On Saturday afternoon, the No. 18 West Virginia women’s basketball team was able to get past Kansas on the road, pulling out a 72-68 win.
“We found a way to win,” WVU head coach Mike Carey said following the win. “Needless to say, Esmery (Martinez) 24 rebounds were big for us with Kari (Niblack) in foul trouble. We just got to get a little bit more balanced.”
WVU guard Kysre Gondrezick hit a big three-pointer with 11 seconds left to put the Mountaineers up five points. The Mountaineers were trying to run the clock down and Gondrezick found an opening to shoot the ball. That’s not the exact shot coach Carey wanted, but he understands it.
“It’s like the old story where she takes that shot and I’m thinking in my mind, terrible shot. When it goes in, I say great shot,” Carey said. “You know one of those deals, but hey, she has the nerve to do it. Great players do that. Great players think they’re going to make every shot and so you know she hit a big shot down the stretch.”
In the second half, the Mountaineers struggled to get shots up in the paint, resulting in a lot of forced jump shots.
“Well, I thought there was a stretch where Esmery had about five shots on one trip,” Carey said. “But, you know, the post has got to want the ball too. They got to sit down, demand the ball and not defer to the guard. I even tried to run some stuff for the post, but they act like they didn’t want the ball in there.”
Senior Blessing Ejiofor had a great performance against the Jayhawks, recording eight points in 22 minutes.
“Yeah, that was big, that eight points from her,” Carey said. “We needed that because Kari was in foul trouble. Blessing came in and did a good job.”
This season, West Virginia has dealt with a lot of conflicts with being short-handed. Today, WVU missed starting guard Madisen Smith again with an injury, leaving only seven players to check into the game.
“It’s hurting us, especially on the perimeter. We got to cut back a little bit, get a little sloppy. We didn’t guard the ball at all today and that’s something that we normally do a good job of. So, we got a guard dribble-drive a lot better than what we did today,” Carey said.