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WVU women hold off TCU in final home game

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia University women’s basketball team defeated TCU, 81-78, at the WVU Coliseum in Morgantown on Saturday.

The No. 19/24 Mountaineers (17-3, 11-3 Big 12) were led by sophomore forward Esmery Martinez who posted her 11th double-double of the season, with a team-high 21 points and 12 rebounds.

She was followed by four double-figure performances from sophomore guard Kirsten Deans (15 points), redshirt senior guard Kysre Gondrezick (14 points), junior guard Jasmine Carson (12 points) and junior forward Karri Niblack (11 points).

The Mountaineers led by as many as 14 points in the game and outscored the Horned Frogs in the first and third quarters, while holding the advantage for 31:19.

“That was a gut check,” WVU coach Mike Carey said. “I give the girls that were on the floor at the end a lot of credit. It just seemed like we kept losing a player, and we were able to pull out the win. So, that was good to see. I haven’t been with the trainer or the doctor yet. I do not know where we are at with all the players, but we’ll find out.”

WVU opened the game in scoring with a jumper from Martinez, but TCU answered back with one of their own. The teams continued to trade baskets early in the game, but the Horned Frogs jumped out to a 6-0 run to lead by five with six minutes remaining in the first quarter. Deans answered back with a 3-pointer, but TCU countered with a triple of its own. The teams traded baskets in the middle of the frame until TCU tacked on five points with three minutes remaining in the quarter.

West Virginia then ripped off a 13-0 run to end the first quarter, beginning with a 3-pointer from Gondrezick. Niblack then followed up with a layup in the paint to cut the Horned Frogs’ lead to three. Martinez and Niblack continued the offensive attack with a pair of layups to give WVU the lead with one minute remaining in the quarter. Gondrezick hit a pair of free throws, and Carson made a layup to put the Mountaineers up by five at the end of the quarter.

TCU began the second with a score from guard Tavy Diggs, but Deans responded with a layup on the other end. The Horned Frogs then hit a pair of free throws to cut into the Mountaineer lead. Aja Holmes continued to help TCU convert at the line with three more free throws that cut WVU’s lead to one. The Horned Frogs then took the lead with a second-chance layup from Heard.

WVU ripped off another run, scoring nine unanswered points beginning at the 5:16 mark of the second. Deans began the offensive attack with a pair at the charity stripe. Martinez and Gondrezick then extended the Mountaineers’ lead to five with a pair of layups. Gondrezick hit a triple to put WVU up by eight with 3:58 to go in the half, but the Horned Frogs came back with a layup and a 3 with three minutes remaining.

The Horned Frogs tied the game, but Gondrezick came back with a layup before Deans sank a jumper with just over a minute to play in the quarter. Heard tacked on one more for TCU, but Niblack tallied a layup going into the half, as WVU held a 42-38 lead.

Coming out of the locker room, WVU continued to extend its lead with a layup from Niblack and a jumper from Martinez. Following a pair of TCU free throws, Carson sank a 3-pointer to give WVU a nine-point lead. Martinez tacked on another triple and junior guard Madisen Smith netted a bucket of her own to extend WVU’s lead to 14 points, its largest of the game.

The Horned Frogs then went on an 11-2 scoring run to cut the Mountaineers lead to five with under four minutes to go in the quarter.

TCU’s Michelle Berry netted a 3-pointer for the Horned Frogs to open the final frame. Niblack opened the scoring for the Mountaineers with a layup off a TCU turnover, but Berry answered back with another 3. A foul on the Horned Frogs gave Martinez a pair of free throws to keep WVU’s lead at three points.

A pair of free throws for TCU cut West Virginia’s lead to one halfway through the quarter. Carson made a layup and senior center Blessing Ejiofor made a jumper to extend the Mountaineer lead. Carson then netted a 3-ball, but TCU struck back with a jumper in the paint. Deans made a layup, but TCU continued to hang around with another score in the paint. Hemingway and Deans netted three free throws to ultimately secure the 81-78 victory for the Mountaineers.