MORGANTOWN — The leading scorer for the Mountaineer women’s basketball team wasn’t in the WVU Coliseum Saturday afternoon when West Virginia met Oklahoma State.
Instead, Kysre Gondrezick was hundreds of miles away going through what had to be one of the hardest days of her young life.
“I have to bury my dad today,” tweeted Gondrezick Saturday morning.
Kysre’s father, Grant Gondrezick, died Jan. 7 in his Michigan home at age 57. Kysre returned to her home in Benton Harbor, Michigan, this weekend to be with her family during the Saturday morning funeral service.
A few hours later, her teammates took to the Coliseum floor and won one for Kysre, as the Mountaineers overcame first half struggles but ultimately pulled past OSU 67-59.
The victory avenged one of just two losses West Virginia (10-2 overall, 4-2 Big 12) has suffered this season. The Mountaineers lost 78-73 at Oklahoma State in mid-December.
“I thought that was a big gut-check,” said West Virginia head coach Mike Carey after Saturday’s win. “I thought we seemed a little tired, though.”
WVU trailed by as many as 12 points in the third quarter.
“I’m very proud of the team. We could have easily folded,” Carey said. “They showed a lot of determination and came back and won the game. I’m very proud of them.”
Without Gondrezick, who is fourth in the Big 12 in scoring at 20.4 points per game, West Virginia’s offensive struggles were understandable. The Mountaineers made just 11 of 28 shots (39%) and had 12 turnovers in the first half.
After trailing 28-25 at the break, WVU was much more efficient in the second half, turning the ball over just six times in the final 20 minutes. In the fourth quarter, the Mountaineers made 7 of 11 shots, including 2 of 2 from 3-point range, and outscored OSU 24-14 in the period to pull away.
OSU outscored West Virginia 14-5 in the first four minutes of the third quarter to race out to a 42-30 lead. The home club immediately responded with an 11-0 run, though, to close the gap to 42-41 late in the third quarter.
Oklahoma State took a slim 45-43 lead into the fourth quarter, but the Mountaineers got hot in that final period to secure the win, improving their record to 11-10 all-time against OSU (9-4, 5-2).
“Initially we took some quick shots, but at the end of the day, we slowed down and played our game,” said West Virginia junior forward Kari Niblack, who had 14 points and five rebounds.
In the decisive fourth quarter, OSU was 4 of 11 from the floor (36%) and outrebounded by the Mountaineers 11-3.
WVU sophomore guard K.K. Deans led West Virginia in scoring with 18 points to go along with five assists.
West Virginia’s Madisen Smith checked in with 14 points and seven assists and Esmery Martinez had her ninth double-double of the season with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
Oklahoma State got 24 points from Ja’mee Asberry and 15 from Natasha Mack.
“I can’t imagine what she’s going through. We all hurt for her,” said Deans of Gondrezick. “I’m glad we got this win today, because I know that’s a relief for her. We all have our prayers for her and her family.”
“Ksyre has a great family, and she is a great young lady,” added Carey. “You just wish them the best, and send them our prayers. When she gets back, we’ll be here for her and help get her through this.”
West Virginia’s next scheduled game is Wednesday at home against Kansas State.