AUSTIN, Texas – The West Virginia University women’s basketball team fell 58-45 to Texas on Tuesday in its final regular-season game.
The Mountaineers’ 45 points (17-12, 9-9 Big 12) was a season-low point total. The Longhorns (12-17, 5-13 Big 12) led by only two points with 11:47 remaining in the game, but used a 12-2 run down to the 7:56 mark for a 50-38 lead. The run started with five free throws and was capped by seven straight points from Empress Davenport. The momentum was enough to close out the game, as WVU struggled to score, going 1-for-6 from 3-point range and 3-for-12 from the field for the remainder of the game.
The opening half saw five ties and four lead changes, with the Mountaineers pulling away by six, the largest lead of the half. Junior forward Jess Harlee
went down with a knee injury with 5:16 remaining in the half. The Longhorns sent WVU into the locker room trailing 24-20.
“First of all, we feel really bad about Jess Harlee
. She is our energy. She is our player with the most heart that gets our team going. We don’t know for sure what it is, but it doesn’t look good and we are worrying about her,” coach Mike Carey said. “Give Texas credit though. They came out and punched us in the mouth and we just sat there and took it. In the second half, we cut it to two a couple of times, but we ended up fouling or giving up points in the paint. We didn’t box out and gave up three-point plays. It’s ridiculous, but give Texas all the credit.”
The Longhorns dominated the paint, earning 30 points in the lane and out-rebounding WVU 43-25. The Mountaineers shot 31.6 percent (18-57) for the game, while Texas made 45.5 percent (20-44) of its attempts from the field. WVU recorded 25 percent (5-20) of its shots from 3-point range, while the Longhorns made 2-of-6 (33.3%). Texas gained an advantage from the free throw line, converting 16-of-29 (55.2%) attempts, while WVU made 4-of-13 (30.8%) from the charity stripe.
WVU had a pair of players in double figures, led by Taylor Palmer
with 14 points, and Christal Caldwell
with 10 points. Caldwell led WVU on the boards with five rebounds. WVU forced 22 turnovers, while limiting its own giveaways to 16, but the Longhorns were able to capitalize with 15 points off turnovers to WVU’s 13 points off turnovers.
Nneka Enemkpali led three Longhorns in double figures with 16 points. Davenport finished with 15 points, while Chassidy Fussell chipped in 12 points. Enemkpali had a double-double as she led all players in rebounding with 15 boards. Imani McGee-Stafford helped defend the paint with five blocks and pulled down 12 rebounds.
The Mountaineers closed out their inaugural season in the Big 12 Conference with a 17-12 overall record and a 9-9 mark in the league, finishing in sixth place. As the No. 6 seed, WVU earned a bye in the opening round of the Big 12 tournament and will face the No. 3-seeded Oklahoma Sooners at 9:30 p.m., on Saturday at the American Airlines Center in Dallas. The game will air live nationally on FOX Sports Net.