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WVU women win Big 12 title with blowout of Baylor

By MICHAEL KINNEY

The Dominion Post

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. — It was supposed to be just a formality for No. 2 Baylor. After winning six-consecutive Big 12 Tournament championships, there was no reason to believe the Bears weren’t going to get their seventh.

West Virginia players celebrate with the Big 12 Championship trophy after defeating Baylor in the title game Monday, in Oklahoma City.
(AP photo)

However, the unheralded WVU women’s basketball team decided it wasn’t going to go out without a fight. After eating two ranked teams just to get to the finals, the Mountaineers were confident they could play with the highly favored Bears.

WVU did more than that. Led by Tynice Martin, the Mountaineers knocked off Baylor, 77-66, in the Big 12 Championship on March 6, at Chesapeake Energy Arena. The victory earned them an automatic spot in the NCAA tournament, one week after they were uncertain whether they would even get invited.

“I have no words. We came up here ready to fight,” Martin said. “And we proved it.”

Martin scored 32 points on 8 of 19 shooting. She also racked up five rebounds and four assists on her way to being named the Most Outstanding Player of the tournament.

“Seeing my mother upstairs cheering really helped me a lot,” Martin said as she shed a few tears. “I’m glad they could experience this.”

After trailing by 21 points, Baylor cut the deficit to 14 midway through the fourth quarter. The Bears’ Nina Davis made a layup in traffic and WVU only led, 68-56.

The Bears got the ball back and Kalani Brown was fouled. She hit both free throws and Baylor was within 10 with 4:34 left in the game.

Martin connected on a jumper to break the momentum, but Davis was fouled and made 1 of 2 from the line.

West Virginia (23-10) turned the ball over again and Brown made them pay with an easy bucket in the paint. She scored again and WVU’s lead was down to seven. The Mountaineers had gotten frazzled by the fullcourt defense Baylor employed.

Even though WVU was unable to score on its next possession, they took almost a minute off the clock. Baylor gave the ball right back on a turnover and a technical was called on Kristy Wallace. Chania Ray made 1 of 2 from the line.

Leading 71-63, WVU’s Lanay Montgomery went to the free throw line and missed both attempts. Baylor got the rebound and attempted a 3-pointer. It was off the mark and Martin got the loose ball.

Martin hit 1 of 2 from the free throw line before Wallace knocked in a 3-pointer. Baylor trailed 72-66 with 28 seconds on the clock.

The Bears (30-3) sent Martin back to the foul line and she once again made 1 of 2 free throw attempts. But that was all the Mountaineers needed to hold on for the victory.

Baylor had four players score in double figures. Brown led the charge with 19 and Wallace added 17.

Teana Muldrow posted 15 points and grabbed nine boards for West Virginia. Katrina Pardee chipped in 11 points.

“Give Baylor a lot of credit,” WVU coach Mike Carey said. “They won the regular season and are a first class act. Secondly, I am so proud of these young ladies.”

Martin came out firing for the Mountaineers to start the night. She drained a pair of 3-pointers in the first few minutes to set the tone. This forced Baylor to try and play tighter defense on the sophomore.

Martin had the Bears frustrated as she scored 11 points in the first quarter to give WVU a 22-14 advantage.

The long distance shots kept flying for the Mountaineers in the second quarter. Pardee joined in the fun and hit 3 of 4 in the first half.

The Mountaineers pushed its lead to 13 before taking a 39-30 advantage into halftime.

The Bears tried to fight their way back into the game behind Wallace and Alexis Prince. They were the only players for Baylor who were able to consistently score.

The Bears had no answer for Martin or Muldrow. Muldrow drained a 3-pointer right as the third quarter ended to give the Mountaineers a 65-44 lead heading into the fourth.

“In basketball, I learned that offense wins games and defense wins championships,” Martin said. “We defiantly proved that today.”

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