MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — Kansas had the chance during a lackluster regular season to pull off upset wins over both of the Big 12 co-champions. In the end, turnovers cost the Jayhawks at No. 7 West Virginia.
Bria Holmes scored 16 points to lead No. 7 West Virginia to a 67-60 victory over Kansas on Tuesday night.
The Mountaineers will share the regular-season championship with No. 9 Baylor, which defeated Iowa State 70-54 later Tuesday for a piece of its fourth consecutive conference title.
The Jayhawks did their best to spoil West Virginia's party but couldn't overcome a 13-point deficit in the second half. Kansas lost its fifth straight game.
"They really did a nice job defensively and (when) we turned it over, they scored," said Kansas coach Bonnie Henrickson. "I thought our kids battled."
West Virginia forced 17 turnovers and outrebounded Kansas 45-39. Bench scoring made the difference with West Virginia holding a 25-8 advantage.
For now, the highlight of Kansas' season is a 76-60 win over Baylor on Jan. 19. But there's still work to be done.
Kansas plays Kansas State in the first round of the conference tournament Friday in Oklahoma City. The winner gets Baylor in the second round.
Regardless of how the conference tourney ends up, Henrickson expects West Virginia to make a deep run in the NCAA tournament.
"I mean, who has had the best depth in the league but them?" she said. "Their depth is really impressive."
After years of being perennial also-rans in the Big East and last year in their inaugural season in the Big 12, the Mountaineers have that coveted title.
"To win the Big 12 in the second year is great," coach Mike Carey said. "We struggled but we played well enough to win."
West Virginia's players gathered arm-in-arm after the game and joined fans in singing John Denver's "Country Roads," the school's unofficial anthem. A trophy presentation was held and the players took turns cutting down the nets.
Based on a tiebreaker, Baylor earned the top seed for the league tournament and West Virginia gets the second seed. Both will have first-round byes.
Carey said he normally mentions the next opponent during his postgame talk to his players.