Women's Basketball, WVU Sports

No. 22 West Virginia displays tough defense to take down Purdue

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — KK Deans scored 12 points with six assists, 10 of 11 Mountaineers scored and No. 22-ranked West Virginia held off a tough challenge from Purdue, 65-57 at the St. Pete Showcase on Thursday night.

Purdue, under former Seattle Storm guard and two-time NAIA coach of the year Katie Gearlds, stayed within eight points of West Virginia for most of the game and drained 10 3-pointers to remain a threat.


West Virginia’s defense toughened as Kari Niblack and Savannah Samuel blocked consecutive Purdue shots to end one possession with under three minutes to go.

Esmery Martinez stole the ball to end the next and scored off the fast break, pushing the Mountaineers lead to nine, 63-54 with 1:23 left.

WVU forced 24 turnovers — including 11 steals — and scored 22 points off of them. The Boilermakers were held to just 34% shooting (20 of 58) from the floor and were called for 20 fouls.

The Mountaineers finished the game shooting 27 of 57 (47.4%) from the floor.

A’riana Gray scored 10 for West Virginia (4-0) and Madisen Smith, Jasmine Carson and Samuel each scored eight. West Virginia outscored Purdue 42-16 in the paint.

The Mountaineers opened the first quarter on an 8-0 run, which included 3-pointers from junior guard Jayla Hemingway and Deans.

West Virginia’s early lead went up to as much as nine thanks to a pair of scores from senior guard Jasmine Carson, but the Boilermakers continued to chip away.

Purdue (4-2) was led by Brooke Moore’s 13 points and 12 from Cassidy Hardin, who made four 3-pointers.

Blessing Ejifor came off the bench to lead WVU with eight rebounds.

West Virginia hadn’t scored fewer than 78 points this season. Purdue was aiming for its first win over a ranked opponent since 2019, having dropped the last 18.

With the win, West Virginia advances in the St. Pete Showcase to play the winner of BYU-Florida State. The championship game is scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday.