MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Bria Holmes’ 16 points and Asya Bussie’s fifth double-double of the season were crucial as the No. 20 West Virginia women slogged through a 67-56 win over No. 23 Iowa State on Wednesday.
West Virginia (18-3, 7-2) remained in second place in the Big 12 and improved to 3-1 against ranked opponents, including a season sweep of the Cyclones (15-5, 4-5). Yet coach Mike Carey described his Mountaineers as “the flattest I’ve seen us all year.”
Leading by 24 early in the second half, WVU grew stagnant and saw Iowa State pull to within 58-50 with six minutes left. But a basket by Cristal Caldwell made it a double-digit lead again and Brooke Hampton scored all five of her points in a two-minute span during WVU’s 9-1 run, sending Iowa State to its fifth loss in six games.
The Mountaineers shot 40 percent overall but made only 9-of-34 shots (26 percent) in the second half.
“We settled for 3s when we got the big lead—we stood around, wouldn’t reverse the ball, took bad shots,” Carey said. “We did everything we could to let them back in the game, and that’s what happened.
“I just didn’t believe we didn’t come out and play hard. These seniors need to realize they’ve got nine games left in their career, so they should never let this happen. We’ve got nine games left and we’re trying to do something special.”
One of those seniors, Bussie finished with 14 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks, but she sensed her team lacking energy at times.
“I thought we did come out really slow in the second half and that hurt us,” Bussie said. “I do think it’s my job to make sure the team’s ready to play every game.”
Iowa State was cold, shooting 28 percent in its second-lowest scoring output of the season. Only Hallie Christofferson’s 20-point night stood out, though the forward was 5-of-13 shooting and saddled with first-half foul trouble when WVU pulled away.
The Mountaineers used a 14-0 run over the final 3:21 of the first half to take a 42-21 lead into halftime. Holmes scored 13 in the firt half, going 5-for-5.
“We started defending, rebounding and running—that’s what we had to do,” Carey said. “Luckily we had the 10-minute stretch or we wouldn’t have won this game.”
The margin swelled to 47-23 with 17:45 remaining before Iowa State responded with its own 21-6 run.
“The defensive mistakes we made in the first half really cost us,” Cyclones coach Bill Fennelly said. “We fought back and competed, but (West Virginia) is a really good team—long, athletic and deep. they just keep running bodies at you.
“It’s team that will do a lot of damage in our league—they already have. That team will be a tough out in the NCAA tournament”
Averee Fields finished with 12 points, eight rebounds and four assists for WVU, while Caldwell pitched in 11 points.
West Virginia outrebounded Iowa State 41-40 and managed a 26-16 edge on points in the paint.
Seanna Johnson had nine points and a game-high 12 boards for the Cyclones, who never led.
The Mountaineers visit TCU on Saturday.