WVU vs K State, KK Deans

WVU guard KK Deans (3) drives in the paint against a defender earlier this year.

The West Virginia women’s basketball team came up just one free throw short against the BYU Cougars in the final second, 68-67 at the Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, FL.

In the battle between future Big 12 foes, the Mountaineers (4-1) held a solid lead for a majority of the contest against the Cougars (7-0), even leading by as many as 10 points at the end of the first quarter, and by eight at halftime.

At the end of the game, the Mountaineers got the ball back from the Cougars and drove towards the basket to try to tie the game or win it with a three. Senior Esmery Martinez drove the ball into the paint and drew a foul.

With .07 seconds left in the contest and down by two points, Martinez found herself at the free throw line with a chance to tie the game and send the final of the St. Pete Showcase to overtime.

After sinking the first one, the BYU coaches called a timeout to ice the Mountaineer forward’s initial second attempt. Martinez’s official second shot from the line was too strong, and the Mountaineers ended the early season tournament with a runner-up finish.

Despite the gut-wrenching missed free throw, Martinez led the way for the Mountaineers with 18 points in the afternoon, and tied for the team lead in rebounds with six.

Besides Martinez, there were only a few other Mountaineer players who scored any points all afternoon; junior KK Deans had 17 points and six rebounds herself. The Greensboro, North Carolina native also went four-from-eight from behind the arc, a team-high.

Senior forward Ari Gray recorded nine points off bench, while fellow senior Kari Niblack struggled with only five points on the afternoon. Sophomore Jeanna Cunningham recorded four points as well.

The defense will be an area of focus for WVU head coach Mike Carey and the rest of the coaching staff after the Mountaineers struggled to maintain their various different leads throughout the afternoon against BYU.

Following the trip home from St. Petersburg, the Mountaineers will make the trek to Lexington, KY, to face the Kentucky Wildcats for the Big 12/SEC challenge.

Tip-off from Rupp Arena is set for 7:00 pm on Dec. 1, and will be live on the SEC Network.