Morton’s shots, Montgomery’s blocks lift West Virginia women past K-State

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Transfer guard Jessica Morton, appearing in only her third game this season, scored 22 points and Lanay Montgomey blocked nine shots, the most for a West Virginia player in 29 years.

Their two performances made quite an impression during a 63-51 win over Kansas State on Wednesday night.

“Morton on the offensive end and Montgomery on the defensive side—that was the story of the game,” said K-State coach Jeff Mittie.

Averee Fields scored 12 points and Bre McDonald added 11 as West Virginia (12-6, 2-4) overcame another off night by All-Big 12 guard Bria Holmes, who finished with 10 points on 3-of-13 shooting.

The Mountaineers trailed 25-22 before opening the second half with a 13-1 run. Morton later scored eight points during a 10-0 run as West Virginia stretched the lead to 50-32.

The junior shot 8-of-14 overall and 4-of-6 on 3-pointers.

“Everything was working,” said Morton, who recently became eligible after transferring from Gulf Coast (Fla.) Community College. “I was just communicating with my teammates and had winning on my mind.”

Thanks to 53-percent second-half shooting, WVU closed the game at 43 percent overall.

Kansas State (11-6,1-5) finished at 31 percent, struggling to shoot over the 6-foot-5 Montgomery, whose nine blocks were one off the Division I single-game high this season. She became the first Mountaineer with nine blocks since Georgeann Wells in 1985.

“Montgomery is so long, but she also has the timing,” said Mittie.

After grabbing 12 rebounds, Montgomery joked that she was disappointed in barely missing a double-double. But West Virginia coach Mike Carey said he wanted staffers to take another look at the video.

“It sure seemed like she had more than nine to me,” he said.

West Virginia’s 15 blocked shots set a school record against a power-conference opponent, and that defense prove vital when the shots didn’t fall early.

Carey saw West Virginia commit 10 turnovers while struggling through an offensive malaise during the first half, when K-State led for nearly 17 minutes.

“We were just standing around,” Carey said. “We can’t just pass the ball around the perimeter and when the clock winds down try to get a shot.

“The first half everybody says our offense sucks, and second half we made shots and everybody says the offense looks good.”

Holmes, named to the Wooden midseason top-20 list earlier Wednesday, shot 0-for-6 in the first half. Though she was held to less than half her 21 points-per-game average, Holmes finished with five assists, four rebounds and two blocks.

In her last four games, Holmes has made only 19-of-74 shots from the floor and 4-of-28 from 3-point range.

“I’m not worried about her,” Carey said. “She’s a great player and she’s always in the gym.”

The Mountaineers visit Kansas on Saturday.

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