BLACKSBURG – For the first 20 minutes of the Virginia Tech women’s basketball ACC game with visiting Georgia Tech at Cassell Coliseum Thursday night, it appeared the Hokies could end their five-game skid and register their first conference win of the season.
However, midway through the second half, the Yellow Jackets amped up their intensity and turned a seven-point deficit into a 21-point victory. Georgia Tech improved to 13-6, 3-3 in the ACC with the 73-52 win, while the Hokies dropped to 10-8, 0-5 in league play.
“It’s the first time all year I’ve been disappointed, win or lose,” Hokies’ head coach Dennis Wolff said. “We lost our composure. We didn’t compete as hard as we needed to in that stretch in the second half when the game got away from us.
“We didn’t really approach things the right way the last day or so in practice and that was a bit concerning to me and that carried over to this.”
The Hokies did almost everything right in the first half, as they took a 25-19 lead into the locker room. The specialty stats were all in their favor – 10-2 in offensive rebounds, 6-2 in points off turnovers and 8-1 in second-chance points. Even their bench outscored Georgia Tech’s 7-5.
The Yellow Jackets, who have outrebounded their opponents in all but two games now – the Hokies held on for a 37-36 edge – and have recorded at least 12 second-chance points in all but one game this season, thanks to forcing more than 20 turnover per game, made it a different game in the second half.
“You need to give Georgia Tech a lot of credit, they have a lot of athletes and they kept it on us,” Wolff said. “They kept it on us in the three-quarter court and once we crossed over half court, we were still being pressured and we didn’t react well to the pressure. So they sped us out of what we wanted to do.
"I thought, at that point, whatever it was the 11 or 12-minute mark where we were soft and that was the first time I thought that this year. We can't be that way in this league. They beat us to loose balls. They got on the offensive glass. We didn't finish plays ... and the game got away from us."
Sparked by a Tyaunna Marshall 3-pointer, Georgia Tech used a 20-5 run to take control of the game with 8:08 left and then they cruised to the win by scoring a total of 54 second-half points.
Marshall scored 12 of her game-high 30 points in the span, while Aaliyah Whiteside accounted for six of her nine in the run. Marshall, who is fifth in the league in scoring, added seven boards and five assists to her totals. Kaela Davis, who is the league’s third-leading scorer at 18.6 points per game, was held to just 12 points.
“We played a box-and-1 on Davis to try and limit her touches. We did a good job, she didn’t score in the first half,” Wolff said. “She hit that 3 to start the second half. We didn’t contain penetration at the top of the box and then we allowed them to get second shots … and that either led to a basket or a foul.
“(Marshall) is just a very good player. She stays with it. She is very aggressive and composed and, with us taking Davis out, she was smart in the way she looked for her openings.”
The typical bright spot for the Hokies was Uju Ugoka’s 10th double-double of the season, which is the third most in the ACC. Ugoka, who’s second in the league in scoring, had 22 points and 10 rebounds, while Taijah Campbell added 10 points and seven boards.
“I think some of these kids, in this particular game, that missed shots are better shooters than they are right now,” Wolff said. “We see them make shots in practice and we believe they can make shots. We just need to continue to stay with it and they have to have their feet set and step into a game like in practice, so that they can carry it over into the game.”
Virginia Tech will now go on the road for its next two games, first starting with a trip to Florida State to face the Seminoles on Sunday with tip slated for 2 p.m.
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