BLACKSBURG, Va. – Despite shooting just 18 percent in the first half and trailing by two at the break, the Virginia Tech women’s basketball team defeated Savannah State in runaway fashion on Thursday at Cassell Coliseum, winning 68-41 in its final non-conference game of the season.
The Hokies finished the non-conference portion of their schedule 11-4 and improved to 13-11 overall, while the Lady Tigers dropped to 9-18 and have lost 14 of their last 15 games.
Sophomore Shanel Harrison had a career night for the Hokies, scoring a personal-best 18 points on 6-of-9 from the floor and 5-of-6 from the free-throw line. She also tied a career-high with four blocked shots, and added eight rebounds, four assists and two steals.
Senior Lindsay Biggs added 15 points, all in the second half, on 7-of-15 shooting, and also tied a career high with three blocks. Senior Utahya Drye added 11 points to tie Michelle Houseright (1995-99) for 14th on Tech’s all-time scoring list. Junior Nikki Davis dished out a game-high eight assists and freshman Alyssa Fenyn grabbed eight rebounds off the bench.
The Lady Tigers gave Tech a scare in the first half, finishing the period on an 18-5 run that put them up 23-21. The Hokies played the final 12:29 of the half without hitting a field goal, and finished the period hitting just 6-of-32 from the field. They also committed eight turnovers to just four assists.
“It was a tale of two halves and obviously, I much prefer the second half to the first,” Tech head coach Beth Dunkenberger said after the game. “We saw the difference when were a team that played together, got organized on the offensive end and executed better. We went from shooting 18 percent to shooting 70 percent [in the second half]. A lot of that has to do with shot selection and us being on the same page.”
Tech came out a different team after the intermission, hitting eight of its first 10 shots on its way to 21-of-30 for the period. The Hokies outscored Savannah State 47-18 in the game’s final 20 minutes, falling one point shy of their highest single-half output of the season. They also improved their ball-handling, recording 14 assists to nine turnovers.
“Pretty much running our offensive sets,” Harrison said of the difference in performance from one half to the next. “We went into halftime and I think we only ran about a total of four plays. I don’t know how many we ran in the second half, but it was definitely a difference.”
“We talked about defensive intensity [at the half], but more than anything, we talked about getting on the same page and actually running an offense and making their defense work a little bit,” Dunkenberger added. “When we did that, we got some better looks.”
Tech finished the game shooting 43.5 percent, while holding Savannah State to 17.4 percent in the second half and 23.5 percent overall. Mattisha Mangum led the Lady Tigers with 10 points.
The Hokies are scheduled to return to action on Sunday with an ACC clash against No. 7/8 Duke. Tip-off is set for 2 p.m.
For updates on Virginia Tech women's basketball, follow the Hokies on Twitter (@VT_WBBall).