The West Virginia women’s basketball team outlasted Charlotte on Tuesday night inside the Coliseum, winning, 65-54.
Junior guard KK Deans finished the night as the leading Mountaineer scorer with 20 points, while senior guard Madisen Smith also recorded double digits with 11 points.
Charlotte was led by redshirt senior guard Mikayla Boykin’s 13 points and freshman forward Mya McGraw’s 10 points.
“She showed a lot of guts, she had a bad sprained ankle coming out of the Kentucky game and didn’t practice two days and had a bunch of rehab so she gutted it out,” WVU head coach Mike Carey said of Deans. “We just forced things inside, we dribbled too much on the perimeter, we don’t reverse the ball and those are things we’ve got to get better at if we’re going to be good on offense,” explained Carey.
The Mountaineers got on the board first on the night on a pair of senior forward Kari Niblack free throws, before fifth-year forward Keke McKinney put Charlotte ahead less than a minute later, 3-2. Fifth-year forward Ari Gray put up a layup to make it a one-point ballgame halfway through the first, but Charlotte remained with the lead following a Kameron Roach two-point jumper for the 9-6 advantage.
Before West Virginia headed to the second quarter, freshman guard JJ Quinerly sank a free throw and a two-pointer to give the Mountaineers a 15-13 lead to end the first quarter.
The Mountaineers began to pull away with the lead in the second quarter beginning on a Quinerly three-pointer a minute into the second quarter for the 18-15 lead. West Virginia then went on a 10-point run through the next four minutes to take the double-digit lead, 28-17.
“My philosophy is coach puts you in there, go in there and make him want to keep you in there. Do things the right way so that coach wants to keep you in there, if you don’t do things the right way then you’re probably going to come out. I don’t determine playing time, they do,” said Carey.
The second half of the second quarter was a different story for Charlotte as they outscored West Virginia 12-3 and cutting the Mountaineer lead to three points heading to the locker room, 31-29. The run was sparked by a couple free throws off the fingers of fifth-year guard Octavia Jett-Wilson and sophomore guard Jacee Busick.
The Mountaineers came out of the gates strong again in the second half on a 6-0 run on a few two-pointers with the first of them coming from junior forward Esmery Martinez. Gray then put West Virginia ahead by double digits with three minutes left before the fourth quarter on a fast break layup, 43-33.
Charlotte then dropped in a trio of layups before the fourth quarter with two of them coming off the fingers of freshman forward Mya McGraw to cut the West Virginia lead heading to the fourth, 45-39.
“We were out of sync, a couple of times we had people in there and running a quick hitter and they forgot to play which created a turnover,” said Carey. “A couple times we had the ball and kept dribbling it wasn’t their fault, we messed up the quick-hitter,” Carey said.
Following a Boykin jumper for Charlotte’s scorer, Smith struck with a three-pointer for the West Virginia eight point lead a couple minutes into the fourth, 48-42. The Mountaineers went on a 12-7 run through the next four minutes of the final quarter for the 11-point lead, 60-49.
Smith then put the ballgame away with some free throws in the final minute of regulation as well as a couple Deans free throws for the 65-54 Mountaineer victory.
The Mountaineers will now head to Harrisonburg, Virginia on Sunday, December 12 to face off against JMU at 2 p.m.
Photo by Dale Sparks, All Pro Photography