Photo Credit: Liam Sment
Seventh-seeded Virginia Tech will participate in its first NCAA Women's Tournament in fifteen years when they play tenth-seeded Marquette on Sunday afternoon. The game will be played at Strahan Coliseum in San Antonio, Texas.
Virginia Tech comes into the tournament following a loss to N.C. State in the quarterfinals of the ACC tournament.
After a 6-0 start to the year, the Hokies began to struggle as they entered the ACC portion of their schedule, losing seven of their next eight games.
Kenny Brooks and Co. were able to reignite the flame with an upset over then No. 2 N.C. State, the first of a six-game winning streak. Virginia Tech dropped its final game of the regular season to North Carolina.
The Hokies are led by the duo of Aisha Sheppard and Elizabeth Kitley, who average a combined 37 points per game.
Key to the game for Virginia Tech: Get hot from behind the arc
The Hokies are 8-2 this season when they make at least ten threes. To get to that number, Virginia Tech will need to set up open looks by driving inside and then kicking it out to their lethal perimeter shooters like Georgia Amoore, Cayla King, and Sheppard.
On the other side, Marquette finished the season with a 19-6 overall record while posting a 14-4 record in the Big East. The Golden Eagles fell to the Connecticut Huskies in the Big East Championship round two weeks ago, 73-39.
Marquette is led by senior guard Selena Lott, who averaged 14.6 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. A big performance from Lott will be critical for the Golden Eagles as they attempt to upset the Hokies.
Key to the game for Marquette: Force Turnovers early and often
Turnovers and offensive miscues plagued Virginia Tech during its losing skid in the middle of the year. As the Hokies started to protect the ball more, they started winning more games and found more success on offensive. If Marquette can find a way to force Virginia Tech to turn the ball over, it could be a long day for the Hokies.
The Hokies recent streak of success has coincided with the development of Amoore at point guard and the breakout of perimeter shooters in King to pair with Sheppard. The increased threat of shooters on the outside has contributed a lot to Elizabeth Kitley’s production, as she faced fewer double teams as a result.
A cohesive and in-synch Virginia Tech team should be able beat Marquette with ease. I believe that the Hokies will continue to show their development as a team and in their roles, which will lead to Kenny Brooks’ first NCAA Tournament win at Virginia Tech.