MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Senior Ayana Dunning
and junior Christal Caldwell
combined for 35 points in the West Virginia University women’s basketball team’s 53-49 victory over Texas for its first Big 12 Conference win on Wednesday at the WVU Coliseum.
“It is finally good to get a win,” coach Mike Carey said. “They worked hard in practice and again we didn’t play well, but we played well enough to get the win. Now we have to build on that.”
The Mountaineers (9-5, 1-2) led by only one with 35 seconds remaining as Empress Davenport converted both free throws to make it a nail biter. The Longhorns (7-7, 0-3) fouled three times to buy time in an effort to steal the ball and get a final possession, but when Brooke Hampton
went to the line for the 1-and-1, the junior guard converted 1-of-2 to allow the Mountaineers a two-point lead at 51-49 and 25 seconds to play. UT’s Imani McGee-Stafford went up for a close shot that fell clanked off the rim and into the hands of Averee Fields
, who was able to come down with the rebound and pass it up to Taylor Palmer
. Palmer converted both attempts from the charity stripe to seal the league victory.
“We came out in the second half lackadaisical and standing around,” Carey explained. “When they finally took the lead, I think they went up three or four, then we started picking it up again. I told our girls that we had to win a game.”
West Virginia came out of halftime with a 26-20 lead, but Texas found a way to get back into the game with an 11-2 run sparked by an Ashley Roberts 3-pointer in the opening seconds of the half. UT took the lead, leaving WVU at a five-point deficit, 41-36, until Caldwell hit a jumper, followed by a three to tie the game at 41 with 6:59 remaining. Dunning tacked on a jumper of her own to give WVU a two-point lead before a Cokie Reed layup tied the game at 43 with 4:11 left. WVU used its hunger for the Big 12 win to hold onto the lead until the end.
Each team shot 60 field goals with WVU making 36.7 percent (22-60) to Texas’ 31.7 percent (19-60). Both teams made 25 percent (3-12) from beyond the arc and WVU attempted more shots from the free throw line for the first time in conference play, converting 6-of-14 (42.9%). Texas was 8-of-12 (66.7%) from the free throw line.
Dunning led all players with a season-best 19 points to go along with seven rebounds and three steals, while Caldwell chipped in 16 points, including a pair of threes, five rebounds and two steals. Fields led the Mountaineer’s rebounding efforts for the fifth time this season with nine boards and also dished out three assists. Taylor Palmer
recorded seven points, but went without a 3-pointer for the first time in 10 games. Jess Harlee
added five points off the bench.
The Mountaineers were out-rebounded 46-39, with Texas’ McGee-Stafford pulling down a game-leading 13 boards. Davenport led the Longhorns with 14 points, while Nneka Enemkpali chipped in nine and McGee-Stafford added eight points.
The Mountaineers take to the road as they face Kansas State in Manhattan, Kan., at 4 p.m. on Saturday Jan. 12.