January 15, 2012
Tech defeated by No. 7/6 Duke
By Marc Mullen
12F
(7) Duke (14-2, 5-0) 332861
Virginia Tech (6-12, 2-3) 161834
  • Cassell Coliseum, Blacksburg, Va. - 2,785
  • High Points: 11 - Alyssa Fenyn
  • High Rebounds: 6 - Monet Tellier

BLACKSBURG, Va. – During a 25-minute stretch, Virginia Tech women’s basketball battled back and forth with one of the top 10 teams in the nation, but it was the other 15 minutes of the game that enabled No. 7/6 Duke to post a 61-34 victory in ACC action on Sunday afternoon in Cassell Coliseum.

The Blue Devils’ Elizabeth Williams led all players with 20 points and a had a game-high-tying seven rebounds, while teammate Richa Jackson added 11 points to help Duke improve to 14-2, 5-0 in the ACC. Alyssa Fenyn scored 11 points for the Hokies and Monet Tellier chipped in with nine points and a team-high six rebounds as Tech fell to 6-12, 2-3 in the conference.

“What I told the kids in the locker room was ‘I thought that we had very good effort’ considering who we were playing and some of the situations that we have going on roster-wise,” head coach Dennis Wolff said. “They got a lot of second shots, they are a little bit bigger than us. We held them to 61 points; we played with some pretty good effort defensively.

“If you’re sitting where (I’m) sitting, you play to win. So, moral victories aren’t what you want. I’m commending these kids because of where we are at in the growth of a new coaching staff. There have been very few times all year that they’ve given up.”

After a couple of miscues in the first minute of play – a backcourt violation, a hand-check foul and allowing an offensive rebound – Duke proved why it is a top 10 team as it could almost do no wrong in the game’s first 10 minutes of action, jumping out to a 20-point lead at 24-4.

The Blue Devils shot 10 for 14 (71.4 percent) from the floor with just five turnovers opposed to the Hokies’ 2 for 13 (15.4 percent) and 10 turnovers. They also hit four free throws to Tech’s zero and held a 9-7 rebounding edge.

However, over the last 10 minutes of the first half, Tech managed to pull to within 13 at 29-16 with 2:32 left before the break as Fenyn and Tellier each knocked down a three and hit two free throws to lead the Hokies in a come-back effort.

“We need to be a little more efficient on offense, and I’m not really sure what the answer is to that,” Wolff said. “I think because we play so hard on defense, we get a little sped up and we get careless at times when we have advantages.

“Teams that have been able to put pressure on our guards, who are statistically our leading scorers. So, if they get rattled, like they did early in the game, we get discombobulated. There has to be a mindset that we can play with these teams so that we don’t dig ourselves into these types of holes.

The numbers in that stretch saw Duke make just 4 of 16 shots (25 percent) and turn the ball over five times, while the Hokies committed just one.

Rebounding was key for Duke in maintaining its lead, as it pulled down 10 offensive rebounds in the span and had a 16-6 advantage. They also closed the half with back-to-back baskets to take a 33-16 lead into the locker rooms.

“Their post presence was very tough, and we only had two post players coming in,” Fenyn said. “(Our post players) did a very good job with battling with them, they just got a lot of second-chance opportunities and they just moved the ball really well on offense.”

Tech continued to stymie the Blue Devil offense in the second half. With nine minutes left in the game, they had only hit two of 10 shots from the floor and had five turnovers in the period.

This time, though, the foul line allowed Duke to keep its lead in double figures converting 10 of 12 in that time as the Hokies had chances to knock their deficit down to within striking distance. However, Duke closed the contest on a 14-2 run to push the final margin to 25.

“We got off to a bad start, but we got back to it a little in the second half,” Wolff said. “I actually thought that in the second half, we cut it to 15 and we had a number of situations on the break that we fouled up – we didn’t get a shot up or we travelled. We could have cut it to 13 or 11. So, I still commend our team for trying to stay competitive at that point.

“We get to a certain point in every game where Alyssa and Monet, they've played almost the whole game. And they're playing against good players and they're getting tired and they make some fatigue mistakes, which are natural.”

The Hokies return to action on Thursday evening, welcoming North Carolina to Cassell Coliseum with the tip scheduled for 5 p.m.

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

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