January 14, 2010
Hokies shock 10th-ranked UNC 79-64
By Matt Kovatch - Inside Hokie Sports
(10) North Carolina (13-3, 1-1 ACC) 313364
Virginia Tech (11-5, 1-1 ACC) 354479
  • Cassell Coliseum, Blacksburg, Va. - 2,325
  • High Points: 19 - Lindsay Biggs
  • High Rebounds: 9 - Utahya Drye

BLACKSBURG, Va. – Can a 15-point blowout victory, one in which the winning team led by as many as 23 with eight minutes to play, be accurately called an upset?

Maybe, maybe not. But for the Virginia Tech women’s basketball team, the answer is a resounding yes.

The Hokies (11-5, 1-1), winless against ranked teams since early 2006 and winless against preseason ACC favorite North Carolina (13-3, 1-1) since 1984, pulled off one for the memories on Thursday night, toppling the 10th-ranked Tar Heels to record a 79-64 victory in the conference home opener at Cassell Coliseum.

“It’s so exciting,” junior guard Nikki Davis said afterward. “I can’t really describe the feeling. Everyone is jumping around in the locker room. It’s great, especially for our seniors. I’m so happy that they could get a win like that.”

“It feels great,” said one of those seniors, Utahya Drye, a Durham, N.C., native who grew up watching UNC. “I’ve always wanted to beat Carolina. I’m so proud of my team. They gave me, Lindsay [Biggs] and Lakeisha [Logan] a great win in our senior season. I’m at a loss for words right now.”

Not only was the win just the Hokies’ third all-time against the Tar Heels, but it was also their first win over a top-10 team since they beat Duke on Nov. 15, 1998. In fact, it was just Tech’s fourth win all-time over a top-10 team, and the previous three all came by seven points or less.

But the Hokies completed this upset in dominating fashion, outclassing the much taller Tar Heels in every facet of the game aside from rebounding. Though Carolina grabbed 51 rebounds to Tech’s 37, 29 of them came on the offensive end as a result of the Hokies’ defense limiting Carolina to 33 percent shooting for the game.

Meanwhile, Tech hit 49 percent of its shots, many of which came off of one of UNC’s 24 turnovers. The Hokies tallied 32 points off of turnovers, as well as 50 points in the paint, as they routinely found the open player for the easy bucket.

One of those players was junior Brittany Gordon, who scored a career-high 17 points despite fouling out of the game.

“I told Brittany that she needed to catch and score, and to get offensive boards and score,” said Tech head coach Beth Dunkenberger. “Carolina has great shot blockers. They help off the drive, but that means the weak-side boards and weak-side passes are going to be open. Brittany was ready to step to the ball and score. She was very poised.”

At 6-foot-4, Gordon was especially important because the Tar Heels possess so many talented post players. But she routinely beat them down the floor for easy points, and she also chipped in seven rebounds.

“Honestly, before the game, we were a little bit concerned because they had two or three girls who were 6-foot-6,” said Davis, who dished out a career-high 11 assists, several of which went to Gordon. “But Brittany held her own tonight. She did really well offensively and defensively. She fouled out, but she was being physical and that’s something we love to see.”

Gordon was joined in double figures by Biggs (19), Drye (16) and freshman Alyssa Fenyn (10). Biggs, who drained 8-of-16, including three 3-pointers, gave the Hokies their first lead of the game when she completed a personal 8-0 run at 10:14 of the first half with a put-back that made it 18-17. Thanks to a defense that swatted a season-high seven shots in the first half alone, and one that held UNC to a field-goal percentage of 28.6 percent, Tech led 35-31 at the intermission.

But the Hokies never took their foot off the gas. They opened the second stanza on a 7-0 run that caused UNC to call a timeout, but extended that spurt to 29-10 when Drye recorded her 1,000th career point on a layup at the 8:20 mark to give Tech a lead of 23 points.

Carolina answered with a quick 10-0 run to cut the lead to 13 with six minutes left, but it was a run that Tech was ready for.

“You have to expect runs with North Carolina, you know, because it’s North Carolina,” Davis said. “You have to expect things like that, but we weathered the storm. We knew it was coming, but we had to be prepared for it and we stayed together as a team.”

Freshman Porschia Hadley, who nearly doubled her career blocks total of five by sending away four shots, stopped the bleeding with a jumper at 5:45. The teams traded points from there on out, as the Hokie faithful prepared to rush the court. But Tech stayed the course until it knew the game was in hand.

“I felt like we had it when it was at the one-minute mark,” Drye admitted. “We knew that with four minutes left, Carolina could still make a run. We just needed to keep our composure and play until the end.”

“It hit me with like, a minute to go,” Biggs echoed. “I looked up and I was like, ‘Wow, we’re about to win this game.’ I don’t know when it hit everyone else, but it was definitely exciting.”

Though the Tar Heels got double-figure scoring from three players – Chay Shegog netted 13, She’la White tallied 12 and Laura Broomfield added 11 (to go with 14 rebounds) – their two stars, guards Cetera DeGraffenreid and Italee Lucas, combined to go just 4-of-24 from the field. Carolina has now dropped two in a row after suffering a 41-point loss to No. 1 Connecticut on Saturday.

The Hokies will return to action on Monday with a chance to make it two straight against ranked teams, as No. 23 Virginia comes to Cassell Coliseum for a 5 p.m., contest that will be televised by RSN. The Tech men’s team will follow with a game against North Carolina Central at 8 p.m.

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

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