January 8, 2009
Comeback falls short as Hokies lose to FSU, 67-63
By Matt Kovatch - Inside Hokie Sports
Florida State (13-4, 1-0 ACC) 363167
Virginia Tech (8-6, 0-1 ACC) 273663
  • Cassell Coliseum, Blacksburg, Va. - 1,458
  • High Points: 18 - Utahya Drye
  • High Rebounds: 11 - Shanel Harrison

BLACKSBURG, Va. Down by 19 midway through the second half, the Virginia Tech women’s basketball team put forth a gutsy comeback effort before ultimately falling 67-63 to Florida State in the ACC opener for both teams on Thursday at Cassell Coliseum.

Virginia Tech, which is now 16-12 all-time in conference openers and 19-9 in home conference openers, fell to 8-6 overall on the season with the loss. Florida State, which just upset third-ranked Texas A&M on Monday, improved to 13-4.

“I thought our team showed a lot of heart and a lot of character tonight,” Tech head coach Beth Dunkenberger said. “We had some situations where we made some bad decisions and found ourselves down a good bit, but we dug deep when our backs were against the wall and found a way to get back in it and make it a game.”

It was a game of runs and the Seminoles went on the first one, using a barrage of early 3-pointers to build a healthy 18-point lead. Florida State hit six trifectas – they only average 4.7 treys per game – in the first 10 minutes alone to open up a 29-11 advantage.

“Defensively, I think we were so concerned about them going into the paint (FSU’s Jacinta Monroe, who averages 14 points per game, was limited to six in this one) that we didn’t get out on the perimeter like we needed to,” Dunkenberger explained. “We also simply had some missed defensive assignments and they got some open looks.”

But the Hokies chipped away and eventually ended the half by out-scoring Florida State 13-2 over the final 4:25 to make it 36-27 at halftime.

The success was short-lived, however, as Florida State got it right back at the start of the second, beginning the period on a 12-4 run to bust the lead back open to 17, 48-31, before the 14-minute mark.

The game looked out of reach, but the Hokies had one more burst left in them.

“When you get down like that, you obviously can’t give up,” said Tech’s Lindsay Biggs, who scored 15 points thanks to four 3-pointers. “There was a lot of time left in the game. We fought back and made it a close one and that says a lot about our team.”

The Hokies scored 23 of the game’s next 32 points to make it a six-point game, 61-56, with 1:53 on the clock. Florida State’s Cierra Bravard muscled home a layup with 1:39 left, but Tech’s Utahya Drye, who tallied a game-high 18 points, answered with back-to-back buckets to make it 63-60 in the Seminoles’ favor with 44 ticks remaining.

Tech fouled FSU’s Courtney Ward with 26 seconds left and she drained two free throws to push the lead to five, but Biggs’ fourth trey of the night with 16 seconds remaining put the Hokies within two at 65-63.

Florida State’s Mara Freshour sank another pair of charity tosses after Tech stopped the clock with a foul, and the Hokies failed to get a final shot off before time expired.

“I couldn’t get open,” Biggs said of the final sequence. “I guess I could’ve just flung one up there, but I was trying to get the best shot possible. I probably should have just tried to get one off, but they were on me pretty good and I couldn’t get open enough.”

While Biggs and Drye paced the Hokies in scoring, freshman Shanel Harrison continued to impress with an inspired effort off the bench. She recorded her second double-double of the season by netting 12 points to go with a career- and game-high 11 rebounds.

“My role is to come out strong, be aggressive and use my body in the post,” said Harrison, who also made three steals. “I’m not as tall as other post players, but I’m strong, so I use my body to get boards.”

While Harrison and the Hokies held Monroe in check, they had no answer for Bravard, Florida State’s other post player. The 6-foot-4 center went 6-of-10 for 14 points with six rebounds and three blocks. Freshour, Ward and Tanae Davis-Cain all scored 12 points each for the Seminoles.

Tech will take to the road this Sunday for a 2 p.m. tilt at Boston College, which eliminated the Hokies from the ACC Tournament last season, 57-47.

For updates on Virginia Tech women's basketball, follow the Hokies on Twitter (@VT_WBBall).

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