The West Virginia University women’s basketball team defeated No. 24/23 Iowa State 68-66 in a comeback fashion on Sunday at Hilton Coliseum.
The Mountaineers (15-10, 7-7 Big 12) snapped a four-game win streak for the Cyclones (18-6, 9-5 Big 12), handing ISU their second home loss this season in front of a crowd of 11,951. ISU is the second ranked opponent WVU has defeated this season.
WVU came out of a 27-22 halftime deficit and used 68 percent shooting in the closing half to come from behind. Iowa State led by four with 2:38 left when Jess Harlee found Ayana Dunning in the paint for a quick layup and a two-point game, 66-64. Each team remained scoreless until Averee Fields stole the ball from Nikki Moody for a fast break layup and was fouled. Fields converted 1-of-2 from the line with 48 seconds left.
Out of a Cyclone timeout, WVU forced a turnover and Harlee found Fields in the paint for another quick layup and only 12 seconds remaining, for a WVU one-point advantage, 67-66. Moody came down on the following possession and Palmer took a charge under the basket to give the Mountaineers the final possession. Iowa State fouled Brooke Hampton to buy time, but Hampton converted one free throw and Holmes stole the ball in the final three seconds to close out the game.
“I thought we did a good job. We had to make it ugly because we weren’t scoring, so we had to have more quickness and try to get some traps and turnovers,” coach Mike Carey said. “They do a great job. They’re a great team and very physical. They had some foul trouble and we were in foul trouble, but we were able to pull it off at the end. It’s a big win for us coming off a loss at home against Oklahoma State.”
Iowa State opened the game on a 10-0 run as WVU went 0-for-6 from the field, including three missed 3-point attempts. Out of a timeout at the 15:49 mark, West Virginia switched to a full-court press, forcing a steal into the hands of Fields who dished it out to Harlee for a fast break layup to get on the board for the first time. Christal Caldwell grabbed the ball on the next possession for another quick layup en route to a 6-0 WVU run.
ISU responded with back-to-back jumpers, stretching its lead back out to eight, 14-6, with 12:29 remaining. WVU would hold ISU without a field goal for the next 11:07, however the Cyclones would earn nine points from the free throw line to lead by as many as 11 with 1:53 in the first half. Consecutive 3-pointers from Palmer and Holmes helped the Mountaineers cut the deficit to only five at halftime, 27-22.
WVU finished the game shooting 52 percent (26-50), its highest field goal percentage in a Big 12 game this season, and is now 3-0 when shooting better than 50 percent. Iowa State closed out the game with 41.3 percent (19-46) from the field and 23-of-29 (79.3%) from the free throw line. The Mountaineers made 50 percent of their free throws, converting 10-of-20.
Freshman guard Holmes came off the bench to lead WVU with a career-high 18 points, including a career-best four 3-pointers. Senior Ayana Dunning had 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting and Fields added seven points. Hampton dished out seven assists and added six points in 18 minutes, while Harlee had four assists, seven points and led WVU in rebounding with eight.
“I thought Bria Holmes came off the bench and hit some good shots for us for a freshman in this kind of atmosphere,” Carey said. “I want to say great crowd and great atmosphere. They do it right here. I think they deserve a lot of credit.”
The Mountaineers matched Iowa State on the boards with 28 rebounds per team, but WVU limited its turnovers to 19, while Iowa State had 21 giveaways.
Iowa State’s season-leading scorer Christofferson led all players with 27 points, recording her 1,000th career point in the game. Eight of Christofferson’s points came from the free throw line. Moody and Chelsea Poppens added 14 and 10 points, respectively, while Poppens also led the team in rebounding with seven before fouling out in the final minute. Moody entered the game averaging 7.2 assists per game as the league’s assist leader, but was limited to four assists and turned the ball over eight times.
The Mountaineers next travel to TCU for an 8 p.m., matchup on Saturday, Feb. 23.