the Big 12 Conference since 2013-14, when the Mountaineers won 16 league games to help them claim a share of the regular-season title. Earlier this week, four student-athletes were named to the 2021 All-Big 12 team, including Gondrezick, who became the first unanimous selection for WVU since Tynice Martin in 2019.

Martinez also was named to this year’s All-Big 12 First Team, as West Virginia was the only team in the league to place two student-athletes on the first team. Asya Bussie and Bria Holmes were the last Mountaineer duo to be named to the All-Big 12 First Team in 2014. Of note, Deans and Niblack earned honorable mention status on this year’s All-Big 12 squad.

Press Release Courtesy of West Virginia University Athletics Communications

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