BLACKSBURG, Va. – After struggling with her shot for most of the night, Virginia Tech’s Lindsay Biggs pulled through with six points over the final 1:47 to help the Hokie women’s basketball team hang on for a 59-53 victory over UNC Greensboro in its season opener on Friday night.
It was a too-close-for-comfort ending to a game that saw the Hokies jump out to a 10-0 advantage to start the contest on the way to leading by as many as 22 late in the first half. But Tech came through in the end when it mattered, which is something that it had trouble with last season.
“It would always be my preference to have blowout wins,” said point guard Laura Haskins, who tallied eight points, seven rebounds, four assists and three steals. “But you know that isn’t going to happen every game, so it was good to see us hang on to the lead because that was something that we weren’t able to do last year. A lot of times in the second half, you would see teams coming back into the game and then we would kind of let it go, so it was good to see us hang on to it.”
The Hokies held the Spartans (0-1) to single digits until the 6:50 mark of the first half and took a 37-19 lead into the locker room, but the tables were turned in the second stanza. UNCG slowly chipped away at the bulge as Tech went cold from the floor, shooting just 26.7 percent from the field (0-of-5 from 3-point land) in the second period. The Spartans’ Lakiah Hyson hit a pair of free throws at 4:16 to cut Tech’s lead to three at 51-48, and the Hokies clung to that lead for nearly two minutes as the teams went scoreless.
Tech forward Utahya Drye then keyed the ending that the Hokies were looking for when she game up with one of her seven offensive rebounds (nine total) on the night and got fouled. She converted the one-and-one at 2:31 to push the lead to five, 53-48.
“That’s one thing that Coach [Beth Dunkenberger] always tells us – to go to the boards hard,” said Drye, who also added 15 points on 6-of-13 shooting. “They weren’t boxing us out on certain plays, so all that kept going through my mind was, ‘Get this O-board, get this O-board.’ Then when I got fouled, I knew I had to hit those free throws because it could dictate the game.”
After a trapping Hokie defense forced a UNCG miss, Biggs took over, driving the baseline for a layup at 1:47 and answering two more Hyson free throws with a pair of her own at 1:03 to set Tech’s advantage to 57-50. A put-back layup with 23 ticks remaining iced the game for the Hokies while setting her new career high at 14 points. She also grabbed seven rebounds and dished out five assists in an effort to become more of a playmaker now that Tech will be without leading scorer Brittany Cook, who was lost for the season with a torn ACL.
“We talked to Lindsay about being ready to shoot and getting her legs under her,” Dunkenberger said of Biggs’ late buckets. “She and Lakeisha [Logan] both, when they get their footwork down, they are great shooters. And even if they miss a couple shots, they’ve got to continue to work on their footwork and still be ready to let it fly. I thought Lindsay did a nice job of that down the stretch.”
Logan was another Hokie who recorded a new career high, as she hit 5-of-9 with a pair of 3s to record 12 points, which more than doubled her previous high of five.
“I was excited to come out and get into a rhythm and feed off of my teammates,” Logan said. “Like Coach says, our defense fuels our offense, so when my teammates around me are playing good defense, that helps me get into a good rhythm on the offensive end.”
Tech was also without senior post player Amber Hall in this one, as she took a shot to the head in Monday’s exhibition game and is listed as day-to-day. Brittany Gordon and Shani Grey made up for her absence, however, as Gordon tallied five points and six boards, while Grey snagged a career-high nine rebounds.
UNCG was led by Hyson and Amanda Leigh with 11 points each, and Gini Grimsley with 10.
The Hokies, who have now won 16 of their last 17 home openers, return to action on Tuesday with a 7 p.m. tilt against Radford at Cassell Coliseum.
For updates on Virginia Tech women's basketball, follow the Hokies on Twitter (@VT_WBBall).