BLACKSBURG, Va. – Robert Morris had three players reach double figures and account for 82-percent of the offense as the Colonials extended their winning streak to three straight and handed Virginia Tech its first loss of the season at Cassell Coliseum, 66-52, on Saturday afternoon.
For the Colonials (3-5), Yohanna Morton scored a game-high 20 points, her second straight contest with at least 20, and added a career-high eight assists, with six rebounds and two steals. Artemis Spanou chipped in a season-high 18 points with seven rebounds and three blocks, while Kristine Silaraja, the Colonials third player in double figures, finished with 16 points.
Alyssa Fenyn (So., Newark, N.Y.) tied her career-high with 15 points on 6-of-12 shooting, which included a pair of three-point baskets. She also added four steals and her first career block to her totals. Off the bench, freshman LaTorri Hines-Allen (Montclair, N.J.) scored a season-high nine points all after halftime, which sparked a late Virginia Tech run. In all, the Hokie bench contributed 22 points.
“I am not surprised that LaTorri stepped in and had the game she had today, because she’s practiced extremely well for the past week,” said Virginia Tech head coach Beth Dunkenberger. “I think that is a good indicator whether if kids are ready or not.”
The Hokies (5-4) stayed with Robert Morris through the game’s first eight minutes thanks to the three-point shot. After Fenyn used an old-fashioned three to give Virginia Tech a 3-2 lead, they connected on four straight from behind the arc.
Fenyn hit a pair, only the fourth and fifth of her young career, while Nikki Davis (Sr., Lexington, Ken.) and Aerial Wilson (So., Cocoa, Fla.) each made one. When Wilson knocked hers down at the 13:24 mark of the first the Hokies led by three at 15-12.
The lead was back to three (17-14) after Elizabeth Basham (Sr., Abingdon, Va.) scored on a short jumper a minute later.
“We started off scoring well, but when we went into a drought, we did not play defense,” said Dunkenberger. “We are going to have to change some things that we are doing defensively to get us playing a little bit harder.”
However, over the next 15 minutes of game time, Robert Morris would outscore the Hokies 37-9, which included 18 straight over a seven-minute stretch spanning the halves.
Silaraja dropped six in the run, including a shot just before the halftime buzzer, while Spanou scored the first five points after the break. When Robert Morris’ Destiny Harrison completed a three-point play with 17:50 left in the second half, she pushed her team’s lead to 28 at 54-26.
Tech forced the Colonials into five turnovers and held them scoreless for 10 straight possessions, but could only manage nine points during the span.
However, Hines-Allen sparked a 13-2 Hokie run later in the second to pull them to within 12. She scored the final three points in the first run, then back-to-back baskets started the second. Monet Tellier (Fr., Charlotte, N.C.) scored on a steal a fast-break lay-up to make it 60-48 with just under six minutes remaining.
“The last time we played Virginia Tech we had a big lead on them too, and I was having nightmares about that,” said Robert Morris head coach Sal Buscaglia referring to the 76-67 Hokie victory back in 2007 in the Tulane DoubleTree Classic. “We had a 16-point lead in the second half and we end up losing to them on a neutral court at Tulane.
“So, I had a couple flashes there for a second when they were starting to come back and I thought ‘oh, no, we’re not going to have happen what happened on Tulane’s floor’.”
After Morton pushed the Colonials lead back to 14 at the 5:28 mark, each team failed to score on three straight possessions. Hines-Allen made it a 12 point game with 2:53 left, but Robert Morris sealed the win by hitting 4-of-4 from the foul line.
The Colonials win marks just the seventh time the Hokies have lost at home to a non-conference opponent in 80 games, including a pair of postseason losses against Penn State in the 2004 NCAA Second Round and Houston in the 2002 WNIT Semifinals.
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