The Dominion Post  

Mountaineers breeze past Kansas, 76-46

Created on:   Wed, Feb 14, 2018   11:24 PM

Last modified:   Wed, Feb 14, 2018   11:24 PM

The Dominion Post

MORGANTOWN — As it turned out, Chania Ray’s Valentine’s Day escort was her right knee brace, which looks more like something out of NASCAR than a trainer’s room.

“It’s huge,” she said after scoring nine points and adding nine assists Feb. 14 during the WVU women’s basketball team’s 76-46 victory against Kansas, in front of 1,880 inside the WVU Coliseum. “I haven’t named it, yet. Maybe I should.”

By any account, Ray is yet another member of the Mountaineers’ long injury report that already includes guards Tynice Martin and Anja Martin and forward Krystaline McCune, who are all out for the season, as well as forward Kristina King, who is playing with an injured foot with the help of a fiber brace in her shoe.

The senior point guard came down awkwardly on the knee during the Mountaineers’ loss to Texas, on Feb. 5.

“I felt it during that game, but it was one of those things when you don’t say anything,” Ray said. “It’s the same knee I hurt before (when she was at Florida State), so it’s nothing new to me.”

The pain is daily, but manageable — “I really wouldn’t tell you if I was hurt,” she said — and WVU head coach Mike Carey has a daily battle with Ray over how hard and how much the senior practices.

“We play it day by day,” Carey said. “[Today], we’ll see if she has any swelling. We have to play it by ear. I just don’t know. Really, the only thing you can do for it is rest. This time of year, it’s hard to rest.”

And it is hard for Ray to be her normal self. The heart is there, no doubt, but the speed isn’t, and Ray has to hang back some on offense in order to not get beaten down the floor on defense.

The brace, which travels up the length of her right leg and nearly engulfs her thigh, doesn’t help matters.

In WVU’s win against Texas Tech last Saturday, “I tried to play with just a sleeve,” she said. “I just couldn’t do it. That brace is really big and it’s ugly, but it gets the job done.”

On this night, the Mountaineers (19-7, 7-7 Big 12) did, too.

WVU used a 15-0 run to take a commanding 15-2 lead early and senior Teana Muldrow went nearly point-for-point with the Jayhawks (11-14, 2-12) until midway through the third quarter.

It was the fewest points WVU surrendered in Big 12 play since allowing 44 against Kansas State, on Feb. 6, 2016.

“I thought we got off to a quick start and then we got in a little foul trouble and went to the bench, and we’re not so good,” Carey said. “The third quarter, we got off to a quick start, and then we go to the bench, and we’re not so good.”

WVU ran its lead out to 34 and Muldrow finished with her 11th double-double of the season — 21 points and 11 rebounds.

“There were times when she had a guard on her and we didn’t get her the ball,” Carey said. “Our guards have to be able to recognize that. She was working.”

Naomi Davenport added 15 points and six rebounds, but also turned the ball over five times.

As for Ray, she played sparingly in the second half and only five minutes of the fourth quarter.

She ended the game watching, and finally had a chance to rest and remove the brace and the weight that comes along with it.

“Chania comes with it every day. She’s like the motor of our team,” Muldrow said. “Her pain is holding her back, but we try and keep her spirits up. We let her know that during practice, it’s OK to take some reps off, because we need her for the games and down the stretch.”