STILLWATER, Okla. (Dec. 18, 2020) –The West Virginia University women’s basketball team (5-2, 0-2 Big 12) opened its Big 12 road slate on Friday evening, falling to Oklahoma State, 78-73, at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater.
With her fourth double-double of the season, sophomore forward Esmery Martinez posted 16 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Junior forward Kari Niblack also tallied a season-high 16 points and redshirt senior guard Kysre Gonrezick tallied 15. Sophomore guard Kirsten Deans (12) and junior guard Madisen Smith also reached double figures in the contest.
Niblack got the Mountaineers on the board with a baseline drive after a pair of shot attempts from both teams. West Virginia kept up the scoring with four points from Gondrezick and two more from Martinez, forcing Oklahoma State to call a timeout with 7:15 remaining in the first quarter. The Cowgirls came out of the break and quickly provided a response in the form of a 9-0 run that helped them take the lead midway through the first. Deans helped the Mountaineers reclaim the lead with a 3-pointer with just under two minutes to play in the period, but OSU responded with a triple of its own from freshman guard Lexy Keys. Martinez sank a jumper from the top of the arc
before with 20 seconds remaining, but the Cowgirls held a 21-16 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Following a pair of OSU scores, Martinez scored in the paint to open second-quarter scoring for the Mountaineers. Deans then scored to cut Oklahoma State’s lead to five points with six minutes remaining in the frame. The Cowgirls answered with a pair of scores in transition to extend their advantage to nine points. Smith then ended WVU’s scoring drought with a baseline drive, but OSU’s redshirt junior guard Ja’Mee Asberry sank a 3-pointer to help the Cowgirls go up by 10. Gondrezick and Niblack both scored before the end of the half, but Oklahoma State led 35-28 at the break.
Niblack scored the first five points of the second half for the Mountaineers, but Oklahoma State put a pair of scores on the board to hold a six-point lead. Gondrezick then converted from 3-point range to pull WVU within three with just over seven minutes remaining in the quarter. WVU could only muster one score from Martinez over the next three minutes, while Oklahoma State added 10 points and forced the Mountaineers to call timeout with 4:39 remaining in the third quarter. Senior center Blessing Ejiofor silenced the Cowgirls’ scoring run with a jumper from the wing and Martinez followed up with a transition score off a steal to cut OSU’s lead to seven points. Both teams continued to trade baskets over the final four minutes of the quarter. West Virginia trailed, 58-49, heading into the fourth.
The Mountaineers once again traded scores with Oklahoma State to begin the final quarter. A 3-pointer by Gondrezick cut the Cowgirls’ lead back to single digits with just under seven minutes to play, before Smith converted a triple of her own. OSU converted a pair of scores and led by eight at the final media timeout. Deans and Martinez cut Oklahoma State’s lead to three with 1:14 remaining, but West Virginia could not overcome the deficit and Oklahoma State took the victory.
The Mountaineers shot 30-of-60 (50%) from the field, including 6-14 (42.9%) from the 3-point range. WVU was 7-of-8 (87.5%) from the free-throw line. The Cowgirls held the advantage in assists, 23-13, while shooting 29-of-52 (55.8%) from the floor and 7-of-11 (63.6%) beyond the arc.
The Mountaineers return to Morgantown on Monday, Dec. 21, as West Virginia gets set to host Ohio. Tip-off against the Bobcats is set for 2 p.m. ET at the WVU Coliseum. Monday’s game will be broadcast on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.
Press Release Credit: WVU Athletics Communications
Photo Credit: Russell Luna