MORGANTOWN — It’s an easy thing to understand the immediacy that comes with tournament play, quite another to live it and thrive in its most pressure-packed moments.
Katrina Pardee calls this time of year, “Win or go home,” and that was never clearer for the WVU women’s basketball team than in the fourth quarter of its 67-55 victory March 23 against James Madison, in the third round of the WNIT.
With the score tied at 48 heading into the fourth quarter, a struggling — to that point — Pardee was not in the mood to head home.
“If we lose, there is no tomorrow,” said Pardee, who scored 11 of her 16 points in the fourth quarter to hold off the pesky Dukes (23-11). “We know in those situations, we can’t get all riled up. We have to stay focused and stay calm and stick to our game plan.”
It was a game plan that worked beautifully in the second and fourth quarters, and horribly in the first and third.
“We were very fortunate to win that game,” WVU head coach Mike Carey said. “It’s all heart. It’s all concentration. It’s something this team has done all year. We’ve been so inconsistent. Their energy levels have been so inconsistent.”
The Mountaineers (24-11) advance to the WNIT quarterfinals and will host St. John’s, at 4 p.m. Sunday. The Red Storm (19-14) defeated Duquesne, 65-52, on Thursday.
WVU is 16-8 all-time against its old Big East rival, but the Red Storm won the last two meetings.
A WVU Coliseum crowd of 1,709 saw the Dukes go shot-for-shot with the Mountaineers early. James Madison forward Kelly Koshuta made her first six shots. She scored 14 of her team’s 21 first-quarter points and JMU led, 21-20.
Then the Dukes couldn’t buy a bucket. JMU was held scoreless for the first 7:23 of the second quarter, as WVU took a 14-point lead.
In the second and fourth quarters, JMU shot a combined 4 of 35 (11.4 percent) and was outscored, 34-12.
In the first and third quarters, JMU shot 61 percent from the floor and outscored WVU, 43-33.
“What I really base it on is quality of shots,” JMU second-year head coach Sean O’Reagan said. “You know what’s going on. You know your score hasn’t moved in a while. You just try and get them another quality shot. We got cold.”
JMU came back to tie the game at 48 heading into the fourth quarter, but that’s when Pardee really turned things around, and Teana Muldrow was able to break through a little bit, too.
After Muldrow opened the fourth with a basket in the paint, Pardee scored off her own miss, then drew an offensive foul as the Dukes tried to inbound the ball.
Muldrow scored again for a 54-48 lead.
Pardee, who is playing on a twisted left knee that was wrapped in ice after the game, wasn’t finished. She hit a 3-pointer, then faked a 3-point attempt, drove a few steps in and nailed a long two.
“It was something I wasn’t really thinking about,” Pardee said. “I just took the shots.”
JMU didn’t score in the fourth until Lexie Barrier made two free throws with 4:44 remaining and didn’t make its first basket in the fourth until Breyenne Bellerand scored on a drive with 2:07 left.
Pardee outscored the Dukes, 11-7, by herself in the final quarter.
Kristina King scored 14 of her 17 points in the first half and Muldrow narrowly missed out on a double-double with nine points and 10 rebounds.
Chania Ray and Naomi Davenport each scored 10.
Koshuta finished with 22 points and nine rebounds for the Dukes.