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Gondrezick leads No. 17 WVa women past Lehigh 77-53

West Virginia forward Kari Niblack (14) tries to get a rebound grabbed by Lehigh guard Megan Walker (10) during the first half of a college basketball game in the first round of the women's NCAA tournament at the Greehey Arena in San Antonio, Texas, Sunday, March 21, 2021. (AP Photo/Ronald Cortes)

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Once West Virginia started running, the Mountaineers couldn’t be stopped.

Kysre Gondrezick scored seven of her 26 points in a game-breaking 16-0 run to close the third quarter and No. 17 West Virginia raced past Lehigh 77-53 in the opening round of the women’s NCAA Tournament on Sunday night.

The Mountaineers (22-6), the four-seed in the Hemisfair Region, also closed the first half with 10-straight points to help set up a meeting with fifth-seeded Georgia Tech on Tuesday.

“It was just a good game for us to kind of get the kinks out, you know, we’ve been off for a week,” Gondrezick said. “And I think that first quarter we were able to get some of those mistakes (out) that we made, you know, on both offensive and defensive ends.”

Kirsten Deans scored 19 points with eight rebounds and five assists for West Virginia. Esmery Martinez had her 15th double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds. Deans and Martinez both were 7-of-10 shooting. Gondrezick was 9 of 15 from the field, including 6 of 8 from 3-point range, and grabbed seven rebounds with five assists and four steals.

Emma Grothaus scored 14 points for the Mountain Hawks (11-5), who were in their fourth NCAA Tournament and first since 2010 despite finishing fifth in the Patriot League. Frannie Hottinger added 12 points and Megan Walker 11.

“I thought they came out, particularly in the second half and really established themselves on the defensive end kind of took us out of our offensive flow,” said Sue Troyan, who has coached all of Lehigh’s NCAA Tournament teams. “But I’m super proud of our kids, how they competed, how they represented Lehigh for 40 minutes.”

Deans hit a 3-pointer in the closing seconds of the first half to cap a 10-0 run that gave the Mountaineers a 36-26 lead at the break.

Lehigh was hanging close, trailing 49-39 after a Grothaus 3-pointer, but West Virginia put the game away, taking a 65-39 into the fourth.

West Virginia made both 3s in the 16-0 run and 10 of 13 shots, plus 7 of 8 free throws, and outscored Lehigh 29-13 in the third quarter. The Mountain Hawks missed four shots and had four turnovers in the last 3 1/2 minutes.

BIG PICTURE

Lehigh: The Mountain Hawks didn’t have the size or speed to keep up with the Mountaineers. They were outrebounded by 10 and shot just 30.6%. … Lehigh did win the only other meeting back on Dec. 27, 1999, in New Orleans, 89-73. … The Mountain Hawks played 10 games in January and just six since, only two in February.

West Virginia: The Mountaineers finished 30 for 55 from the field (54.5%), including 8 of 15 from 3-point range and made 9 of 11 free throws. … Gondrezick, who played her freshman year at Michigan, reached 2,000 points for her three-year West Virginia career.

LOSING A PARENT

Six Lehigh players hail from Minnesota so when they were home amid the pandemic shutdown they got together wherever that found an outside basket for hoops and bonding.

That bonding help when one of the Minnesotans, Emma Grothaus, lost her mom, also a college player and confidante, just after the season started. After missing a weekend of play, she chose to be with her teammates, only to suffer a broken nose as soon as she returned. returned, only to break her nose.

Buoyed by her basketball family, made stronger through her state connections, came back and was the Patriot League Tournament MVP.

LOSING A PARENT, PART 2

In early January Kysre Gondrezick lost her dad, former Pepperdine star and NBA player Grant Gondrezick. He was just 57.

Two days later Kysre scored 24 points and West Virginia defeated No. 17 Texas by 34 points and she went on to have an All-Big 12 Conference season.

UP NEXT

The Mountaineers face Georgia Tech in the second round.

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