Mar. 22—SAN ANTONIO — It was a game of runs for the WVU women's basketball team, opening the NCAA tournament against Lehigh in the first round.
Tied at 26-26 with 3:49 left in the second quarter, the Mountaineers went on a 10-0 run to carry a 10-point lead into the locker room.
Then, with about the same amount of time remaining in the third quarter, WVU scored 16-straight points to end the frame, blowing the game open as the Mountaineers went on to a dominant win 77-53 at St Mary's University.
"I thought the second and third quarters, we were a lot better, and we need to continue to get better, " head coach Mike Carey said. "We started getting them to take some bad shots and that led to us having some fast-break opportunities. This team has so many weapons and we just have to trust each other, and when we do that, we have a pretty good team."
Kysre Gondrezick, playing in her first NCAA tournament game after five years at both Michigan and WVU, scored a game-high 26 points, shooting 60 % from the field (9 of 15) and 75 % from 3 (6 of 8). KK Deans scored 19 points, while Esmery Martinez added 17 with 11 rebounds.
Overall, the Mountaineers (22-6) shot 55 % from the floor.
It wasn't the best start for Gondrezick, going scoreless in the first quarter, but she went on to hang 11 points on the Mountain Hawks in the second quarter, followed by nine in the third.
"The first couple of shots were forced and weren't good looks, and I just had to calm down and play within the flow of the offense and take what the defense gave me, " she said. "I think those first 3s I made were kind of my bread and butter—knocking down the 3 off the screen. I was able to draw the defense and dish out to my teammates when they collapsed on me."
Because of that, Gondrezick also finished with five assists.
Carey said forward Kari Niblack didn't feel well, so she was rotated in and out, only playing 27 minutes.
It was a week since WVU last played—the Big 12 championship loss to Baylor—but the Mountaineers looked sluggish during the first 15 minutes, something Carey didn't understand.
But as the game wore on, his team appeared to get their legs back under them, and he believes that will carry over into the second round.
"We play better in the second game ... that's been my thing over the years in the tournament, " Carey said. "I look for us to come out and have a great game against Georgia Tech."
The fourth-seeded Mountaineers will now take on No. 5-seed Georgia Tech on Tuesday after the Yellow Jackets snuck away with an overtime win over Stephen F. Austin, trailing by as many as 17 before coming back. WVU guard Jasmine Carson will have a chance to play against her old teammates, transferring from GT after last season.
The time, location and network are to be determined.