West Virginia only needs a minute.
That was how much time was left on the clock as the Mountaineers faced a seven-point deficit to Kansas State in the Big 12 Tournament, but they still turned it around to win and advance, 58-56.
“They just don’t quit,” said WVU coach Mike Carey. “I really don’t have to pump them up when they come over at the end like that when the game’s close.”
Kysre Gondrezick got the comeback started with a three-pointer to cut right into the lead. WVU opted to send Christianna Carr to the foul line, where she would get one point back for the Wildcats.
KK Deans then went on a tear. She answered the free throw with a layup on the other end, then turned two K-State turnovers into five points in just 19 seconds — the latter of which fell just as the buzzer sounded to give WVU the win.
Those points came from a pair of key steals in the last thirty seconds as West Virginia turned to a trap defense — the first coming as Deans closed in on Carr, forcing a jump ball. The second was a result of a size substitution, when Carey sent Blessing Ejiofor out on the floor for the final five seconds.
That last decision paid off, as Ejiofor tipped the inbound pass, ultimately sparking Deans’s final run to the basket.
Of course, there were 39 minutes of basketball leading up to this fateful snapshot of the game, and it didn’t quite please the Mountaineers’ head coach. West Virginia struggled offensively in the first half, making 30 percent of their shots while getting out-rebounded by a plus-15 margin.
Kysre Gondrezick’s performance was the one shining bright spot for West Virginia in the first three quarters, as she led the game with 18 points in that span. She was key to the comeback in the fourth as well, finishing with 28 points.
“We just kept ourselves in the game the entire game,” she said. “You know, it’s March, the craziest things happen during this time, and the fact that we gave ourselves a shot it was great to come on the side of victory and we’re just going to carry this moment into tomorrow night.”
Deans, on the other hand, was a bit of a microcosm for her team’s play. She entered the fourth quarter with four points on 28 percent shooting, but scored seven decisive points in the fourth quarter to help her team to move on.
As a team, though WVU had a rough outing on the floor. Deans and Gondrezick were the only double-digit scorers and scored 64 percent of WVU’s points. As a team, the Mountaineers made just 36 percent of their shots.
“I can’t remember a game we shot as bad as we did today, but I can’t remember a team I’ve had in a long time that had as much heart as this team, they don’t quit,” Carey said. “We’ve gotta come out and play better tomorrow, but we need to enjoy this one tonight.”
West Virginia will play tomorrow at 4 p.m. against the winner of the quarterfinal Bedlam clash between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.