No. 18 West Virginia Escapes Close One In Lawrence

West Virginia needed a couple late buckets to hold off the Jayhawks on Saturday to avoid dropping two in a row.
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West Virginia guard Kysre Gondrezick scored 25 points and forward Esmery Martinez shined with a strong double-double effort to push the Mountaineers by Kansas 72-68 on Saturday afternoon.

Gondrezick was the victim of a poor shooting performance from the field only converting on 6 of 20. Although, she made up for it at the line going 11 of 14.

Martinez was the backbone for the Mountaineers in the paint notching a double-double. She had her way down low grabbing a career-high 24 rebounds and scoring 14 points for the Mountaineers.

"Needless to say, Esmery with 24 rebounds was big for us," West Virginia coach Mike Carey said. 

Aniya Thomas scored 19 points, Zakiyah Franklin added 18 points and Holly Kersgieter had 12 points and 8 rebounds for the Jayhawks. 

West Virginia (18-4, 12-4 Big 12) had to overcome their shooting woes as a team. They finished the day finding the bottom of the net only 28 times of 71 attempts (39%), including only 2 of 15 from three (13%).

"Once again, the team showed a lot of heart. We still didn't play well, didn't shoot the ball well," Carey said. "We let them dribble-drive us all night, but we found a way to win."

After leading the Jayhawks by ten at halftime, the Mountaineers came out firing early in the third. Gondrezick drilled one of her two three-point shots to give West Virginia their largest lead at 48-33 with 6:22 remaining in the third.

Kansas (7-15, 3-13 Big 12) used a huge 18-5 run to end the third quarter and cut the deficit to 55-51 heading into the final quarter of play, and Franklin came off the bench to help ignite the Kansas offense.

Thomas was the catalyst in the big run to put the Jayhawks back in it. She came alive and scorched the Mountaineers for 12 of her 19 points in the third quarter.

Both teams could’ve used a redo to begin the fourth. They each combined to miss their first ten shots of the fourth quarter, with the lone score coming from a free throw netted by the Jayhawks Zakiyah Franklin.

West Virginia allowed the Jayhawks to inch their way back to within just two points after Franklin rolled in a layup with 40 seconds to go. But Gondrezick showed why she’s one of the best guards in the country. 

The senior nailed a shot from beyond the arc with 16 seconds remaining to ice the game for the Mountaineers, and the Jayhawks would come up short in their comeback efforts. 

"Kysre had the nerve to shoot that three and put us five," Carey said. "Thank goodness she hit it, but she has the guts to shoot that and she hit a big shot for us."

West Virginia will be back in action again on Wednesday against Kansas State @ 7:30 p.m. on ESPN+. 

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