MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Down two starters and one of her top bench players, WVU women’s basketball coach Dawn Plitzuweit had to find a way to make her depleted roster work against Kansas on Wednesday.
Behind a 17-point performance from guard Madisen Smith and a career night from forward Isis Beh, the Mountaineers (16-8, 7-6 Big 12) found a way to hold off the Jayhawks (16-8, 6-7), winning 62-60 and earn a crucial win for the Big 12 standings.
The sophomore Beh stole the show off the bench, logging a career-high 13 points and seven rebounds while going up against KU forward and WNBA prospect Taiyanna Jackson. She logged those numbers in 28 minutes (her previous high was just 16) and knocked down her first career 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer.
This is her second straight career game after adding nine points and three rebounds in WVU’s upset of No. 21 Iowa State on Saturday.
“I’ve just been waiting patiently for the opportunity,” Beh said. “So I’m just taking advantage as much as I can.”
Despite Beh’s breakout game, Jackson still had a strong performance, scoring 20 points and missing just one shot. That lone miss turned out to be the most crucial, though, as her potentially game-tying shot at the final buzzer rolled off the rim to give WVU the win.
Jackson led the game in rebounding, grabbing nine boards, six of which were on the offensive glass.
“We really tried to be diligent about getting around her and trying to deny passes around her,” Plitzuweit said. “It’s hard because even though you can do everything right, you still may not get to it so then you need other players to make plays.”
While KU registered no bench points throughout the game, WVU got 22 points from its reserves, including the 13 from Beh. Sarah Bates added the other nine, shooting 4-for-5 with a three-pointer.
Smith recorded several career milestones in the win. With her pass to setup Beh at the end of the half, she dished the 500th assist of her career. She also converted her 400th field goal in the second quarter, and she grabbed her 300th career rebound in the third.
Smith also added a buzzer-beater, banking in a 3-pointer in the final seconds of the third quarter.
West Virginia entered this game with a depleted lineup after losing starters Jayla Hemingway and Kylee Blacksten in its previous game. That brought the injury list up to three names after the team lost Savannah Samuel before facing the Cyclones.
Plitzuweit tapped on Tavie Diggs to start in Blacksten’s place and Danni Nichols to slot in for Hemingway.
“We tried to be as smart as possible with our post kids, I was trying to keep them out of foul trouble because we were pretty limited at that point in time,” Plitzuweit said. “So Tavie, I think she got one [foul], then Isis, then she got one, and now Messiah [Hunter], and obviously she got hurt doing that, and that shortened it even more. I just think ultimately our young ladies were really battling.”
The list again grew in the first quarter as Messiah Hunter went down and left the game, later returning to the bench with her arm in a sling.
The Mountaineers earned a crucial victory for its spot in the Big 12 standings, earning its seventh win to move a game clear of the Jayhawks. With Baylor’s loss on Wednesday, WVU holds fifth place in the conference as the Bears dropped their third straight.
WVU hits the road again for its next two games, opening a Lone Star State road trip at No. 17 Texas on Sunday at 4 p.m. ET.