|Senior forward Jess Harlee guards TCU's leading scorer Zahna Medley in WVU's win over TCU.
|Big 12 Conference photo
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – The No. 7 West Virginia women’s basketball team advances to the Phillips 66 Big 12 Women’s Basketball Semifinals with a 67-59 win over TCU, Saturday.
The Mountaineers improve to 28-3 this season, extending their win streak to 11 games and haven’t lost a game in 42 calendar days, since Jan. 25 against Texas. WVU is now 7-0 all-time against TCU, and 3-0 this season.
“Let's give TCU a lot of credit; came out and played extremely hard,” coach Mike Carey said. “They played us extremely hard all three times (this season). I knew this was going to be like this, this game, and I told the team when we knew we were playing them last night that they're a great team.
“But I thought Jess Harlee
came in defensively and offensively, did a great job. I thought Asya Bussie
did a great job in the paint, and when we got behind there, Taylor Palmer
came in and hit a couple threes and got us going a little bit and scored. It was a total team effort.”
With 11:42 remaining, WVU trailed by one when Palmer made back-to-back threes, followed by a three-point play from Asya Bussie
, helping the Mountaineers spark a 12-2 run over the next 3:39. The run gave West Virginia its largest lead of the game, 56-47. The Horned Frogs used a 7-1 run from that point to cut the deficit to only one, 57-56, with 2:21 left. The Mountaineers then went on a 10-3 run to close the game, including a 6-of-7 mark from the free throw line to seal the win.
TCU’s Zahna Medley made five of her first six field goal attempts and had 19 points until junior forward Jess Harlee
began guarding her. Medley then only made three of her next 11 attempts, finishing with 32 points – 10 from the free throw line.
“We just tried to make sure that we were all on the same page and trying to slow down,” senior guard Taylor Palmer
said. “We knew we had to get stops, and like coach said, Jess Harlee
came in and she played tremendous on Medley and it got her to slow down a little bit, and that's when we started to make our run.”
The Horned Frogs (18-14) had three more 3-pointers than the Mountaineers, but shooting was very similar for each team. The Mountaineers outrebounded TCU 42-27, including 20 offensive boards. WVU has recorded at least 20 offensive rebounds against four Big 12 opponents this season. The Mountaineers earned 20 second chance points to TCU’s six, with 30 points in the paint to the Horned Frogs’ 18.
A major role in the paint was Bussie, who had her eighth double-double this season with 18 points and 13 rebounds, including seven boards on the offensive end. It was her 15th career double-double, matching Olayinka Sanni for 11th-most all-time in program history. Behind Bussie, Palmer added 11 points off the bench, including all three of WVU’s 3-pointers, while senior guard Christal Caldwell
added 10 points.
In the first half, the Mountaineers pulled away from a 4-4 tie in the opening minutes with a 7-0 run for their largest lead of the half, 11-4, with 14:16 until halftime. TCU responded with a 10-4 run, capped by back-to-back threes from Medley, but still trailed 15-14. Medley used a pair of consecutive threes again at the 5:51 mark, giving TCU its first lead since the opening minutes. The lead changed three times before the teams entered halftime tied at 31-31. It was the first game all season the Mountaineers were tied with their opponent at the break.
Behind Medley’s game-leading 32 points, Natalie Ventress added six points, while Latricia Lovings recorded seven blocked shots and seven rebounds.
The Mountaineers advance to the semifinals to play No. 3-seeded Texas, Sunday, at 5:30 p.m. ET. The semifinals will air live, nationally, on Fox Sports 1.