Isis Beh steps up to help short-handed WVU hold off Kansas

Feb. 16—MORGANTOWN — There were any number of reasons for the WVU women's basketball team to roll over against Kansas on Wednesday night.

If that had been the case, though, we all would have missed out on the great story that's developing with sophomore forward Isis Beh.

If you're asking who exactly she is, you're not alone.

In short, the 6-foot-3 forward is one of the main reasons the Mountaineers have survived so far without two injured starters and a key reserve.

BOX SCORE She's also one of the reasons the Mountaineers held off the Jayhawks, 62-60, inside the Coliseum, as she came off the bench and finished with 13 points and seven rebounds.

"I've just been waiting patiently for the opportunity, " Beh said. "I'm just taking advantage the best that I can."

That may be somewhat of an understatement. In victories against No. 21 Iowa State and now the Jayhawks, Beh has totaled 22 much-needed points and 10 rebounds.

All of that comes from a player who is seeing her first action in two years this season, after a fractured femur cost her a season of junior-college ball, and she was then redshirted last season at WVU, while still trying to recover from the injury.

Her playing time was rare at the start of the season. Heading into Big 12 play, Beh had been used for all of 71 minutes and she's gone five Big 12 games this season without being called into action.

"Everybody has emotions with basketball, " she said. "I haven't really played for two years. It has been frustrating sometimes, but my teammates have kept my head in it."

On Wednesday, she was going toe-to-toe with Kansas's 6-foot-6 star center Taiyanna Jackson, who had a shot to tie the game at the end, but her shot bounced on the rim twice before finally falling off at the buzzer.

If this had been a month ago, maybe it would have been a total mismatch, but WVU head coach Dawn Plitzuweit said she's seen much development from Beh.

"She's someone who is continuing to grow, " Plitzuweit said. "Her recognition and understanding is really growing, too. It would really surprise us if she wasn't also doing it in practice. The fact she's been able to do it in practice, it sets you up to be successful in games."

Among Beh's 13 points was her first 3-pointer of the season that she nailed just before the halftime buzzer to give the Mountaineers (16-8, 7-6 Big 12) a 36-29 lead.

That, in itself, was a fortunate place to be in for WVU.

The Mountaineers entered the game with key players Jayla Hemingway, Kylee Blacksten and Savannha Samuel in street clothes and then lost reserve forward Messiah Hunter late in the first quarter to what looked like a serious arm injury.

And when Kansas jumped out to a 7-0 lead to start the game, combined with WVU's leading scorer J.J. Quinerly going scoreless in the first half, WVU could have realized it was behind the eight ball and called it a night.

Instead, the Mountaineers came out shooting.

Madisen Smith, Kyah Watson and Sarah Bates combined for six 3-pointers in the first half, and then Beh made it seven at the buzzer.

WVU hit 11 3-pointers in all, the most it's had in a Big 12 game since 2020 against TCU.

"Everybody is getting banged up, but nobody cares, " said Smith who finished with 17 points and seven assists. "We had to go out there and play hard for 40 minutes. We still have players off the bench who can play. We've got to play with who we got and we pulled it out."

Even with all of that, Kansas (16-8, 6-7) had an opportunity to tie the game at the end.

Inbounding the ball with 4.8 seconds left, Zakiyah Franklin took in the pass and moved to her left towards the baseline.

"I really thought she was going to shoot it, " Plitzuweit said.

What Franklin did was lob a perfect pass to Jackson, who hadn't missed a shot yet on her way to 20 points and nine rebounds.

Jackson's shot from under the rim came off the glass and bounced around the rim before it fell off.

"That was a stressful moment, definitely, " Smith said. "She missed it. Game over."

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