WVU Women Rally Behind Niblack’s Big Play
MORGANTOWN, W.Va — The scream echoed through the Coliseum, Kari Niblick expressing the pain she felt in her left knee.
West Virginia’s women’s basketball team, to that point, had been handling Texas rather easily, leading by as many as 13 and at that point, with 4:36 left in the third quarter and the Mountaineers still on top of this crucial Big 12 confrontation, 40-32.
Mike Carey, who seen how may of his players go down with knee injuries, winced on the bench. Niblick simply hurt.
“I know the scream sounded dramatic, but that really hurt,” she said afterward, WVU having survived a Longhorn rally to pull out a 68-63 victory that turned on one play, a play that Niblack made.
Niblack was not really having one of her good games, as she went just 1 for 6 from the field and 1 for 6 from the free throw line, so that only added to the pain as she limped off to the training room.
“I admit it, I was scared,” she said.
But like Gen. Douglas MacArthur, she returned and became a conquering hero.
Let’s set the stage here. With 54 seconds left in the third quarter she returned to the bench, her knee heavily wrapped.
“Can you go back in?” Carey asked.
She gave him one of those “are you crazy” looks and answered “Yeah.”
When the fourth quarter started she was in the lineup.
With 44 seconds left to play, Kysre Gondrezick made the first of two free throws to cut the Texas lead to 61-60 but missed the second.
Somehow, Niblack found her way to not only pull down the most important offensive rebound of what is a 13-1 season but to spot Gondrezick beyond the 3-point line.
The next scream you heard came from nearly everyone in building.
SWISH went the 3-point shot and WVU was back in front.
“I’ll get credit for making the shot,” Gondrezick said, “but she made the play. That change the full momentum of the game.”
How big a play was that?
“BIG … big, big, big,” Carey said.
So just what did the other Kari think of her heroics?
“That was just me doing what I do,” she said. “I didn’t even realize it a was free throw. I saw Charli Collier and Joanne Allen-Taylor on me, so knew someone had to be open. I saw Kysre.”
And that was that. Everything changed. For WVU, even free throws began falling. The Mountaineers made 8 of their last 10 free throws. Before that they had made only 10 of 22 free throws.
Tynice Martin finished with 23 points and Gondrezick with 21 while Niblack had 12 rebounds.
“Kari showed a lot of heart going back in there,” Carey said. “A lot of players would not go back in.”
After the game she still was hobbling and admitted you could hear a crack in her knee whenever she bent it. She will see a doctor on Monday. Her availability for the Oklahoma game on Wednesday is uncertain.