BLACKSBURG – For the second straight Sunday afternoon in Cassell Coliseum the Virginia Tech women’s basketball team played an overtime game. Unfortunately for the Hokies, they could not repeat last week’s result when Serafina Maulupe’s 35-foot shot as time expired hit the front rim, which saw Tech drop a 72-71 decision to No. 14/17 NC State in an ACC battle.
NC State (21-3, 8-2 ACC) had three players in double figures led by Markeisha Gatling’s 23 points and Kody Burke’s 20. The Hokies (11-12, 1-9 ACC) also had three players score at least 10 points led by Uju Ugoka’s 20 points, while Monet Tellier and Vanessa Panousis each added 16.
“I was really proud of them today,” Tech head coach Dennis Wolff said. “It was a good game. It was a terrific effort by our kids and we came up a shot short. (The team) didn’t play a good game Thursday night and they came back, practiced and approached today’s game in the right frame of mind and that’s the only way to do it.
“Those two girls (Gatling and Burke) are big and good and they are well coached and they are patient in getting them the ball. There was a lot of effort that went in by everyone to defend them and they still each had 20 points.”
Interestingly, the game was not decided by either of the players mentioned above, and came from women who had combined to shoot 2 of 16 from the floor through the contest’s first 44 minutes and had just five points before the final 30 seconds.
Trailing by two in the overtime period, Tech forced a Burke miss and Tellier pulled down the rebound. She then found an open Hannah Young on the wing just outside the 3-point arc and Young let fly and drained the basket giving the Hokies a 71-70 lead.
After officials reviewed to see if Young’s foot was on the line – it was not – NC State worked some offense before calling a timeout to draw up a play with nine second left. The inbounds pass went to Len’Nique Brown near the top of the key and even though Gatling had some position near the basket, Brown floated a jumper just inside the foul line, which went in for the, eventual, game winner with four ticks left.
“There’s not much I can say, I just wish we had another basket in the game,” Wolff said. “That’s where I am at. We got a very good shot and the circumstances for them at the end, (Brown) made a really tough shot over Vanessa and if that bounces out and we rebound, we win.”
The Hokies, then NC State, both called timeouts before Tech ran its final play. Tellier got the inbound pass dribbled it passed half court and found Maulupe, who actually found her shot in the game.
Prior to Sunday, she hadn’t hit more than one 3-point basket since Nov. 17, but made 3 of 5 for nine points this afternoon. She attempted the desperation shot and came up about a foot short.
“I’m was just feeling more confident on the court and just playing my game and just feeling loose and just had a clear mind on the court,” Maulupe said. “The coaches were telling me to get ready, to get my feet set and be ready to look and shoot, and I was. (The shot) was far, but I just did my best to make it. It just didn’t happen.”
“We were in that time frame where there is a little more time … so I didn’t think we needed to throw the ball in the air,” Wolff said. “We wanted to get the ball in Mo’s hands going forward and have her look for Serafina or Vanessa, and Mo did a good job. And the shot was online to go in. Serafina stepped right in and shot it and unfortunately it didn’t go it.”
Tech will turn to a pair of times when it had 10-point advantages in the game only to see the Wolfpack erase them. The first was with 3:20 left in the first half, when – ironically – Young put the Hokies up 30-20 with her only other basket. NC State closed the half on an 8-0 run and scored the first basket out of the locker room to knot the game.
The second time – with 12:22 left in regulation – Tellier capped a 9-0 run for the Hokies with a lay-up, her 11th point of the game and – ironically – the 1,300th of her Tech career. The Wolfpack, though, slowly chipped away and tied it with 2:10 remaining.
Ugoka and Gatling would trade baskets to keep it a tie game at 60-60 with 20 seconds remaining in regulation and the Hokies had a Panousis jumper just before the buzzer fall short to force the extra session.
“NC State pressured us in the back court and tried to make it a full-court game,” Wolff said. “And, not for lack of effort, we just sometimes get a little scattery with the ball and that gives the other team a little push and a little confidence.”
Tech will take to the road for its next two games, at Wake Forest on Thursday, Feb. 13 with an 8:30 tip (a game on RSN) and will head to Charlottesville on Sunday, Feb. 16 for a game at Virginia that starts at 2 p.m.
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