ORLANDO, Fla. – The No. 22 West Virginia women’s basketball team won the 2019 Florida Sunshine Classic on Sunday afternoon, after defeating Syracuse, 71-69, at Warden Arena at Rollins College.
Redshirt senior guard Tynice Martin led West Virginia (9-1) in scoring, with a season-high 24 points. Redshirt junior guard Kysre Gondrezick also posted a 20-point scoring effort, with 23 against the Orange.
Sophomore guard Madisen Smith also finished in double figures with 10 points. Junior center Blessing Ejiofor led the Mountaineers on the boards, with a career-high 12 rebounds.
West Virginia was in control early, building a lead of as much as 20 points before needing to hold off a furious second-half Orange rally. Syracuse finished the third quarter on a 9-0 run, shaving WVU’s lead down to a point.
The teams traded leads throughout the fourth quarter and into the last minute. Martin hit a pair of free throws with 33 seconds to play to give West Virginia its final lead.
Syracuse (6-5) was called for a three-second violation with nine seconds remaining, and Gondrezick sealed the win with a pair of free throws.
Following the win, Martin and Kari Niblack were selected to the 2019 Florida Sunshine Classic All-Tournament Team and Gondrezick was named the tournament’s most valuable player. West Virginia advanced to the tournament final with a 63-57 win over No. 19 Michigan State on Saturday.
West Virginia shot 20-of-62 (32.3 percent) from the field and made nine 3-pointers. The Mountaineers out-rebounded the Orange 45-44 and forced 16 Syracuse turnovers. WVU also held the advantage in second-chance points (15-13) and fast-break points (19-8).
Syracuse went 25-of-67 (37.3 percent) from the field and only 4-of-27 (14.8 percent) from behind the arc. Kiara Lewis led the scoring effort for the Orange with a game-high 32 points.
The Mountaineers will have more than a week off before returning to WVU Coliseum to play Cornell at 2 p.m. on New Year’s Eve.