February 12, 2009
Hurricanes edge Hokies 59-56
Gordon grabs career-high 13 rebounds

BLACKSBURG, Va.After scoring five points over a 54-second span during the game’s final minute and 35 seconds, Virginia Tech allowed an ill-timed offensive rebound and put-back by Miami’s Lamese James with seven ticks on the clock, and fell to the Hurricanes 59-56 on Thursday in ACC women’s basketball action at Cassell Coliseum.

Miami held its largest lead, 57-51, after Epiphany Woodson hit a pair of free throws with 1:46 on the clock, but the Hokies quickly made up the ground with a Shanel Harrison free throw, a Brittany Gordon layup and a Laura Haskins jumper.

Up 57-56, the Hurricanes called a timeout with 41 seconds left to regroup. However, the Hokies’ defense drained the clock, forcing Woodson into a hurried attempt at the shot-clock buzzer. It was no good, but that’s when James crashed the boards from the weak side and put home the clinching bucket with seven seconds left.

Tech still had two timeouts to burn, but instead opted to race down the floor in an effort to catch the Hurricanes off balance. Lindsay Biggs’ 3-point attempt at the horn was off the mark, and Tech fell to 11-14 overall and 1-9 in the ACC. Miami improved to 13-11 on the year and 2-7 in conference play.

“I went back and forth [on the decision to use one of those timeouts],” Tech head coach Beth Dunkenberger said. “But Miami switches on all screens and I thought that if we attacked and got in the gut, we might be able to get a wide-open 3-pointer a little easier than if we stopped, called a timeout and allowed them to reset.

“Hindsight is 20/20, but I really thought we’d get a little bit better leadership in attacking off the bounce. I just thought our opportunities in transition might be better than in the half-court, just because of the type of defense that they play.”

It was a bit of a wild ending to a second half that featured six ties and three lead changes – a much different pace than the first half that ended with the Hokies up 31-27 at the break. Tech jumped out to a 10-2 lead and eventually held a 12-point advantage, 23-11, with 7:33 remaining in the first period. But Miami ended the half on a 16-8 run that reminded Dunkenberger of the loss to NC State on Feb. 1.

“This game was eerily reminiscent of our NC State game [when Tech led by five at the break and lost by 11), and I told the team that at the half,” Dunkenberger said. “We had done just enough to come in with a lead. Then our defensive intensity wasn’t there [in the second half]. We were not on the same page, we didn’t get our matchups and NC State got open looks.”

The Wolfpack was able to turn those open looks into 32 second-half points on 44.8 percent shooting, while the Hokies managed a success rate of just 29.4 percent in the period. Tech went without a made 3-pointer in the game for just the second time this season.

Individually, Utahya Drye led the Hokies with 12 points, though all of them came in the first half. Gordon just missed out on her first double-double by scoring nine points and grabbing a career-high 13 rebounds. Laura Haskins joined Drye in double figure with 10 points, and by dishing out two assists, the senior moved into fifth place on Tech’s all-time list with 372, passing Lisa Leftwich’s mark of 371. Biggs swatted a career-high three shots and Nikki Davis tied a personal best with six dimes.

The Hokies will look to bounce back to the win column on Sunday when they take on Wake Forest at 3 p.m. in Winston-Salem, N.C.

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

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