Sports, Women's Basketball, WVU Sports

WVU women’s basketball team staves off Oklahoma State, advances to Big 12 title game with 59-50 win

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Oklahoma State women’s basketball team made a big comeback Friday night against Oklahoma in the Big 12 tournament quarterfinals, and it looked like the Cowgirls were on the verge of doing the same to WVU in Saturday’s semifinal matchup.

That was until Mountaineers guard KK Deans — coming off a heroic performance of her own in their quarterfinal vs. Kansas State with a game-winning layup — banked in a 25-foot 3-pointer late in the fourth quarter to put WVU up double digits again.

With the fire doused on OSU’s comeback, the Mountaineers walked out with a 59-50 win, returning to the Big 12 Championship game for the first time since they won it in 2017.

“With all the adversity that we’ve faced, we’ve pushed through and persevered, and now we’re back in the championship to get that hardware,” Deans said. “Hopefully we come out on top [Sunday] … we’re going to give it our all. It’s onto the next.”

Deans’ fortunes on the offensive end were not the only highlight for the sophomore, earning praise from head coach Mike Carey for her defensive efforts against the Big 12’s leading 3-point shooter, Oklahoma State’s Ja’Mee Asberry.

Asberry was shooting 44% from beyond the arc this season, but made just 2 of 11 from 3. As a team, the Cowgirls were 2 of 19 from the perimeter.

“I know I give that defensive energy on that side of the court and I knew she was the head of the snake — if you cut the head of the snake off, it’s done,” Deans said. “I just didn’t want to let her get her average, disrupt her a little bit and it worked out in our favor.”

“I thought KK did a tremendous job on their point guard,” Carey said. “[Asberry] had a big night last night and I thought KK did a great job. She paid attention to detail, and when she got picked, others stepped up to help her.”

Junior forward Esmery Martinez bounced back from a poor performance against Kansas State, finishing with 19 points and 15 rebounds. Kysre Gondrezick had 17 points and Deans rounded out the double-digit scorers with 11.

For OSU, Natasha Mack had 19 points and finished with 8 blocks.

As good as the Mountaineers played through the first three quarters, the Cowgirls were able to creep back early in the fourth quarter.

“We got lazy of defense and started taking bad shots, throwing the ball away and all that,” Carey said. “We can’t do that (against Baylor). We have to take care of the ball for 40 minutes and block out for 40 minutes.”

Baylor played in Morgantown on Dec. 10, a 65-45 win for the Bears, and the latest meeting was last Monday, a 96-73 Baylor win in Waco, Texas. In both games, though, the Mountaineers had a chance in the second half but foul trouble to post players Martinez and Kari Niblack were costly in the end.

“When we had to go smaller, that’s when they took advantage,” Carey said. “We’re just going to have to block out, and not just our post but our guards. Their guards rebound the heck out of it. That’s doing to be the key to the game — we don’t box out, it’s going to be a long night.”

Tip is set for 1 p.m. Sunday on ESPN2.