Christal Caldwell’s 19 points paced the West Virginia University women’s basketball team to a 66-52 win at Kansas State, Saturday at the Bramlage Coliseum in Manhattan, Kan.
The Mountaineers (10-5, 2-2 Big 12) used an Ayana Dunning jumper with 8:34 left in the game to take the lead for the final time, 47-45. Dunning’s jumper sparked a WVU 15-2 run, with eight points from Christal Caldwell, five from Dunning and a layup from Averee Fields, down to the 2:47 mark. The Wildcats (10-6, 1-3 Big 12) could not overcome the double-digit deficit.
“Give Kansas State credit,” coach Mike Carey said. “We started slow and missed a lot of easy shots in the first eight minutes of the game and the second half we got Dunning going and it kind of opened up everything. We did a better job in the second half on their shooters. Once we started taking that away a little, it really helped us.”
Taylor Palmer closed out the first half with a three-pointer at the buzzer, while the Mountaineers entered halftime trailing Kansas State 23-22.
“Taylor Palmer’s three before the half really gave us some confidence in the second half,” Carey said. “In the second half, we started doing what we were supposed to be doing defensively. They missed some easy threes that could’ve easily gone in, but I think we rebounded and attacked. We got some easy shots. Jess Harlee got some steals and got some layups and that really got us going.”
WVU improved from only 26.7 percent shooting in the first half to 53.3 percent in the second half, finishing the game shooting 40 percent (24-60). Kansas State also shot 40 percent, with six less field goals, making 18-of-45. WVU held K-State to its season average in 3-point shooting as K-State made 7-of-22 from beyond the arc. WVU had 5-of-13 drop from 3-point range. The Mountaineers capitalized at the free throw line, making a season-high 86.7 percent (13-15), while limiting attempts to the Wildcats, who made 75 percent on 9-of-12 shooting.
West Virginia out-rebounded Kansas State 41-26, led by Caldwell who pulled down nine boards. Behind Caldwell, Jess Harlee came off the bench to grab seven rebounds, six of which came from the offensive end. Averee Fields and Crystal Leary each grabbed six rebounds apiece.
Dunning added 14 points for the Mountaineers, while Palmer chipped in nine and Harlee had six. WVU stole the ball 10 times, forcing 22 Kansas State turnovers, while limiting its own to 18.
K-State was led in scoring by season scoring leader Brittany Chambers with 20 points, and followed by Brianna Craig and Haley Texada with 12 and 10 points, respectively. Chambers also led the Wildcats on the boards with six rebounds.
The Mountaineers return home for a 7 p.m. tip against TCU on Tuesday, Jan. 15 at the WVU Coliseum.