Mountaineers erase halftime deficit, storm back to take down Wildcats 66-57
Published: Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, February 27, 2013 01:02
Though it wasn’t the complete performance West Virginia head coach Mike Carey has been searching for, the Mountaineers rattled off a 14-2 run late in the second half to come from behind and defeat visiting Kansas State 66-57 Tuesday night.
"It’s a win. I don’t know. (In the first half) we were a step slow, standing around (and) throwing the ball around. (Kansas State) was getting (loose balls). They were outhustling us," Carey said.
With two regular season games remaining before postseason play begins, he said it is imperative the team focus solely on winning games.
"We have to win games. We can’t stand around and worry about feelings, we can’t stand around worrying about playing time – we have to worry about getting wins and that’s how I’m going to coach down the stretch," he said.
Despite trailing for most of the first half and yielding 36 points to Kansas State senior guard Brittany Chambers, the Mountaineers (17-10, 9-7) were able to persevere and secure a much-needed win as the team prepares to host top-ranked Baylor Saturday.
Chambers’ 36 points are the most by a West Virginia opponent since Sue Wicks scored 42 points for Rutgers in 1988. The Wildcats also got a double-digit offensive performance out of junior forward Chantay Caron, who finished with 11 points.
Redshirt senior center Ayana Dunning and redshirt junior guard Christal Caldwell both finished with 15 points to lead the offensive attack for West Virginia. Senior forward Jess Harlee and sophomore forward Averee Fields chipped in with 11 and 10 points, respectively.
Kansas State head coach Deb Patterson said Chambers’ performance was incredible, but her teammates’ inability to convert more on offense proved fatal.
"Brittany had a will and a desire to find a way to win and it’s unfortunate we didn’t have any significant production on the shot attempts around her," she said. "She stepped up in just about every way you could ask her to but the positions around her … just couldn’t convert."
Patterson also said the Mountaineers’ interior play proved too difficult to overcome.
"There was some real pressure inside and outside early in the second half. Dunning and Fields started to get some touches at the rim, and when we showed a double-team, I thought Caldwell did a really nice job of stepping up (and scoring)."
The Mountaineers trailed Kansas State for the last 12 minutes of the first half, but finally were able to break through and take the lead at the 7:47 mark in the second half after a Harlee three-pointer.
West Virginia trailed by as many as 10 points in the first half and faced a 31-23 deficit at the start of the second frame of play.
Chambers, the Big 12’s No. 2 scorer behind Baylor’s Brittany Griner, shot a blistering 72 percent from the field in the first half, scoring 20 points before halftime.
Despite being one of the team’s bright spots this season, the Mountaineers struggled to find any significant contributions from its bench early on as the reserves only produced five first-half points. The second half, however, saw 13 points from the West Virginia bench. For the game, the Mountaineers outscored Kansas State 18-0 in bench points.
The Wildcats have been forced to play with a limited roster all season after suffering several injuries to key players. In January, Kansas State lost sophomore guard Ashia Woods and junior forward Ashlynn Knoll to season-ending injuries in a single practice.
As a result, Kansas State (13-15, 4-12) had three players play the game’s entire 40 minutes; Caldwell was the only West Virginia player to do the same.