MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The West Virginia women repeated an all-too-familiar refrain against No. 24 Iowa State: Jump ahead early, fall behind late, suffer a disappointing loss.
Up by nine at intermission, WVU managed only 15 second-half points and fell 53-49 to the Cyclones on Saturday.
“In the second half you know the other team’s going to make a run, so you have to come out and match their energy, if not one-up them,” said the Mountaineers’ Ayana Dunning, who had 17 points and seven rebounds. “Even with the type of defense we play, 15 points in a half, it’s hard to win like that.”
“We’ve lost five game by a total of 12 points, and it’s frustrating because we’re right there.”
West Virginia (11-8, 3-5 Big 12) led 34-25 at the half only to lose another tight game. The Cyclones (14-4, 5-3 Big 12) outscored WVU 28-15 in the second half, with Nikki Moody and Hallie Christofferson combining for 18 points. Christofferson finished with a game-high 23 points.
“That is all we have talked about for three days now — executing and staying focused for 40 minutes,” WVU coach Mike Carey said. “Bad shots led to easy shots for them in transition. They didn’t have the 1-and-1 in the first half and in the second half, they were in it in 11 minutes. We just stood around and fouled. We were doing it on both ends.
“Standing on defense and standing on offense and holding the ball — you are just not going to win. In this league, you have to play for 40 minutes. We keep stressing that and we are just not doing it right now.”
WVU used a 16-3 run to build a 22-8 cushion before Iowa State responded with a 17-5 run to draw to within 27-25 game. Taylor Palmer capped a 7-0 run at the end of the half.
WVU shot 41.3 percent from the field (19-of-46), while Iowa State shot 39 percent (16-of-41).
Jess Harlee scored 13 points for WVU, but only two in the second half.
Iowa State dominated the Mountaineers on the boards 35-22. Chelsea Poppens and Moody each added 10 points and seven rebounds.
“I’m just glad that we get to play everybody twice (in the Big 12). We have the confidence that we can beat those teams. We’re letting little things beat us, whether it’s lack of concentration or not buckling down.”
WVU will close out the first half of Big 12 play as it visits Oklahoma State at 8 p.m. on Tuesday.