University of Texas athletics

Texas center Nekia Jones puts up a shot against West Virginia’s Asya Bussie and Crystal Leary on Saturday. The Longhorns upset WVU 66-63.

 

AUSTIN, Texas — Nneka Enemkpali scored 15 points, grabbed a conference-high 21 rebounds and blocked the potential tying shot in the final 21 seconds, helping Texas turn back No. 18 West Virginia 66-63 on Saturday.

While the Mountaineers (17-3, 6-2) erased a seven-point halftime deficit to lead by five with 9:08 to play, Texas (13-6, 4-3) remained unbeaten on its home floor and WVU dropped its first road game this season.

“We stood around and it cost us down the stretch,” said West Virginia coach Mike Carey. “We took some bad shots.”

And Enemkpali was there to collect the misses, with 18 defensive rebounds.

“She has to deal at times with how to play through the game with the motor and intensity she has without fouling,” said Texas coach Karon Aston. “Toward the end of the game, I think she realized she wasn’t in foul trouble, and she was able to let herself go and play aggressively, which is when she is at her best.”

Carey certainly thought Enemkpali made the difference, considering the Longhorns outrebounded West Virginia 46-27.

“(Enemkpali) played hard. She plays as hard as anyone I’ve seen in the Big 12,” Carey said. “She was all over the place. We had a couple down the stretch where we had her beat going in for the layup and she blocked us from behind, so give her a lot of credit. She plays really, really hard.”

After Enemkpali’s blocked shot preserved a 65-63 lead, she grabbed the rebound and was fouled. She hit 1-of-2 free throws before WVU’s Bria Holmes missed a contested 3 in the final seconds.

“We tried to set up a flare for Bria Holmes,” Carey said. “They switched out for the person who set the pick for the flare and Bria did get a good look. It went in and out.”

Holmes led all players with 18 points and three steals, while Averee Fields had 12 points, eight rebounds, six assists and four steals for West Virginia.

Yet Texas made a crucial 9-1 run to go up 65-62 at the 2:50 mark, erasing WVU’s. The Mountaineers missed five field goal attempts and a pair of free throw attempts over the final 2:26.

WVU shot 40.7 percent from the field and just 4-of-14 from from 3-point range. The Mountaineers also left points at the foul line by going 11-of-18). Texas shot 42.9 percent overall and made 14-of-19 at the free-throw line.

WVU seniors Christal Caldwell and Asya Bussie played limited minutes due to foul trouble in the opening half. Bussie finished the game with nine points, while Caldwell chipped in eight.

Texas got 14 points from Brady Sanders and 11 points from Nekia Jones.

WVU returns home for a 7 p.m. matchup Wednesday against Iowa State at the WVU Coliseum.

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