BLACKSBURG – Despite leading for most of the game, the Virginia Tech women’s basketball team was stymied on the offensive side of the ball in the second half as the visiting Virginia Cavaliers erased an eight-point second-half deficit and escaped Cassell Coliseum with a 50-47 victory in ACC action on Sunday afternoon.
The game, though, came down to the final minutes of action despite the fact that the Hokies made just three field goals in the last 15 minutes. They kept their lead thanks to their defense holding the Cavaliers to no field goals made for almost seven and a half minutes of the second half.
“We are extremely disappointed with the unbelievable amount of effort that went into our end of this game,” Tech coach Dennis Wolff said. “Sometimes you don’t get some of the bounces that you think you’d like to get. We had a couple of plays we would like to have back, but it just didn’t bounce our way there at the end.”
Tech trailed by three, 48-45 – after Virginia made back-to-back baskets to end their drought and take its first lead since midway through the first half – with under three minutes to play.
An Alyssa Fenyn steal led to a Monet Tellier pass to Aerial Wilson who scored on an easy fast-break layup to make it a one-point game. Fenyn came down with a defensive rebound on the subsequent Cavalier possession and Tech had the ball with just 34 seconds remaining.
After a timeout, the ball was moved around before Tellier had it. She inadvertently dribbled the ball off her foot and UVa’s China Crosby then scored on the other end with four ticks left.
With another chance, now to tie the game, Tellier attempted a tough 3-point shot that bounced off the front of the rim, giving the Cavaliers their 14th straight win over the Hokies.
“I was just trying to make a play,” Tellier said. “I saw an opening and then just dribble off my foot.
“(The final shot) looked like it was going to go in. I knew that I had to get a shot off and just tried to do whatever I could to do that.”
Things looked promising for Tech at the outset to end that streak, as they converted four offensive rebounds into nine second-chance points and knocked down seven 3-point baskets in the first half.
Lauren Evans scored nine of her game-high 13 points in the first half, with Wilson, Tellier and Alexis Lloyd all contributing five apiece in the opening stanza as the Hokies shot almost 41 percent from the floor.
“Just our energy in the beginning, we all just get each other going,” Evans said about the Hokies’ 3-point shooting in the first half. “It’s not what shot’s being taken, it’s just those are the open shots, the threes.”
Tellier added, “I think it’s more confidence as well.”
The second half, as Virginia changed up its defensive scheme, was a different story. Tech hit just 20 percent of its shot and missed all of its 3-point attempts (5).
Virginia (15-8, 7-5 ACC) cut its halftime deficit of six in half, before the Hokies responded to build their largest lead of the game at eight at the 15:09 mark.
Nia Evans hit a shot from the corner as the shot clock expired to put Tech up 38-30. But when she scored the 40th point for Tech at the 10:37 mark, it was to break a 38-38 tie, as Virginia knotted it a minute before on a pair of Telia McCall free throws.
“They played zone for three-quarters of the first half,” Wolff said about UVa. “That was how we were able to move the ball, drive their bigs and get some open looks.
“The end of the first half and the rest of the second, they played a switching man-to-man and that caused us a little more trouble. They did a good job of switching their defenses and that made us work a little bit more.”
After Tellier dropped in a layup at the 9:31 mark to make it 42-40, neither team would score from the floor over the next six minutes, with Tech hitting just 3 of 7 from the line and Virginia 4 of 8, which set of the game’s final moments.
“We still had some opportunities and we were still in control of the second half,” Wolff said. “We had some foul shots that didn’t go down and that would have lengthened the lead, that hurt us. And we had a couple opportunities near the basket that we didn’t finish."
Tech (8-15, 2-10 ACC) will next host top-five Duke at Cassell on Thursday night as tip time is scheduled for 7 p.m.
For updates on Virginia Tech women's basketball, follow the Hokies on Twitter (@VT_WBBall).