MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (Dec. 6, 2020) – The West Virginia University women’s basketball team picked up its fourth win of the season after defeating Tennessee, 79-73, in the Big 12/SEC Challenge on Sunday evening, at the WVU Coliseum, in Morgantown.
Sunday’s victory against the Lady Volunteers was the first overtime game for West Virginia since Feb. 17, 2018, against Oklahoma, in Morgantown. The Mountaineers are now 32-26 all-time in overtime games, including 16-10 at home.
Redshirt senior guard Kysre Gondrezick once again led the Mountaineers in scoring, with a career-high 27 points. Junior guard Madisen Smith tallied a season-high 16 points. Sophomore guard Kirsten Deans finished in double figures for the third time this season, with 11 points. Junior forward Kari Niblack also tallied 11 points in the victory, while sophomore forward Esmery Martinez posted 10 points.
Martinez got the Mountaineers on the board first with a foul shot at the nine-minute mark of the first quarter. Gondrezick added a layup before Tennessee got on the board. Martinez then added a 3-pointer at the 6:43 mark. Niblack ended the scoring drought with a jumper in the paint to hold WVU’s lead at the 3:17 mark. Gondrezick added a pair of scores with a jumper and a 3-pointer to extend the Mountaineer’s lead finish the first quarter with 11 points. WVU ended the frame with a 17-15 lead over Tennessee.
Smith hit a triple to stretch the Mountaineer lead to begin the second quarter. Tennessee then took the lead for the first time in the game with a pair of layups and a 3-pointer with eight minutes remaining in the first half. The teams traded baskets during the middle of the quarter before Niblack tied up the score with a driving layup. Tennessee then answered with a score at the 3:57 mark of the second. Gondrezick took back WVU’s lead with a driving layup and a free throw following a turnover by the Lady Vols. A pair of free throws from Niblack gave WVU a 3-point advantage heading into halftime.
Tennessee opened the third quarter with a score before Gondrezick answered with a layup of her own. Smith hit a 3-pointer off a fast break to extend WVU’s lead at the 7:08 mark. WVU continued to score from deep with a triple from Deans, and redshirt sophomore center Rochelle Norris added a pair at the charity stripe with three minutes remaining in the quarter. The Mountaineers held a 51- 45 lead over the Lady Volunteers heading into the final frame.
A layup from Tennessee opened the final quarter, but West Virginia struck back quickly with a driving score from Martinez at the 8:53 mark and a triple from Gondrezick at the 7:34 mark. The Lady Volunteers responded with a trio of free throws and a layup, but the Mountaineers held the lead within the first five minutes of the quarter. Gondrezick scored her third 3-pointer of the game with just over six minutes remaining in regulation. Tennessee took the lead with just under five minutes to go in the game, but a 3-pointer from Smith and layup from Deans helped West Virginia tie the game with 12 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. At the end of regulation, WVU and Tennessee were tied at 66.
Tennessee scored the first points of the overtime period, but Gondrezick responded with a jumper and Smith sank her third triple of the game to retake the lead. Gondrezick extended the Mountaineers lead with a driving layup with just under two minutes left in the game, giving her a career-high 27 points. Sophomore guard Jayla Hemingway, Deans and Smith each made a pair of free throws over the final minute to extend WVU’s lead and help the Mountaineers secure to their fourth win of the season.
The Mountaineers shot 25-of-63 (39.7%) from the field, including 9-of-24 (37.5%) from the 3-point range. WVU was 20-of-30 (66.7%) from the free-throw line, compared to Tennessee’s 11-of-15 (73.3%). West Virginia held the advantage in assists, 18-15. The Lady Volunteers out-rebounded the Mountaineers, 56-34.
West Virginia next competes on Thursday, Dec. 10, as the Mountaineers host Baylor for their 2020-21 Big 12 opener at the WVU Coliseum, in Morgantown. Opening tip against the Lady Bears is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET, on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.
Press Release: WVU Athletics Communications
Photo Credit: Dale Sparks