MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The WVU women’s basketball team is one win away from a perfect month of January. The Mountaineers played with a shortened bench but had no trouble sweeping the regular season series from Texas Tech, 73-53 Wednesday night in Lubbock.
West Virginia led for the final 29 minutes of the contest as they cruised to their seventh consecutive victory. The Mountaineers held off a late rally from the Lady Raiders to win 83-78 two weeks ago in Morgantown.
“This was a big win. They played us tough at home. They were waiting for us to come here. We were a step slow. In second chance points, they out hustled us. People were playing too many minutes that weren’t used to playing too many minutes. Hopefully we can get a rotation down,” said WVU head coach Mike Carey.
The Mountaineers led 14-11 after the first quarter and they extended their lead to a dozen points in the second. A 13-1 run capped by a Kysre Gondrezick triple put WVU ahead 27-15. West Virginia led by 11 points at halftime, 36-25.
The Mountaineers made seven of their last eight shots from the floor in the third quarter, extending their lead to 54-40 entering the fourth quarter.
Gondrezick led the Mountaineers with 24 points. Esmery Martinez narrowly missed her tenth double-double. She finished with 16 points and 9 rebounds. Jasmine Carson scored a dozen off the bench. Carson played a season-high 33 minutes. She hadn’t played more than 16 minutes in any other game.
“She loves it but I guarantee you she will sleep well tonight. She was huffin’ and puffin’ a little bit out there. And she’s got to go through it. She hadn’t played a lot of minutes.”
Kari Niblack was West Virginia’s fourth player in double figures with 10 points. Blessing Ejiofor scored 6 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in her first start of the season.
“Blessing was very active, especially in the first half,” Carey said. “In the second half, she just got tired. Kari got in foul trouble, Esmery got in foul trouble.”
Carey utilized just seven players until the final minute of the game due to injuries and roster attrition. Sophomore post player Rochelle Norris has entered the transfer portal. Sophomore guard Jayla Hemingway was injured in last Wednesday’s win against Kansas State and should be out for five weeks. Starting guard K.K. Deans missed a second consecutive game. Carey says Deans could possibly return to the lineup Saturday.
The Mountaineers have won nine consecutive meetings against Texas Tech. WVU’s 6-game win streak in league play is their longest since the Mountaineers won their last ten games of the 2013-2014 Big 12 season, en route to the league championship. WVU’s seven-game overall win streak is the longest among Big 12 teams.
Vivian Gray led Tech (8-8, 3-7 Big 12) with 18 points.
West Virginia (12-2, 6-2 Big 12) will return to action Saturday afternoon at TCU (7-7, 2-7). The Mountaineers entered the AP rankings for the first time this season Monday, checking in at No. 24.