WVU falls at No. 14 Iowa State to open Big 12 play

Gold and Blue Nation

Ari Gray's double-double not enough to lead WVU past Iowa State

Mike Carey calls out to his team during WVU women’s basketball’s exhibition against WVU Tech on Oct. 28, 2021. (Photo: Jamie Green)

AMES, Iowa – The West Virginia University women’s basketball team suffered its first Big 12 Conference loss of the season after falling to No. 14/14 Iowa State, 88-72, on Sunday afternoon, at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa.

WVU trailed Iowa State throughout in a game where the Mountaineers were playing shorthanded. West Virginia scored 20 or more points in the second and third quarters, and outscored the Cyclones, 14-11, in the fourth, but it wasn’t enough to get the win.

West Virginia (7-4, 0-1 Big 12) was led by junior guard KK Deans, who tallied a team-high 17 points and was one of three Mountaineers to finish in double figures. Additionally, fifth-year seniors Ari Gray and Yemiyah Morris each tallied 14 points in the contest. Gray hauled in a game-high 11 rebounds to pace WVU on the boards and register her first double-double of the season.

Iowa State opened the game on a 10-4 run, while the Mountaineers got a score from both Morris and senior guard Madisen Smith. WVU trailed the Cyclones, 13-4, at the first media timeout.

The two teams traded scores out of the break, but a pair of Ashley Joens free throws increased West Virginia’s deficit to 11 points with 2:17 remaining in the quarter. The Mountaineers kept it close following the timeout, but the Cyclones outscored WVU down the stretch, 9-7, to take a 22-10 lead into the second period.

After the Cyclones got on the board to begin the second, Morris tacked on five points by herself to cut the deficit to single digits with 8:04 to go in the half. Iowa State kept on firing on its end and hit a pair of 3’s, which forced West Virginia to call a timeout with 6:44 remaining in the quarter.

A steal-and-score by Gray got WVU on the board after the break. Following the timeout, West Virginia scored six points of its own, but Iowa State tacked on 10 on the other end until 3:39 remained in the quarter when the Mountaineers called timeout.

The two teams traded for the rest of the half, but a last-second layup by freshman guard JJ Quinerly made it a 48-30 game in favor of the Cyclones heading to the locker room.

West Virginia opened the second half with a 4-0 run, but Iowa State with five points of its own, as the Mountaineers continued to trail. The two teams played even basketball over the first five minutes of the third quarter. Morris scored and drew a foul just before the media timeout, as WVU trailed ISU, 60-44.

Morris converted the and-1 try following the break, but the Cyclones tallied six points of their own to take a 20-point lead with 3:19 remaining in the quarter. WVU attempted to chip away at the ISU lead for the remainder of the quarter, but the Cyclones always provided an answer to the Mountaineers’ attack. After Deans sank three free throws with 0.6 seconds remaining in the period, West Virginia trailed Iowa State, 77-58, heading into the final 10 minutes of the game.

Quinerly opened the fourth quarter with a jumper and scored three of WVU’s points, as the Mountaineers jumped out to a 5-2 run over the first three minutes of the period. The two teams traded scores before the final media break, but a 3-pointer by Quinerly cut the deficit to 15 points with 4:16 remaining in the game.

The Cyclones came out of the timeout on 5-0 run, but WVU countered with scores from sophomore guard Savannah Samuel and junior guard Jayla Hemingway. Ultimately, Iowa State did enough to hold on and secure the win.

Next up, West Virginia returns to Morgantown on Saturday, Jan. 8, as the Mountaineers play host to Kansas State at the WVU Coliseum. Tip-off against the Wildcats is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET, and will be broadcast on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.

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