After not playing for almost two weeks, the Virginia Tech Hokies were what head coach Kenny Brooks described as, "rusty," in the first half against the Navy Midshipmen. Playing in Cassell Coliseum on Friday night in the first round of the WNIT, the Hokies trailed 37-24 at halftime, their largest deficit of the game, but fought back and defeated the Midshipmen, courtesy of a shot with one second left by Taylor Emery that put the Hokies up a point.
Down 51-54 with 11 seconds to go in the game, Kenny Brooks took a timeout and was figuring out who to choose to take the shot to tie the game. "My assistants asked me who I wanted to take the last shot," said Brooks, and he chose Emery to take it. Emery came off of a screen at the top of the key, caught the inbound pass from Camp, turned, fired, and scored it with nine seconds to go. Emery said, "When I put up the shot, everyone said a prayer."
Tech then subbed in Michelle Berry for defensive purposes and Berry fouled Hannah Fenske, sending her to the free throw line with five seconds left. Fenske missed the first free throw but made the second, giving Navy a 1-point lead with five seconds to go. Aisha Sheppard came back into the game.
With no timeouts, it was now or never. Camp received the inbounds pass, dribbled up the left side of the court, and passed the ball to Emery at the free throw line. She caught it with her momentum carrying her to her right and threw up the shot off-balanced. Swish.
With 1.1 seconds left, Navy missed a half-court shot at the buzzer and Cassell went ballistic with Enter Sandman playing in the background. The Hokies had come back from 13 points down and are advancing to the second round.
Coach Brooks said, "This time of the year is about surviving and advancing. I had concerns before the game, since we hadn't played in two weeks whether we would be rested or rusted."
Brooks started off the press conference by crediting Navy for playing well, including their strong start when they hit three straight three-pointers to open up the game.
The reason that the Hokies have been able to come back late in games when being down is because they are resilient, said Brooks. The team never gives up. Unfortunately, the team has gotten off to some slow starts this season, but showing resilience has been one of the greatest attributes with this team.
While Emery led the Hokies with 16 points, both Regan Magarity and Alexis Jean recorded double-doubles. Magarity had 14 points and 11 rebounds while Jean scored 18 points and grabbed 14 boards. Emery, Magarity, and Camp, scored a combined 36 of Tech's 56 points and shot 19-41. Only Sheppard, Camp, and Brooks are the other players that attempted a shot.
About being first on the glass and winning almost every rebound, Alexis Jean said, "We wanted to win everything because we knew we didn't want to go home. We didn't want it to be our last game." The Hokies outrebounded the Midshipmen 44-32. Unfortunately, Tech had 20 turnovers, 10 more than Navy did. Brooks said this was simply rust after not playing in two weeks.
Sheppard added two threes and Camp scored a basket as those three led the way. The Hokies might've looked rusty in the first half, but they were a completely different team in the second half, only allowing 18 total points.
Emery and Jean searched for words to describe the two halves after the game. They said: first half: bad, catastrophe, second half: excitement, hunger. The Hokies were down almost the entire game but they never lost their will to win and they found a way to come back, thanks to big games from Emery, Jean, and Magarity. With this victory, Virginia Tech will advance to the second round of the WNIT and host George Mason in Cassell Coliseum on Sunday at 2pm.
Photo Credit: Dave Knachel/Virginia Tech Athletics
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