MORGANTOWN — An elbow in the back or maybe even the shoulder. Sometimes it’s a little shove while Teana Muldrow is running hard down the court and then there is the constant talk in her ear.
All of it courtesy of Muldrow’s presence as the go-to player for the WVU women’s basketball team.
“Since I’ve been here, I’ve taken some pretty hard hits at this school,” Muldrow said after scoring a career-high 33 points in leading the Mountaineers to a 76-62 victory over St. John’s on March 25, in the quarterfinals of the WNIT. “Teams try to target me and get me out of my game.”
Muldrow’s points were the most in a postseason game in school history, surpassing the 32 points Tynice Martin scored against Baylor in the Big 12 tournament last season.
WVU (25-11) advances to host Virginia Tech (22-13), at 7 p.m. on March 28, in the WNIT semifinals. The Hokies knocked off Alabama, 74-67, on Sunday.
WVU defeated Virginia Tech earlier this season, 79-61, in the Paradise Jam finals, in Melbourne, Fla.
Muldrow faced some physical defense in WVU’s quarterfinal win against James Madison last Friday.
She admitted afterward that she was frustrated some and she struggled, shooting just 3 of 14 from the field.
St. John’s, too, was a constant gnat buzzing in Muldrow’s face on defense, which led to a little shove here or there.
“That’s all right. I like that stuff,” WVU head coach Mike Carey said. “I like it when they let you play a little bit.
“That means you’re good, if you’re a target. I’d rather be a target than not a target. I’d rather be the one that they’re worried about. That should motivate you right there.”
It served as plenty of motivation for Muldrow, who was not about to have a second below-average game.
She had three baskets against James Madison, but countered with three baskets in the first quarter against the Red Storm (19-15).
“Last game, I wasn’t being aggressive,” Muldrow said. “I told myself that I was going to be more aggressive this game.”
A crowd of 2,280 inside the WVU Coliseum saw Muldrow establish herself from the start. Carey said it was a matter of taking advantage of St. John’s defensive strategy of switching on screens at all five positions.
“We didn’t know what they were going to do at the [center position],” Carey said. “Once they started switching there, we went right inside as much as we could.”
The reason? Muldrow generally found herself being guarded by a smaller guard.
“Yeah, I love that,” she said.
The Red Storm certainly didn’t.
She became even more of a force in the second half, scoring from the inside and the outside, as WVUU pushed a 38-28 halftime lead to a 60-43 advantage heading into the fourth quarter.
She finished the night off going nearly perfect from the foul line, sinking 14 of 15 for the game.
“I’ve watched her since high school; she’s a kid out of New Jersey,” St. John’s head coach Joe Tartamella said. “She can shoot it. We fouled her and we gave her 14 points at the line, which is not how you want to play. She’s a mismatch. She’s tough.”
It’s the third time WVU has played in the WNIT semifinals. following runs in 2005 and 2015.
Katrina Pardee added 15 points, four rebounds and four assists, while Naomi Davenport added 12 points and five rebounds for the Mountaineers.
St. John’s was led by Akina Wellere’s 23 points.