Here is everything you need to know about the West Virginia Mountaineers and the TCU Horned Frogs in our West Virginia vs. TCU Big 12 Tournament women’s basketball preview.
Game 2: No. 7 West Virginia (14-14, 7-11) vs. No. 10 TCU (6-21, 2-16), 8 p.m. CT Thursday, Big 12 Now/ESPN+ (time is dependent on completion of Game 1)
Season series (West Virginia 2-0): West Virginia def. TCU, 66-54, in Morgantown, WV, on Jan. 25; West Virginia def. TCU, 70-62, in Fort Worth, Texas, on Feb. 2.
Winner gets: a Thursday game with No. 2 seed Iowa State at 5 p.m. CT Friday.
Projected starting lineups
West Virginia: G Madisen Smith, F Esmery Martinez, G JJ Quinerly, F Kari Niblack, G Jayla Hemingway.
TCU: G Lauren Heard, F Michelle Berry, G/F Okako Adika, G Aahliyah Jackson, C Kayla Mokwauh.
Player to watch
West Virginia F Esmery Martinez: The junior was the only Mountaineer to earn All-Big 12 Second Team honors earlier this week. With the injury to KK Deans, more of the offense fell to Martinez. Martinez averaged 11.1 points and 8.8 rebounds per game this season, and saw those averages change to 10.5 points and 9.1 rebounds in 17 Big 12 games. She was a Big 12 Second-Team selection for the second year in a row.
TCU G Lauren Fields: She is one of the most decorated players in TCU history and the school’s all-time leading scorer, male or female. She was named honorable mention, but it was her third-straight All-Big 12 honor, marking the first TCU player to earn All-Big 12 honors in three consecutive seasons since Zahna Medley. By the way, Medley was the player Heard replaced at the top of the Horned Frogs’ scoring list. She is averaging 14.9 points per game, along with 5.8 rebounds, four assists and 1.5 steals.
West Virginia: The Mountaineers were coming off an NCAA Tournament berth last season, powered by No. 3 overall WNBA Draft pick Kysre Gondrezick. West Virginia has been on the periphery of being a .500 team all season, and the loss of Deans to injury midway through Big 12 play didn’t help matters. But the rise of freshman JJ Quinerly helped the Mountaineers win three of their final four games, and a win in Kansas City could help them snag a berth in the WNIT.
TCU: This is the worst season TCU has experienced under head coach Raegan Pebley in her eight-year tenure in Fort Worth. The Horned Frogs did have a high-water mark, though, upsetting then-ranked Texas A&M at home on Dec. 12. But, once Big 12 play started, TCU just couldn’t get any momentum. TCU’s only league wins came against Oklahoma State and Texas Tech, and TCU has lost 13 straight going into the Big 12 Tournament.
West Virginia has made it to postseason play in 14 straight seasons, excluding the COVID-19 shortened 2019-20 season.
West Virginia 71, TCU 61. Lauren Heard may have a big game for the Horned Frogs, but the Mountaineers will have the better game and get another shot at Iowa State.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.