Senior Ayana Dunning used 17 points to pave the way to a 72-56 West Virginia University women’s basketball victory over Kansas on Saturday at the Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, Kan.
“YaYa, especially in the second half, our players were doing a good job getting the ball to her. She was hitting some shots and finishing and when YaYa plays well, we play well. I hate to put all that pressure on her, but I will,” coach Mike Carey said.
With the win, the Mountaineers move to 14-9 overall and 6-6 in the Big 12, while the Jayhawks are 14-8 overall and 5-6 in the Big 12.
Leading 50-46, Christal Caldwell hit a 3-pointer to spark a 10-0 WVU run for its largest lead of the game to that point, 60-46, with 6:33 remaining. KU missed five jumpers and recorded a pair of turnovers during the Mountaineers’ run. WVU held Kansas to only four points until Asia Boyd hit a three with just under two minutes to play. Running out of time and in desperation to score, Boyd’s final four 3-point attempts were off the mark, while WVU converted 3-of-6 free throw attempts to seal the win.
The Mountaineers shot a season-high 43.8 percent (28-64) from the field in Big 12 play. The Jayhawks entered the game with the second-highest field goal percentage in the Big 12, shooting 42.8 percent, and was held to only 36.8 percent (21-57) in the game. WVU held KU nine points under their season scoring average.
KU jumped out to a 6-0 lead from the tip, its largest lead of the first half. WVU responded with a 7-0 run with its first five points from Dunning for a 7-6 lead. The lead changed nine times with five ties from that point forward with neither team able to pull away by more than four points in the half. WVU held a 29-28 halftime lead. KU’s Carolyn Davis dominated the paint with 14 points in the first half, but was held scoreless in the second half.
“In the first half they were hurting us in the paint with Davis,” Carey said. “We made some adjustments at halftime and did a good job on her the second half. That was the key.”
Dunning led the Mountaineers in scoring for the fifth time this season and led in rebounding, with nine boards, for the 10th time. Caldwell chipped in 15 points, while Crystal Leary and Darius Faulk combined for 15 points off the bench. Averee Fields matched Dunning on the boards with nine rebounds, to go with a pair of blocks and a steal. WVU out-rebounded KU 45-34.
The Mountaineers forced 15 Kansas giveaways, while limiting their own turnovers to a season-low nine. WVU had the advantage from the free throw line, converting 73.7 percent (14-19), while KU recorded 12-of-19 attempts (63.2%) from the charity stripe.
Davis’ 14 first-half points guided the Jayhawks, while Chelsea Gardner added 11 points. Davis also recorded a game-leading 11 rebounds for a double-double. Angel Goodrich added nine points, six assists and six rebounds.
“Angel Goodrich is one of the better point guards in the country, and I thought we did a good job on her,” Carey said. “She can hurt you at any time. She can drive it and shoot it and I thought our girls did a good job on her.”
The West Virginia women’s basketball team will return home for a 7 p.m., tip with Oklahoma State on Wednesday, Feb. 13 at the WVU Coliseum.