December 29, 2010
Tech takes care of Alcorn State, 87-44
By Marc Mullen
12F
Alcorn State (1-7) 162844
Virginia Tech (8-4) 454287
  • Cassell Coliseum, Blacksburg, Va. - 2,449
  • High Points: 13 - Shanel Harrison
  • High Rebounds: 7 - Taylor Ayers, Shanel Harrison

BLACKSBURG, Va. – All eleven players who saw action Wednesday night for Virginia Tech scored at least three points to help the team to a third straight win, improve its record to 7-1 at home, and see its largest margin of victory since 2004, as the Hokies capped off the first day of action of the 2010 Hilton Garden Hokie Classic at Cassell Coliseum with an 87-44 victory over Alcorn State.

Shanel Harrison (Jr., Washington, DC) led a quartet of Hokies in double figures with 13 points, adding seven rebounds, while Monet Tellier (Fr., Charlotte, N.C) scored 12 points, her third straight game with at least 10, Nikki Davis (Sr., Lexington, Ky.) finished with 11 points, six assists, and a game-high four steals, and Aerial Wilson (So., Cocoa, Fla.) had 10 points and a career-high eight assists.

“Shanel plays her best games offensively when she plays the way she did defensively, to start that game,” said Virginia Tech head coach Beth Dunkenberger. “When she steps up and she’s a leader for us and she’s focused on the defensive end, her offense comes around.

“I thought she was pretty unselfish, I think she could have had more than 13. She led us, but she had six defensive rebounds, that means she is playing hard on the defensive end. She is around loose balls, the more she steps up and becomes a leader for us, the better she becomes on both ends of the court.”

After allowing the first basket of the contest, the Hokies used a 15-0 run over a three-minute span to take a double-figure lead. Tellier and Brittany Gordon (Sr., Howard County, Md.) each scored five in the run, as Tellier capped it with her first three of the game.

Five minutes later and ahead 21-7, Virginia Tech used a 13-0 run to build a 27-point advantage with Davis scoring six straight in the stretch.

“I thought Nikki did a great job leading, and I told her that I wanted them to step up and lead a little bit more instead of always looking to me,” said Dunkenberger. “She understands the game. I told her I would let her know when there’s something I wanted run, but for her to trust her instincts and when she did that, she did a great job of controlling tempo.”

For good measures – after the Braves scored nine of the game’s next 11 to pull to within 20 – the Hokies closed out the first half with nine straight points with Taylor Ayers (So., Augusta, Ga.) laying in four and Tellier hitting her second three of the night to take a 45-16 lead into the locker room.

Virginia Tech (8-4) shot 56.3% (18-32) from the floor in the first half, which included 4-for-6 from three. They also held advantages in points in the paint (20-8), points off turnovers (32-6), fast-break points (12-2) and bench points (11-2). The Hokies also forced the Braves into 21 first-half turnovers and 28.6% shooting (6-21).

“I’m pleased, we showed some growth, I really like the way we defended in the first half,” said Dunkenberger. “I think we’re getting better as a team. We are starting to make better reads when things break down or at the end of plays or in transition.

“The kids are starting to understand how to score, being ready to score. That is a sign of growth for a young team.”

Alcorn State (1-7) came out in the second half and shot better and held on to the basketball, but could not overcome its deficit at the break. They did, however, outscore the Hokies 18-11 in the first nine minutes of the second half, before a late Virginia Tech 29-6 run increased its lead to as many as 45.

“They were attacking and trying to go into the paint and we were playing a lot of one-on-one defense,” said Dunkenberger. “We talked about playing good helpside defense and locking down that paint like we did in the first half

“I thought we adjusted a bit there, then we went to a zone to save some legs. It’s also hard when you jump out to a big lead like that to keep your intensity, but I think after those first few minutes, we got it back.”

The Braves were led by Tiffany Stewart, who scored a game-high 16 points, while Kiara Ruffin added 11 points and a team-high five rebounds and two assists.

The final 43-point margin of victory marked the largest win since the Virginia Tech defeated Southern Miss, 105-40, on Dec. 28, 2004 in the Hokies’ Lady Luck Classic. The 65-point margin is the largest in school history.

The final day of the 2010 Hilton Garden Hokie Classic will conclude on Thursday, as part of a tripleheader at Cassell Coliseum. The men's team will host USC Upstate at 2 p.m., which will be followed by the consolation game of the tournament, Delaware versus Alcorn State at 5 p.m. The Virginia Tech women will cap-off the day in the championship game against Vanderbilt at 7 p.m.

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

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