OKLAHOMA CITY – The sixth-seeded West Virginia University women’s basketball team overcame improbable odds in a three-day span en route to defeating top-seeded and No. 2 nationally-ranked Baylor 77-66 to hoist the program’s first ever Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship trophy Monday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Monday’s win marked the second conference tournament title in school history and the first since winning the 1989 Atlantic 10 Tournament. Sophomore guard Tynice Martin poured in 32 points en route to being name the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.
West Virginia (23-10) sprinted out to a 22-14 lead after one quarter, but the No. 2 ranked Lady Bears (30-3) quickly trimmed the game to three with a Nina Davis jumper with 4:45 left in the second quarter. WVU then used a 10-2 run and pushed its lead to 13 before BU cut the game to nine, 39-30, at intermission. BU’s Kristy Wallace made the layup with 8:53 in the third to trim the game to 41-34. Martin, a sophomore All-America candidate, banked a three-pointer on the next possession, setting up a 12-4 Mountaineer run to push the WVU lead to 15.
WVU led by 21 at the end of three, but Baylor proceeded to fight back and trim the game to seven with 2:19 remaining. Though tired, the determined Mountaineers made eight free throws down the stretch to clinch the program’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. West Virginia will make its 12th NCAA Tournament appearance and the 10th under 16th-year head coach Mike Carey.
Over the three-day weekend, WVU defeated No. 3-seed/ No. 19-ranked Oklahoma (82-58), No. 2-seed Texas/No. 12/14 Texas (62-59), and top-seeded/No. 2-ranked Baylor on Monday night. The win snapped Baylor’s 20-game win streak in Big 12 Championship games, while WVU joined the 2004 Oklahoma team as the only six seeds to win the Big 12 Championship title.
“They knew coming down here that we had to win at least one, two games; and I told them after the second game, we might as well win the third one since we’re here,” coach Carey said. “And they came out and played extremely hard and continued to play defense the whole time. I look here where Baylor only had nine offensive rebounds, which is pretty good for us, defensively keeping them off the boards. Baylor is a great program. They do a great job. If we’re going to knock somebody off it was an honor for us to knock off Baylor because they’re such a great program. Give all the credit to our players.”
Martin finished with a game-high and Big 12 Tournament title game record 32 points, which included 12-of-15 from the free throw line. Martin banked eight field goals and four triples and dished out four assists, as she was tabbed the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship’s Most Outstanding Player. Martin’s 32 points were the most in a championship final after surpassing Baylor’s Brittney Griner’s 31 points in 2011 and 2013. The sophomore from Atlanta averaged 27.3 points in the three contests, as WVU moved to 11-1 when she scores 20 or more points.
Teana Muldrow added 15 points and nine rebounds, while blocking two shots. Muldrow also grabbed Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship All-Tournament accolades after averaging 14.7 points and 8.3 rebounds in the three victories.
Additionally, Katrina Pardee added 11 points and hit three triples in the victory. Lanay Montgomery grabbed seven rebounds and scored six points, while Chania Ray dished out game-highs with eight assists and three steals.
Offensively, WVU shot 37.9 percent (25-of-66) from the field and shot 36.7 percent (11-of-30) from behind the arc. The Mountaineers made 16-of-23 from the free throw line for 69.6 percent shooting. West Virginia dished out 13 assists, blocked five shots and collected five steals.
Baylor shot 45.6 percent (26-of-57) from the field and made 10-of-15 (66.7 percent) from the charity stripe. The Lady Bears’ 15 turnovers resulted in 18 Mountaineer points. WVU also won the second-chance points column, 13-8. Four Lady Bears averaged double-figures as Kalani Brown paced the way with 19 points.
Coach Carey and the Mountaineers were also thankful for the supporters in Oklahoma City.
“We’re so far from West Virginia, Morgantown,” Carey noted. “We don’t get a lot of fans here, but you know what? The fans we did have here we really appreciate it and I can hear them, and when the game was over they were singing “Country Roads” and that’s all that mattered, that we heard that song at the end.”
The Mountaineers return home to Morgantown on Tuesday as first-time ever Big 12 Tournament champions. WVU did share the regular-season title with Baylor in 2014.