MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The West Virginia University women’s basketball team could not handle No. 24/24 Iowa State’s second-half surge, falling 53-49, Saturday at the WVU Coliseum.
The Mountaineers (11-8, 3-5 Big 12) have dropped their second consecutive game by four points, after holding a halftime lead. The Cyclones (14-4, 5-3 Big 12) out-scored WVU 28-15 in the second half, with Nikki Moody and leading scorer Hallie Christofferson combining for 18 points.
Iowa State chipped away at the lead until finally pulling away for the first time with only 4:36 remaining. The Cyclones capitalized from the free throw line, converting 12-of-15 attempts, while WVU missed some valuable attempts, going 5-for-10 from the line.
“That is all we have talked about for three days now-executing and staying focused for 40 minutes,” coach Mike Carey said. “Bad shots led to easy shots for them in transition. They didn’t have the 1-and-1 in the first half and in the second half, they were in it in 11 minutes. We just stood around and fouled. We were doing it on both ends. Standing on defense and standing on offense and holding the ball—you are just not going to win. In this league, you have to play for 40 minutes. We keep stressing that and we are just not doing it right now.”
From the tipoff, WVU came out strong. Pulling away from a 6-5 lead with a three from Linda Stepney sparked a 16-3 run down to the 11:32 mark for WVU’s largest lead of the half at 22-8. Iowa State responded with a 17-5 run from that point until the 2:39 mark, making it a 27-25 game with the Mountaineers in favor. A Taylor Palmer three capped a 7-0 run at the end of the half, allowing WVU a 34-25 halftime advantage.
The Cyclones outrebounded WVU 14-11 in the first half, however, the Mountaineers forced 12 Iowa State giveaways while limiting their own turnovers to seven. The Cyclones matched the Mountaineers in the second half, turning the ball over eight times each.
WVU shot 41.3 percent from the field (19-46), while Iowa State shot 39 percent (16-41). The Cyclones recorded three more 3-pointers than the Mountaineers, making 9-of-19 (47.4%), in comparison to WVU’s 6-of-14 (42.9%).
Jess Harlee came off the bench to lead the Mountaineers in the opening half with 11 points and four rebounds, but was limited to only a pair of points and one rebound in the second half. Senior Ayana Dunning added nine points in the closing half, totaling 17 as WVU’s leading scorer in the game. Dunning also led off the boards as she pulled down seven rebounds.
Iowa State dominated the Mountaineers on the boards 35-22. Christofferson recorded a game-leading 23 points, including four 3-pointers and a perfect 7-of-7 from the free throw line. Chelsea Poppens and Moody each added in 10 points and seven rebounds.
WVU will close out the first half of Big 12 play as it travels to Stillwater, Okla., to take on Oklahoma State at 8 p.m., on Tuesday, Jan. 29.