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BLACKSBURG – For just the seventh time in 38 seasons, the Virginia Tech women’s basketball team opened the year with four straight wins, as the Hokies defeated visiting Bucknell, 87-49, in nonconference action in Cassell Coliseum Sunday afternoon.
In the process, the Hokies set the school record for made 3 pointers in a game with 13 and tied the program record for assists in a game in the building (now done three times) with 28 opposed to just nine turnovers.
“I’m really proud of the girls – four games, seven days and they still have a lot of life and a lot of energy,” Tech head coach Dennis Wolff said. “I told them in the locker room, I’ve coached a lot of games and I don’t know if I’ve had a stat line where there were 28 assists and only nine turnovers.
“I’m really proud of them across the board. I’m happy for Serafina (Maulupe), she’s worked very hard and these other two (Uju Ugoka and Hannah Young) have played very well. I thought Uju was really active and I thought Hannah, she might not have had the numbers, but played a great floor game. We are happy to be 4-0.”
A tight game through the first seven minutes of action, Tech used an 18-0 run over a span of six minutes to take command of the game. Ugoka started the stretch with a pair of baskets. Maulupe, a freshman guard, continued it by knocking down a pair of 3 pointers. Then, Young sandwiched a Ugoka basket with two of her own 3 pointers.
Young’s second three, at the 6:42 mark, put the Hokies up 35-14. After Maulupe drained another of her four 3 pointers of the afternoon with 2:54 left before halftime, Tech pushed its lead to 21 and the Bison would never get it under 20 the rest of the day.
“What I like about these girls is that they keep playing,” Wolff said. “The Old Dominion game, we were in control, but were in foul trouble and fought through it. Last game, against Florida, we were in control, but got a little fatigued and they fought back, but we still made plays.
“The nice thing from a coach’s standpoint is that we have different kids making plays … We’ve all watched the last few years and when we get to something that’s tight, it’s all on Monet (Tellier), every game. And it was a ridiculous situation she was in and now it’s not that way.”
Speaking of Tellier, for the second straight contest, she was held below 10 points. Entering the year, the Hokies had lost 11 straight when she didn’t score in double figures and were just 7-27 (a .206 winning percentage) in her three previous seasons. When she did score at least 10, they were 23-35 (a .397 winning percentage). In both cases, they are 2-0 this season.
Tellier scored nine points and added nine assists for the second straight game, tying her career high. Those points did see her move from the 19th-place position in scoring all-time at the school into the 16th spot with 1,095 points. She passed Angie Kelly (1982-1986, 1,092 points), Sarah Hicks (1997-2002, 1,092) and Kirby Copeland (2003-07, 1,094) and next on the list is Michelle (Hollister) Houseright who had 1,112 points in her career.
In the game, the Hokies were led by Ugoka, who notched the seventh double-double of her Tech career and second straight, with 21 points and 10 rebounds. Maulupe had 14 points, three assists and two steals in 21 minutes off the bench, while Young had eight points, eight rebounds, three assists and three blocks. Taijah Campbell and Vanessa Panousis each chipped in nine points.
“Our ability to shoot enabled Uju to have more room inside,” Wolff said. “It’s as simple as that. Uju is very difficult to guard in the lane and if (the defense) has to come out on these girls when we spread the floor, like they have to, it makes it hard.
“So, these girls have done a great job. They’ve worked hard and I’m proud of them.”
The Hokies have dispatched their first four opponents by an average of almost 29 points – beating all four of them by double digits. The last time that happened was during the 2004-05 season (Dec. 28 – Jan. 6) and it was the first time the Hokies scored 70-plus points in their first four games to open a season since the 1985-86 campaign.
More notes on the four straight wins include the first four-game winning streak in the Wolff era and the first four-game winning streak since December 2010.
Bucknell, who dropped to 1-2 with the loss, was led by Audrey Dotson, who scored 16 points, while no other player had more than six.
Just four times in Tech’s history have the Hokies started a season 5-0 and in three of them, they won at least 21 games and advanced to the NCAA tournament. The 2013-14 Hokies will look to join that group when they take on Hofstra in Hempstead, N.Y. on Saturday night with tip scheduled for 7 p.m.
For updates on Virginia Tech women's basketball, follow the Hokies on Twitter (@VT_WBBall).