The No. 22/23-ranked West Virginia University women’s basketball team secured its second win of the season on Friday afternoon, as the Mountaineers defeated Kennesaw State, 78-58, at the WVU Coliseum in Morgantown.
Despite falling behind in the first quarter of the game, 23-21, West Virginia (2-0, 0-0 Big 12) rallied over the final three quarters of the game and outscored Kennesaw State (1-3, 0-0 ASUN), 57-35, down the stretch. The Mountaineers also held the Owls to 12-of-33 (36.4%) after the first quarter, in which they shot 11-of-15 (73.3%) from the floor.
Three Mountaineers finished the game in double figures, including senior guard Jasmine Guard, who tallied a team-best 14 points. Eight of those tallies came in the second quarter. Carson was joined in double figures by junior forward Esmery Martinez (13) and junior guard KK Deans (12).
Additionally, Martinez hauled in a team-high 12 rebounds and collected her first double-double of the season and 16th of her career.
“We have a lot to take care of,” WVU coach Mike Carey said. “They (Kennesaw State) showed us a lot of stuff, too. They showed us 2-3 man (defense), 1-2-2 full-court and 2-2-1, which is good. It’s good we got that practice against them. We had way too many turnovers. We didn’t create enough turnovers. We just were a step slow. We played a lot of people, so I don’t understand why we’re a step slow. We have another game Sunday, and we have one day to prepare. Hopefully, we come out and play quicker than we did today.”
After Kennesaw State won the opening tip and took an early lead on its end of the court, Martinez put WVU on the board and tied the game on the other end. KSU came out of the locker room in a full-court press and presented some challenges for WVU, as the Mountaineers went back-and-forth with the Owls throughout the first quarter.
WVU trailed by two at the first-quarter media timeout, but Martinez tied the game coming out of the break. However, Kennesaw State continued to make the most of its opportunities, and West Virginia trailed by two heading into the second quarter.
Despite a tough start to the game, the Mountaineers’ second quarter completely changed the tune of the game. After Deans tied the game at 23-23 with a pair of free throws at the 7:41 mark, WVU was off and running. A 3-pointer from senior guard Madisen Smith helped West Virginia jumped ahead, but it was the Mountaineers’ defense that stifled Kennesaw State’s offense.
WVU held KSU to seven points and forced five turnovers in the second quarter, as Carson outscored the Owls on her own in the final 10 minutes of the first half, netting eight points.
West Virginia finished the half on an 8-0 run and made its last four field-goal attempts to take a 42-30 into the locker room.
Kennesaw State cut the lead to single digits by going on a 5-0 run to begin the half, but the Mountaineers countered with an 8-2 run of its own to take a 13-point lead over the Owls just before the media break. In the final two minutes of the quarter, fifth-year forward Ari Gray and junior guard Jayla Hemingway sank back-to-back 3-pointers to stretch WVU’s advantage to 22 points at the end of the third.
Of note, Martinez scored once in the quarter and hauled in two rebounds to complete her double-double.
Heading into the final 10 minutes with a 65-43 lead, West Virginia ultimately put the game away in the first four minutes of the fourth quarter, outscoring Kennesaw State, 11-2, during that stretch. WVU led by 30 with 5:34 to play.
KSU scored 11 points of its own down the stretch, but the Mountaineers came out on the other side with a 78-58 victory.
West Virginia finished the game shooting 27-of-59 (45.8%) from the floor, including 11-of-24 (45.8%) from 3-point range. WVU also outrebounded KSU, 34-33, and forced 23 turnovers in the game. For the second consecutive game, the Mountaineers’ reserves scored 33 points.
WVU concludes its three-game, season-opening homestand on Sunday, Nov. 21, when the team welcomes Radford to Morgantown. Tipoff against the Highlanders is scheduled for 2 p.m. ET, at the WVU Coliseum. Sunday’s contest will be broadcast on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.