MORGANTOWN — The scream echoed through the Coliseum, Kari Niblack expressed 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 were still on top of this crucial Big 12 confrontation, 40-32.
Mike Carey, who has seen how many of his players go down with knee injuries, winced on the bench.
Niblack simply hurt.
“I know the scream sounded dramatic, but that really hurt,” she said, WVU having survived a Longhorn rally to pull out a 68-63 victory that turned on one play, a play Niblack made.
Niblack was not really having one of her good games, 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 McArthur, 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 Godrezick made the first of two free throws to cut a four-point 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 Godrezick beyond the 3-point line.
The next scream you heard came from nearly everyone in the building.
SWISH went the 3-point shot and WVU was back in front.
“I’ll get credit for making the shot,” Godrezick said, “but she made th play. That changed 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 I knew someone had to be open. I saw Kysre.
And that was that.
Everything changed. For WVU, even free throws began falling. They 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 and on Wednesday her availability is unknown when Oklahoma comes to town for a 7 p.m. game.
Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel