Martinez, Deans lead No. 17 West Virginia women to B12 final

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Esmery Martinez scored 19 points and grabbed 15 rebounds and West Virginia’s reigning hero Kirsten Deans hit another critical shot and the 17th-ranked Mountaineers held off Oklahoma State 59-50 on Saturday in the semifinals of the Big 12 Conference Tournament.

West Virginia plays top-seeded and No. 6-ranked Baylor in Sunday’s title game.

The No. 2-seed Mountaineers had a 17-point lead after a Kari Niblack jumper with 8:57 to play. But the third-seeded Cowgirls came back with 11 straight points to reduce their deficit to 54-48 with 5:07 left.

Kysre Gondrezick ended a 4:27 drought with a pair of free throws. On the Mountaineers’ next possession Deans, whose buzzer-beating layup sank Kansas State in the quarterfinals, banked in a desperation, shot clock-beating heave from well beyond the top of the key.

The basket put West Virginia on top 59-48 with 3:20 remaining in spite of a 5 1/2-minute span between field goals (0-for-7 shooting) and three turnovers.

Gondrezick scored 17 points for the Mountaineers (21-5) and Deans had 11.

Natasha Mack had 19 points, nine rebounds, eight rebounds and three steals for the Cowgirls (18-8).

West Virginia missed 12 of 14 in the fourth quarter and turned it over five times. Oklahoma State couldn’t capitalize because of 4-of-15 shooting. The Cowgirls finished 2 of 19 from 3-point range; shooting 31.6% from the field.

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More AP women’s basketball: https://apnews.com/Womenscollegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

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