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WVU Women’s Basketball

Scoring Droughts Prove to Be WVU Women’s Basketball’s Kryptonite



WVU Women's Basketball JJ Quinerly

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Head coach Mark Kellogg’s WVU women’s basketball team has been firing on all cylinders on the defensive side of the ball all season long, but the one thing that has plagued his team in big games has untimely been scoring droughts.

In the Big 12 tournament specifically, the Mountaineers incurred an over six minute-long scoring drought against Cincinnati in their opening game, but were saved by a good defensive showing. However, three substantial scoring droughts proved to be the difference maker in their 65-62 loss to the No. 3 seeded Kansas State in their quarterfinal matchup on Saturday night.

The first, a 5:28 long scoring drought spanning over the end of the first quarter and beginning of the second which saw the Wildcats claw back from down 23-13 to pull a once upstanding Mountaineer lead to within four. The second, lasting 3:07 during the third quarter which began with the Mountaineers down 34-36 and ended with them trailing by 10. Lastly, a 3:22 drought at the beginning of the fourth that had West Virginia up 51-49 at the beginning and down 57-51 at the end.

“We really screeched to a halt in that second quarter,” Kellogg said. “They switched to a zone and it hurt us combined with some foul trouble.”

That’s 11:57 of total time without a single ball going into the rim for the Mountaineers, more than a full quarter of basketball and during that timespan the Wildcats outscored them 22-0. Funnily enough, 22-0 is actually a very respectable number given the longevity of the scorelessness and that’s thanks to some characteristically sound play on the defensive end.

“I think we came into that second quarter a little too relaxed and calm,” JJ Quinerly said. “We are a relaxed group of girls but we needed to have that same fire as we did in the first quarter to start the second.”

In a game that ended with a three-point deficit, eliminating just one of these scoreless runs is a game changer, but the Mountaineers were unable to do so. Most of these scoreless runs can be attributed to a variety of things, whether it be poor shot selection or complacency when running their set plays on offense. Kylee Blacksten’s absence in the second quarter due to foul trouble was a huge factor for the longest of the droughts, as her absence allowed Ayoka Lee to not have to guard her on the perimeter and stick to the paint where she is one of the best defenders in the country.

“Yeah when [Blacksten’s] out there it brings Lee to the outside because she’s more of a four that we play at the five position,” Kellogg said. “When she’s out there it really opens up the paint for JJ and [Jordan Harrison] and when she’s absent that advantage goes away.”

As early as their loss to No. 10 Texas, the Mountaineers went into half-time down 37-25a nd after a 5:01 scoring drought were down 47-25 with the game officially out of reach. In a loss to then No. 18 Baylor, a 4:28 long skid saw Coach Kellogg’s crew go from down 15-13 to 24-13. All of these droughts are just a few to name of, but all of them have a few things in common. They are in big games against teams that West Virginia looked promising against but just couldn’t find themselves on the right sides of things at the final buzzer. Of West Virginia’s seven losses just two of them are to unranked teams, and the majority of those losses to Top 25 opponents can be attributed to unusually large scoring droughts that swung the game.

West Virginia’s ability to overcome these droughts with their defense is admirable but with their next obstacle almost certainly being the Round of 64 in the NCAA Tournament, these droughts will not fly against teams hungry to be the last one’s standing. Coach Kellogg was asked about his thoughts on his team not being able to be on the right side of matchups against big teams postgame.

“I don’t think [we can’t get over the hump] at all,” Kellogg said. “These are one possession games and you hang on to every possession in the postseason, we just didn’t respond quick enough to some of those runs.”

Kellogg has praised his teams ability to respond on numerous occassions this season, but they will need to respond harder in the NCAA Tournament if they are going to go far. The question of whether they can do it is only something West Virginia fans can find out by seeing it, and whether these close games have battle-tested the Mountaineers enough is yet to be seen.

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