AUSTIN, Texas — West Virginia lost forward Jess Harlee to a first-half knee injury and suffered through its lowest-scoring game of the season in a 58-45 loss at Texas on Tuesday night.
The Mountaineers (17-12, 9-9 Big 12), in a regular-season finale that damaged their NCAA hopes, shot 31 percent from the field and made only 4-of-13 from the foul line.
As the No. 6 seed, WVU earned a bye in the opening round of the Big 12 tournament and will face No. 3-seeded Oklahoma on Saturday at 9:30 p.m. Eastern at the American Airlines Center in Dallas.
“First of all, we feel really bad about Jess Harlee. She is our energy,” said West Virginia coach Mike Carey. “She is our player with the most heart that gets our team going. We don’t know for sure what it is, but it doesn’t look good and we are worrying about her.”
West Virginia led Texas by six points early, but after Harlee was crumpled by a knee injury with 5:16 remaining in the half, the Longhorns went to the locker room leading 24-20.
Texas (12-17, 5-13 Big 12) led by only two points before a 12-2 run built a 50-38 lead with 7:56 left. The run started with five free throws and was capped by seven straight points from Empress Davenport. The Longhorns out-rebounded WVU 43-25.
“Give Texas credit,” Carey said. “They came out and punched us in the mouth and we just sat there and took it. In the second half, we cut it to two a couple of times, but we ended up fouling or giving up points in the paint. We didn’t box out and gave up three-point plays. It’s ridiculous, but give Texas all the credit.”
The Longhorns dominated the paint, earning 30 points in the lane and out-rebounding WVU 43-25. The Mountaineers shot 31.6 percent (18-57) for the game, while Texas made 45.5 percent (20-44) of its attempts from the field. WVU recorded 25 percent (5-20) of its shots from 3-point range, while the Longhorns made 2-of-6 (33.3%). Texas gained an advantage from the free throw line, converting 16-of-29 (55.2%) attempts, while WVU made 4-of-13 (30.8%) from the charity stripe.
WVU was ed by Taylor Palmer with 14 points and Christal Caldwell with 10 points.
Nneka Enemkpali led the Longhorns with 16 points and 15 rebounds, while Davenport scored 15 and Chassidy Fussell chipped in 12. Imani McGee-Stafford helped dominate the paint with five blocks and 12 rebounds.