MANHATTAN, Kan. – The No. 19/21 West Virginia University women’s basketball team earned its first win of the 2020 Big 12 season on Sunday afternoon, as the Mountaineers defeated Kansas State 74-63 at Bramlage Coliseum in Manhattan.
“First of all, give Kansas State credit,” WVU coach Mike Carey said. “They came back. They’ll play hard. (Kansas State coach) Jeff (Mittie) has them playing hard for 40 minutes, so it didn’t surprise me. We gave up one offensive rebound in the first half and, I think, six in the second half. We just weren’t moving and weren’t playing defense. So, I’m a little disappointed in our second half, but we were able to hang on and win.”
West Virginia (11-1, 1-0 Big 12) was led by a career-high 24 points from redshirt junior guard Kysre Gondrezick, as she was one of three Mountaineers to finish in double-figure scoring. Redshirt senior guard Tynice Martin and sophomore guard Madisen Smith score 18 points and 15 points, respectively. For the second consecutive game, freshman forward Esmery Martinez led WVU on the glass, chipping in seven rebounds. Gondrezick also tied her career high in assists, with eight.
With her 18 points against the Wildcats, Martin now has 1,744 career points and passed Kate Bulger (2001-04; 1,733 points) for No. 6 on WVU’s all-time scorers’ list. She now needs nine points to pass Talisha Hargis (1995-98; 1,751 points) for No. 5 on the all-time scorers’ list.
After WVU won the opening tip, Kansas State took an early lead over the Mountaineers, but Martin responded with a jump shot in the lane to tie the game. Sophomore guard Madisen Smith then hit a 3-pointer from the wing to give West Virginia its first lead of the game. A fast-break layup and a trio of free throws helped the Wildcats retake the lead, but Martin put the Mountaineers back on top with a trey from the wing. Redshirt junior guard Kysre Gondrezick added a layup just before the midway point of the first quarter, as WVU headed to the first media timeout with a 10-9 lead.
Freshman guard Kirsten Deans paced the Mountaineer offense coming out of the media timeout. Deans converted on a fast-break layup, a jumper from the wing and a 3-pointer from the corner help WVU jump out to a seven-point lead. K-State responded with a trey of their own, but Deans struck again from downtown in the final seconds of the first quarter.
Martin scored on a fast break to open the second quarter, before Smith added a layup to give WVU an 11-point and force Kansas State to call a timeout with 7:39 remaining in the first half. The Wildcats scored quickly coming out of the break, but Gondrezick responded with a pair of scores to extend the Mountaineers’ lead to 13. K-State scored the next four points to cut the lead back to single digits. Gondrezick and Martin drained a pair of 3-pointers just before the half, as West Virginia led Kansas State by 13 at the half.
WVU started the second half with strong fashion, as Martin struck from behind the arc just eight seconds into the third quarter. K-State responded with a pair of scores from Jasauen Beard, but Gondrezick kept the Wildcats at bay with a 3-pointer. Gondrezick scored twice more from downtown went into the third-quarter media timeout with an 18-point lead.
Kansas State responded with a pair of scores coming out of the timeout, but Martin countered with a jumper in the lane. The Wildcats closed the gap over the final five minutes of the third by adding 11 points, but a score from sophomore forward Kari Niblack and four Mountaineer free throws kept WVU’s advantage at 11 to start the final quarter.
Niblack and Smith scored in the paint to stretch get WVU’s lead to 15, but K-State continued to hang around in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter. KSU continued to cut into the deficit, before Smith suppressed the Wildcat scoring run with back-to-back 3-pointers. The Mountaineers led by 17 with 4:23 remaining in the game and did not score again until 52 seconds remained in the fourth, when freshman forward Esmery Martinez added a layup to secure the Mountaineer’s 11th victory of the season.
West Virginia finished shooting 28-of-65 (43.1%) from the field, including 10-of-28 (35.7%) from 3-point range. WVU’s 10 made 3-pointers tied its season high. The Mountaineers outrebounded the Wildcats 36-32 and forced 18 KSU turnovers. WVU assisted on 19 of its 28 made field goals.
Kansas State shot 24-of-55 (43.6%) and 1-of-15 (6.7%) from beyond the arc. Angela Harris led the KSU scoring effort, with 16 points, and was one of four Wildcats to finish in double figures. Peyton Williams led Kansas State in rebounding, with 10.
West Virginia next competes on Wednesday, Jan. 8, as the Mountaineers travel to Lawrence, Kansas, for a matchup against Kansas. Opening tip is set for 8 p.m. ET from Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence. Wednesday’s contest will be broadcast on Big 12 Now on ESPN+. For more information on Big 12 Now on ESPN+, please visit WVUsports.com/big12now.