January 29, 2015
No. 4 Notre Dame too much for Hokies
By Marc Mullen
(4) Notre Dame (20-2, 7-1) 433174
Virginia Tech (10-11, 1-7) 173350
  • Cassell Coliseum, Blacksburg, Va. - 1,835
  • High Points: 13 - Hannah Young
  • High Rebounds: 5 - Sidney Cook, Taijah Campbell

BLACKSBURGFacing its third ranked opponent in its last four games, the Virginia Tech women’s basketball team dropped its most lopsided ACC decision of the season with a 74-50 loss to No. 4 Notre Dame Thursday night in Cassell Coliseum.

With the win, Notre Dame, who’s been an NCAA finalist three of the past four years, improved to 20-2 overall and 7-1 in the ACC. The Hokies’ record falls to 10-11 on the season, 1-7 in league play.

“We just played a very good team,” Tech head coach Dennis Wolf said. “You’ve got to credit everything that they’ve done. They play really smart. They take advantage of just about any situation and that’s obviously a big problem.

“Our approach in the first half was not good. I thought we were really tentative and we played back on our heels and that led to a lot of easy baskets that took us out of it. We didn’t start this game like the way we talked about.”

Tech actually took a 3-1 lead two minutes into the game after Hannah Young drained a 3-point basket. Young finished the night as the only Hokie in double figures as she scored a team-high 13 points, her third straight game reaching double figures.

The Fighting Irish followed with a 9-0 run over the next four minutes before Vanessa Panousis stopped their momentum, for the moment, with a jumper. After Young connected on one of two free throw attempts, the Irish used a 12-0 run to take control of the contest. Jewell Loyd drained a pair of 3-point baskets – two of the five Notre Dame hit in the first half – in the span.

“We were stuck between a rock and a hard place a little bit because we were in some foul trouble and so we ended up going to the zone,” Wolff said. “And because they are an extremely well-coached team, they did what you want to do against a zone – which is get some inside touches.

“That caused us to compact a little bit and those girls pass the ball really well and they are just very capable outside shooters.”

With five minutes left before the break, Tech trailed by 15 points after Samantha Hill scored on a fast-break layup, but Notre Dame closed out the half scoring 13 straight and took a 43-17 lead into the locker rooms. The 43 points were the most the team has allowed in the first half of any game this season.

In the second half, the teams battled evenly but the Hokies never put a serious dent into Notre Dame’s commanding lead and the game was won by the Irish on hustle plays – turning nine offensive rebounds into 16 points (Tech had none) and scoring 20 points off turnovers.

“I think in the second half, we competed a lot better,” Wolff said. “The whole feel to the way we went about it was better and I was happy for that. I think we played with a little more confidence in the second half.

“I have to give Khadedra Croker some credit. I hadn’t played her much, but she went in there, wasn’t afraid, caught the ball and finished in the lane. We need to get something from someone in the lane and she gave us a good lift today.”

Croker scored six points in 13 minutes of action. Loyd, the conference’s leading scorer at almost 22 points per game, tallied 16 for Notre Dame, while teammate Kathryn Westbeld led the Irish with 17.

Tech just ended a three-game home stand and now heads out on the road for its next two, starting with a Sunday afternoon game in Atlanta. The Hokies will face Georgia Tech with a 2 p.m. tip.

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