MORGANTOWN, W. Va. – Senior Carolyn Davis scored eight of the team’s final 11 points, as No. 21/20 Kansas overcame a 13-point first-half deficit to defeat West Virginia, 60-59, Saturday night at WVU Coliseum and give the Jayhawks their first 2-0 Big 12 Conference start since the 1998-99 season.
Davis, who finished with 14 points, and Angel Goodrich combined to score 30 points, as KU improved to 11-2 overall. West Virginia dropped to 8-5 on the season and 0-2 in league play.
Both teams traded baskets to open the second half, but then KU’s Bunny Williams fired in three-straight points to give the Jayhawks a 35-33 lead with 15:33 left in the game. KU took its largest lead, 39-35, but the Mountaineers countered with a 13-3 run, including six points from Averee Fields, to take a 48-42 edge.
KU responded with a 5-0 spurt and trailed, 48-47, with 4:27 on the clock. WVU’s Jess Harlee put the Mountaineers up 50-47, but KU’s CeCe Harper had a shot to tie the game with a traditional three-point play. Harper missed the free throw and Kansas still trailed, 50-49, with 3:08 left. WVU sank four free throws over the next minute of play, while KU’s Davis sank five-straight Jayhawk points to force a 54-54 tie at the 1:52 mark.
Following a steal by Chelsea Gardner, Davis was fouled and sank the first of two free throws to give KU a 55-54 lead. Gardner hauled in the missed second free throw attempt and Goodrich was fouled on a drive. Goodrich, like Davis, made the front-end of the two free throws. Gardner was whistled for being over the back on the second free throw try, and WVU’s Fields sank both her charity shots to force another tie, 56-56.
Goodrich drove to the basket and dished to Davis for the layup, as Kansas regained the lead, 58-56, with 42 seconds left in the game. WVU’s Taylor Palmer air-balled a three-point try, after a deflection by Harper, and Natalie Knight was fouled to stop the clock. With seven seconds left, Knight sank both attempts from the line and KU led, 60-56. Palmer sank her fourth three of the game with one second remaining for the final margin, 60-59.
“Just from the poise and composure (we showed tonight), we are in a great place moving forward,” head coach Bonnie Henrickson said. “We got great production (from our bench) and I thought they played with a lot of confidence. This is a big road win in our league, because winning feels different. You prep different, you travel different and you feel better. Just the confidence you gain from being successful, that’s important.”
West Virginia took control early, 6-2, as Christal Caldwell scored all six of the Mountaineers points. Caldwell pushed the WVU lead to 10 points, 14-4, with a three-pointer at the 13:40 mark. WVU’s Taylor Palmer followed with her second trey of the game to cap the 11-0 run and take a 17-4 lead. KU’s Davis, who scored the Jayhawks first four points of the game, was forced to sit the final 13 minutes of the first half after being whistled for two quick personal fouls.
Trailing 19-6 and with Davis on the bench, the Kansas offense ended a nearly 8-minute drought between made field goals and responded with an 15-2 run, including six points by Goodrich, to force a 21-21 tie with 5:39 left in the half. Kansas ended the half without Goodrich and starter Natalie Knight as each collected two fouls with four minutes left in the period. The KU bench stepped up and finished the half strong, as the Jayhawks overcame its largest deficit of the season, 13 points, and trailed by one, 31-30, at the break.
Kansas will continue its road swing with a game at Oklahoma State on Tuesday. Game time is scheduled for 7 p.m.