BLACKSBURG – Florida Gulf Coast jumped out to an early 13-point lead five minutes into the game and, although Virginia Tech fought valiantly in the second half, the Hokies could not recover and dropped a 63-56 decision to the Eagles in nonconference action at Cassell Coliseum Sunday afternoon.
The youth of the program definitely showed up to play in the loss, as the Hokies’ four freshmen and one sophomore combined for 38 points and 16 rebounds. The Eagles had a pair of players each score 19 points to help their team improve to 5-4, while Tech fell to 4-5.
“We have very little margin of error on offense … and so we are always trying to manufacture offense. And, if we don’t execute like we did to start the game, then we put ourselves in bad positions,” Tech coach Dennis Wolff said. “This is a team that we thought we could beat.
“This is a good team that plays an unusual style. They have five guards and they play differently than anybody else you’ll play at any point. So, we did a better job against them than last year, but we still didn’t do a good enough job.”
After Tech knocked down a free throw, the Eagles scored 14 straight points using screens for open layups and two 3-point baskets by Betsy Adams, who scored a game-high tying 19 points, to open up the double-digit lead.
“We are not at a point where we can start a game like that against a good team and think that we’re going to be able to come back and win,” Wolff said.
The Hokies only once cut their deficit into single digits in the first half after Taijah Campbell, who had missed two of the last three games but scored a team-high 14 points to go with seven rebounds and four blocks, hit a pair of shots in a 6-0 run.
“I wasn’t too worried about making mistakes,” Campbell said of her performance on Sunday. “I just played … I would focus on how to help my team.
“I was excited to be back. It’s hard to sit on the bench and watch, but you do learn more when you’re sitting on the bench. I was excited to play with my teammates again.”
Florida Gulf Coast still seemed in control midway through the second half, before the Hokies used a 10-1 run to get to within a basket. Freshmen Lauren Evans and Alexis Lloyd, sophomore Larryqua Hall, and junior Nia Evans all hit shots in the run. Senior Alyssa Fenyn, who had 10 points, converted a pair of free throws to make it 52-50 with 3:50 left in the game.
“The team deserves a lot of credit to where we had a chance to tie the game, but then we made a couple of mistakes,” Wolff said. “I’m proud of their effort, but as we are all aware, this is about winning and losing and we didn’t start the game right and then we had breakdowns at inopportune times.”
Tech had two possessions in which they could have tied the game, but turned the ball over on one and Fenyn would missed a pair of free throws on the other. The Eagles then hit back-to-back threes, virtually sealing the game.
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