No. 22 West Virginia women hold off upset-minded Purdue

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP)Kirsten Deans scored 12 points with six assists, 10 of 11 Mountaineers scored and No. 22-ranked West Virginia held off a tough challenge from Purdue, 65-57 at the St. Pete Showcase on Thursday night.

Purdue, under former Seattle Storm guard and two-time NAIA coach of the year Katie Gearlds, stayed within eight points of West Virginia for most of the game and drained 10 3-pointers to remain a threat.

West Virginia’s defense toughened as Kari Niblack and Savannah Samuel blocked consecutive Purdue shots to end one possession with under three minutes to go. Esmery Martinez stole the ball to end the next and scored off the fast break, pushing the Mountaineers lead to nine, 63-54 with 1:23 left.

A’riana Gray scored 10 for West Virginia (4-0) and Madisen Smith, Jasmine Carson and Samuel each scored eight. West Virginia outscored Purdue 42-16 in the paint.

Purdue (4-2) was led by Brooke Moore’s 13 points and 12 from Cassidy Hardin, who made four 3-pointers.

West Virginia hadn’t scored fewer than 78 points this season. Purdue was aiming for its first win over a ranked opponent since 2019, having dropped the last 18.

More AP women’s college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25

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