The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

January 27, 2012

Sophomore Caldwell sparkling for WVU women

By Mickey Furfari
For The Register-Herald

MORGANTOWN — Sophomore Christal Caldwell is growing into a steadily scoring contributor for the young West Virginia women’s basketball team.

As a result, the 5-foot-9 guard from Charlotte, N.C., is averaging 11.2 points per game — third on the team. Despite her small size, she also is the second leading rebounder with 6.0 per game.

Caldwell, who has started only 13 of WVU’s first 20 games, also has 21 assists and 19 steals.

She performs well on defense, too.

“I’m still learning, but I know I’m a better player than I was when I came here (as a transfer from Florida).

Caldwell played only 19 games for the Gators and then sat out the 2010-11 year after enrolling here. That is an NCAA requirement for transfers.

She topped all players with a career-high 25 points and nine rebounds in WVU’s 64-54 loss to 20th-ranked Georgetown on Tuesday night at the Coliseum.

The Mountaineers (14-6 overall, 4-3 Big East) hope to bounce back against Marquette at 7 p.m. on Saturday in the Coliseum.

Caldwell hit double digits just twice in the first 10 games. But she scored 10 or more in nine of the last 10 contests, the most against Big East opponents.

“Christal is starting to contribute more,” Coach Mike Carey acknowledged. “She always plays hard.

“I thought the first half (against Georgetown) she played extremely well. But in the second half, I thought she was a little tentative.”

Caldwell said that she started playing basketball when she was only 5 or 6 years old. “I had a first cousin (male) and I learned a lot from him,” she said. “We’d even go against each other on the court.”

She earned numerous honors as a standout player for West Charlotte High School.

Caldwell was named North Carolina Ms. Basketball in 2009-10. She led her school to back-to-back appearances in the state title games, winning WCHS’s first championship in her senior season.

She made The Associated Press all-state team twice and was the leading vote-getter. She averaged 17.1 points and 8.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 3.0 steals per game as a senior.

“I feel I’m playing better, and I love it here,” Caldwell said. “But I’m trying to get even better, and I love my teammates.

“I’m trying to work on my shooting, and also free-throws. And I try to be in the right place and at the right time when it comes to getting rebounds.” she said.

Finally, she said she likes everything about WVU.