Despite a huge game from junior guard Taylor Emery, Virginia Tech fell short against #15 Duke tonight 86-75.
Emery led the Hokies with a career-high 30 points, scoring 17 in the first half. Emery shot 12-19 from the field, including a team best 6-8 from behind the three-point arc. Alexis Jean was the second Hokie in double figures with 17 points, shooting 6-14 from the floor.
After a good first half, Virginia Tech was tied at 37 with the 15th ranked Blue Devils after holding Duke to just 33% shooting in the second quarter.
Overall, four Duke players scored in double figures led by Haley Gorecki, who had 28 points and was 7-10 from three-point range. Gorecki set the record for most three-point field goals made in Cassell Coliseum. Out-rebounding Duke throughout the game, the Hokies played stellar defense in the first half and led late in the second quarter until a run with a minute left and a three at the buzzer tied up the game for Duke.
Starting in the second half, the lead changed quite a few times before Duke stole the lead for the rest of the game. Besides Emery and Jean, the other three starters for the Hokies, Kendyl Brooks, Regan Magarity, and Rachel Camp, scored a combined 12 points. Brooks was 2-7 from three-point range while Magarity was 1-9 and 4-5 from the charity stripe. Magarity also added 13 rebounds which was a big reason why Tech won the rebound battle 37-31. Camp did not score a basket but both she and Brooks added three assists.
Coming off the bench, Aisha Sheppard was the third and final player in double-figures against the Blue Devils, scoring 10 points on 4-10 shooting. Sheppard also had 3 assists and she brought a spark once she stepped on the floor for Tech. Chanette Hicks, who has not started the last three games for Virginia Tech, also gave a huge spark off the bench with two steals. Hicks only scored 4 points during the game and she fouled out early in the fourth quarter. Michelle Berry also played quality minutes, contributing four rebounds and two points.
The Hokies kept the Blue Devils close throughout the entire game but could just not pull out the win in the end. With a first half that kept Duke in check, the Hokies struggled during the third quarter in which the Blue Devils pulled away from VT.
Magarity has had a huge impact on the team all season but didn’t make a field goal until the fourth quarter in tonight’s game. With the main scoring coming from Emery and Jean, Duke put their focus on those two players on the second half and shut down the Tech offense.
Virginia Tech travels to play Virginia in John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville on Sunday at 12:30. After the Commonwealth Clash, the Hokies have a two-game home stand against Georgia Tech and Miami before traveling to play at Syracuse and North Carolina. The Hokies stand with a 13-6 record and are 2-4 in conference play. A conference win or two throughout the next three games would really help Tech’s shrinking NCAA Tournament hopes.