GREENSBORO, N.C. – No. 12 seed Virginia Tech could not pull off an upset in the first game of the ACC Women’s Basketball Championship at the Greensboro Coliseum Thursday morning and ended its season with an 81-58 defeat at the hands of the No. 5 seed Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.
Virginia Tech, who finished the 2010-11 season 11-19, was led by Nikki Davis (Sr., Lexington, Ky.) with a game-high 15 points, three assists and three steals, while Shanel Harrison (Jr., Washington, D.C.) added 10 points and six boards.
The Hokies chose the wrong time to post their lowest output for the season in a first half (14) and commit a season-high 33 turnovers, which was turned into 38 points by their opponents.
“We’ve had good games breaking the press,” Virginia Tech coach Beth Dunkenberger said. “Obviously, we struggled with their full-court pressure. I thought Georgia Tech played extremely well. I give them a lot of credit.
“But I also credit our kids with perseverance. When things were down, battling back in the second half, not giving up, continuing to fight and trying to end with some dignity.”
Taylor Ayers (So., Augusta, Ga.) scored the first point for Virginia Tech, on a free throw with 17:48 on the clock, to make it a 5-1 contest. When she went back to the foul line with 4:21 left before the break, and again went 1-for-2 from the line, she finally got the Hokies into double figures. They now trailed 31-10.
In the first, there wasn’t the extended stretch of scoreless minutes that usually plagues the Hokies – the most time between points was four minutes. The problem was they never scored on back-to-back trips down the floor until Ayers scored her first basket of the night. She followed her made free throw with an offensive lay-up the next time down the court that made it 31-12.
Meanwhile, Georgia Tech was scoring inside (16 points in the point), outside (15 points from behind the arc), off turnovers (25), off the glass (12 second-chance points), on the break (9), and from the bench (22) – all in the first half.
If Virginia Tech fans were hoping for a miracle comeback, like the 55-point second half outburst when it trailed Vanderbilt by 15 at the half, that would be immediately squashed by the Yellow Jackets. They scored 15 of the first 18 points out of the locker rooms and went on to build a game-high 42-point advantage.
All that was left was the final margin of victory, a contrast to the first meeting between the two teams in Blacksburg five weeks ago. Virginia Tech committed just 13 turnovers in the entire game and trailed by just nine at halftime. The Hokies scored 44 second-half points, which included hitting six 3-pointers.
“First, I thought Virginia Tech played extremely hard,” Georgia Tech coach MaChelle Joseph said. “They never quit. Right to the very end, you saw them making those threes and playing extremely hard.
“That’s all you can ever ask of your team is they leave it all out there. I really felt they played extremely hard for 40 minutes.”
With a date versus No. 4 Maryland less than 24 hours away, Georgia Tech rested its starters and went deep on their bench as 15 Yellow Jackets played and no starter logged more than 19 minutes.
Hokie seniors Davis, Brittany Gordon (Howard County, Md.) and Elizabeth Basham (Abingdon, Va.), who tied a career-high with 10 points all in the second half, were all on the court as the final buzzer sounded on their careers at Tech.
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