West Virginia women crumble to Northwestern to end season; Tynice Martin announces return

MORGANTOWN — Just as West Virginia’s season came to an end Wednesday with a disappointing 56-54 loss to Northwestern in the third round of the WNIT, Tynice Martin gave the Mountaineers the biggest boost for next season.
“I want to start by saying that I will be coming back for my fifth year as a senior here at West Virginia to work on my game and to be one of the best players to ever play here at West Virginia,” said Martin, who ended her junior season with a tough 6 of 21 shooting night for 17 points. “It wasn’t a tough decision. I knew what had to be done. It was just the fact that do I want to spend a fifth year here or do I want to go make money? That was the only thing on my mind.”
WVU coach Mike Carey felt it was the best decision for the 5-foot-11 guard from Atlanta.
“I think it would benefit her to come back,” Carey said. “I think it would benefit her, because she needs to work on her ball-handling and some one-on-one moves. If you want my opinion, there are things she needs to work on. Her and I have discussed that.”
Martin finished her season with 1,588 career points. She is 526 points shy of passing Cathy Parson — Martin finished with 575 points this season — as the school’s all-time leading scorer.
“She wants to be one of the best players to have ever played here,” Carey said. “She has that opportunity.”
As for the game, the Mountaineers (22-11) had little opportunity to score in a fourth quarter that saw them shoot just 2 of 12 from the field, as Northwestern erased a 47-42 deficit heading into the final 10 minutes.
“You can’t shoot like we did in the fourth quarter and win in a close game,” Carey said. “We had some good looks down the stretch.”
West Virginia led for all but the final 42 seconds, when Northwestern guard Lindsey Pulliam came off a screen and buried a foul-line jumper that gave the Wildcats (19-14) a 55-54 lead.
It was the second straight comeback for the Wildcats, who came back from down 16 to beat Toledo in the second round of the WNIT. After a hot start in the first quarter, West Virginia led by as many as 18 early in the second quarter.
“We seem to tempt the devil all the time in this tournament,” Northwestern coach Joe McKeown said. “We were down 16 late in the third at Toledo. We’re just resilient. We bounced back all year in the Big Ten. I think tonight just showed the kind of fight we had.”
On its next possession, West Virginia lost possession on a jump ball and then had to foul four times to reach the bonus and send Northwestern to the foul line.
Pulliam, who finished with 15 points and eight rebounds, made one of two at the line for the 56-54 advantage with 14.4 seconds left and Carey called a timeout.
WVU first went inside to freshman Kari Niblack, who finished with 14 points and six rebounds, but Niblack had the ball knocked out of bounds by Northwestern with 7.7 seconds remaining.
“I probably should have called another timeout,” Carey later said.
Instead, Lucky Rudd attempted to inbounds the ball, but could find no one open.
“Some people didn’t listen to what I said and did a freelance out of bounds,” Carey said. “That’s fine, but when we couldn’t get the ball inbounds, they never moved and just stood there.”
Rudd tried to throw her pass over the top of the Northwestern’s defense to Naomi Davenport, but Veronica Burton tipped the ball away and raced down the court and dribbled out the final seconds.
“I thought it was a foul, because you can’t go over a player and I was going up,” said Davenport, who concluded her career with 13 points and nine rebounds. “She can’t go over me, but they didn’t call it and she got her hand on it and tipped it away and I couldn’t recover. It was tough.”
Northwestern was led by senior forward Pallas Kunaiyi-Akpanah, who finished with 12 points and 19 rebounds.
“She was getting every offensive rebound,” Davenport said. “That’s what kept them in the game.”
Added Carey: “We didn’t do a good job of executing down the stretch on offense or defense,” he said. “We should have won this game. We led the whole dang game, but we kept taking times off and turning it over. It’s just a shame.”

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