Junior college transfer Naomi Davenport has been, perhaps, the find of the season for Mike Carey and his West Virginia women’s basketball team. And with the rest of her teammates still mired in an extended shooting slump, Davenport came through yet again for the Mountaineers, scoring 22 points as West Virginia (15-2, 3-2 Big 12) went on the road and knocked out the Kansas Jayhawks (11-5, 2-3 Big 12) 74-54 for the sixth straight time on Wednesday night.
Davenport yet again showcased her development as an inside-outside threat for the Mountaineers, dropping in a career-high four made 3-pointers, while also collecting six rebounds and snagging four steals as West Virginia pulled away in the third quarter.
Four of Davenport’s eight field goals were assisted by senior point guard Chania Ray, who made up for a 4-12 shooting night by dishing out 10 assists, matching a season high. Senior forward Teana Muldrow added 19 points and 9 rebounds, while junior shooting guard Katrina Pardee broke out of a recent funk with 15 points, her most since the Big 12 opener against TCU on December 28.
After a hard-fought home win over Iowa State on Sunday characterized by poor shooting and sloppy play, the first quarter in Lawrence’s fabled Allen Fieldhouse looked like much of the same. West Virginia led by the low score of 11-7 after a first quarter where the two teams shot a combined 7-33, and took a 9-point lead into halftime.
Kansas pulled to within 4 early in the third quarter, but the Mountaineers responded with a 14-1 run that all but put the game away. Ray teed up Davenport for a pair of big 3-pointers, while West Virginia capitalized on their opponents’ mistakes with 10 points off Kansas turnovers in the period.
As it was against Iowa State, the Mountaineers relied on their grit and hustle to stay ahead during periods where their shots weren’t falling. The Mountaineers outrebounded Kansas by 10, won the turnover battle by 4, and outpaced Kansas on second chance points (15-6) and points off turnovers (24-9).
Still recovering from several injuries to his reserves, head coach Mike Carey once again went with a short bench on Wednesday night. Carey doled out just eight minutes each to freshman guard Ashley Jones and junior center Theresa Ekhelar, with freshman guard Destiny Harden making a brief appearance at the very end of the game.
Four out of West Virginia’s five starters played at least 35 minutes, with Ray playing all 40. Senior forward Kristina King, in just her second game back from a hairline fracture in her foot, logged 32 minutes – and while she wasn’t fully back in the flow of things offensively, the versatile junior college transfer managed to pull down a game-high 12 rebounds.
After a pair of losses to Texas and Kansas State dropped the Mountaineers both from the ranks of the unbeaten and the national top 10, Carey’s squad has now rebounded with back-to-back wins. West Virginia will return home on Saturday to play a TCU team that Davenport torched for 32 points in an 87-82 road win in the Big 12 opener. Tip-off between the Mountaineers and the Horned Frogs is set for 5 p.m. Saturday at the WVU Coliseum.