December 30, 2009
Hokies claim Hilton Garden Classic with 56-54 win over Charlotte
Biggs named tourney MVP
12F
Charlotte (6-7) 223254
Virginia Tech (9-4) 272956
  • Cassell Coliseum, Blacksburg, Va. - 2,264
  • High Points: 19 - Lindsay Biggs
  • High Rebounds: 7 - Shanel Harrison

BLACKSBURG, Va. – Lindsay Biggs’ game-high 19 points, 16 of which came in the second half, was enough to lift the Virginia Tech women’s basketball team to a 56-54 win over Charlotte in the tightly contested Hilton Garden Classic title game on Wednesday night at Cassell Coliseum.

“Lindsay did what senior captains are supposed to do,” Tech head coach Beth Dunkenberger said. “She didn’t shoot the ball well in the first half, but she was a competitor and she continued to look for her spots.”

Fellow senior Utahya Drye joined Biggs in double figures by scoring 12 points, as the two combined to lead the Hokies (9-4) to the tournament title for the 11th time in the past 12 years. Last year was the first time Tech had lost a game in its annual holiday tournament, now in its 20th year, since 1997.

Though the 49ers (6-7) led just once early in the game, they cut the lead to one on four occasions in the second half, and each time, Biggs or Drye answered with a big shot to cushion the Hokies’ lead.

The first time was at 13:41 of the second half, when Charlotte’s Shannon McCallum made it 35-34 with a put-back, but Drye responded with a jumper. Kendria Holmes then hit a jumper of her own on Charlotte’s next possession to make it 37-36, but Biggs fired back with one of her three treys to give Tech a four-point lead.

“We’re the seniors and that’s our job, so we wanted to get it done,” Biggs said of her and Drye’s clutch performances. “You can’t just stop shooting because that’s obviously not going to work. You’ve got to keep your head up.”

Charlotte’s Aysha Jones hit a 3 at 4:04 to cut Tech’s lead 48-47, but a Biggs jumper a minute and a half later got it back up to three. Two free throws by McCallum at 1:22 made things interesting, but Drye ripped down an offensive rebound and laid it in with 55 ticks left to score arguably the most important bucket of the game.

It’s fitting that the key shot came off of an offensive rebound, because Charlotte dominated on the offensive glass all night, grabbing 23 offensive boards to just 20 defensive boards. But Drye made hers count the most.

“The thing about rebounding is, it can cost you the game or it can help you win the game,” Drye said. “I just knew that it was going to boil down to the battle on the boards. Luckily, the ball bounced my way and I was able to get it and put it back.”

Tech would sink four more free throws before the end of the game to negate five Charlotte points in the final 13 seconds, and Drye credited that to Tech’s aggressiveness.

“I know in the past, we’ve kind of played keep away when we were up [in a close game],” she said. “But tonight, we played as a unit and we kept playing our game. It’s very tempting to just hold the ball and not run the offense, but you can’t do that because the shot clock is going to continue to run and you’re going end up forcing a bad shot. So we just wanted to keep running our offense and looking for an open player.”

The Hokies will return to action on Sunday with a 2 p.m., tip off against Maryland-Baltimore County at Cassell Coliseum.

The New Jersey Institute of Technology defeated Central Connecticut State by a score of 69-66 in the consolation game.

Biggs was named the MVP of the event, and she was joined on the all-tournament team by Drye, Jones, Charlotte’s Ashley Spriggs, NJIT’s Taiwo Oyelola and CCSU’s Kerrianne Dugan.

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

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