The West Virginia women’s basketball team flipped the script from Monday and took care of Michigan State on Tuesday in their second game of the West Palm Beach Invitational, 74-54.
Mountaineer junior forward Esmery Martinez was the only West Virginia scorer to finish the game in double figures with 21 points while the next leading scorer was junior guard Jayla Hemingway’s nine points.
The Mountaineers and Spartans kept pace with each other for the majority of the first quarter as West Virginia senior forward Kari Niblack posted the first points of the day on a driving layup for the quick 2-0 advantage. That was followed up by a Spartan senior guard Nia Clouden two-point jumper.
Several three pointers off the fingers of Hemingway and Martinez gave West Virginia the four-point lead halfway through the first quarter, 10-6. That was before the Spartans retaliated with a couple threes from freshman guard Deedee Hagemann and freshman forward Matilda Ekh to take the six-point advantage heading to the second quarter, 18-12.
West Virginia began the second quarter on a 6-0 scoring run behind a couple layups from Martinez as well as a layup from Hemingway to knot the ballgame at 18-18 two minutes into the quarter. Senior guard Jasmine Carson’s three and a fifth year forward Ari Gray layup then extended the Mountaineer advantage to five points halfway through the second, 25-20.
Another Gray two-pointer made it a six-point ballgame with two minutes remaining before halftime while Clouden then hit six free throws before heading to the locker room to bring the West Virginia lead margin within two points at halftime, 31-29.
West Virginia came out balling in the second half going on a 14-2 scoring run out of the locker room and quickly stretching their lead to double figures. Four minutes into the third quarter, junior guard Kirsten Deans knocked down a two-point jumper to extend the Mountaineer advantage to 10 points, 41-31.
Seconds later, Martinez went up for a layup for the 13-point lead which followed a layup and two-point jumper earlier in the third quarter for the Mountaineer forward. With three minutes remaining before the fourth quarter, Martinez then hit a couple free throws to give herself 15 points in three quarters and stretch the West Virginia advantage to 14 points, 47-33.
Mountaineer sophomore guard Savannah Samuel found the basket in the fourth quarter hitting a two-point jumper three minutes into the quarter to take the 13-point lead, 56-43. That was before Samuel hit a three a minute later to extend the West Virginia lead to 61-45.
Morris then drove in for a layup halfway through the fourth before going up for another layup a minute later and a couple free throws with three minutes left in regulation for the 17-point lead, 67-50. Carson then drained a three with two minutes left in regulation for the 20-point lead which stayed that way until the clock struck zero for the 74-54 final score.
The Mountaineers will now have Christmas off before coming home to Morgantown next Wednesday, December 29 to host Maryland Eastern Shore at 7 p.m. on ESPN+.