In a somewhat sloppy game, the Virginia Tech women's basketball team hung tough and came away with a 55-44 win over Radford. With the win, the Hokies improve to 9-0 on the season.
"I think that's a win that a lot of people will take a lot of different ways," said head coach Kenny Brooks. "In the basketball circles, you know that's a good win, because I think Radford is going to do a tremendous job for the rest of the year and win a lot of basketball games."
To open the game, freshman guard Dara Mabrey scored five quick points to help the Hokies jump out to a quick lead. However, Virginia Tech then began to struggle offensively. They only scored nine points in the last 8:47 of the first quarter.
"I've never seen one of my teams miss so many layups," said Brooks. "I've never seen the ball dance around the rim so many times and fall off instead of some falling in."
In the second quarter, the shooting woes only got worse. The Hokies went an embarrassing 2-17 from the field in that quarter alone, and they went to the break trailing 23-19.
"I felt like we were getting shots, they were just rattling in and then coming out," said senior guard Rachel Camp. "I feel like the shots were there, it was just a matter of them actually falling."
Taylor Emery agreed that the offensive struggles were more self-inflicted than anything else.
"Honestly, I think we just were missing shots," said Emery. "You know, we practice the shots that we were getting. We were getting open looks, we were getting the shots that we wanted, we just couldn't knock them down tonight."
Luckily for the Hokies, the Highlanders were not shooting the lights out, either. Much of that was due to good defense from Virginia Tech, particularly in the form of Regan Magarity.
While Magarity's four points were far below her season average, she played very well on defense. She had six blocks along with 16 rebounds, 15 of which came on the defensive end.
Radford head coach Mike McGuire said that preventing Regan from getting points in the paint and offensive rebounds was a main focus for his team in preparing for this game.
"For us to only let her have one [offensive rebound], I thought that was a great effort on our part," McGuire said. "I thought Lydia [Rivers] did a really good job with her."
Lydia Rivers also mentioned that she and her teammates keyed in on Magarity before the game. "She was a big focus in our scout, so we just had to zone in on that," Rivers said.
While the Highlanders were able to keep her in check offensively, Magarity still had a large impact on the other end.
In the third quarter, the Hokies came out with a new fire. They still were not making every shot that they hoped, but defense began to lead to offense. Virginia Tech ended up outscoring Radford 19-5 in the second quarter to take a ten point lead.
"We were able to regroup at halftime. There was no yelling, no screaming," said Brooks. "We just told them, 'you played probably as bad as you could play, missing some shots, but you're still only down four.' So, they came back out and regrouped."
The fourth quarter was back and forth, but the Hokies lead was never seriously in danger. Radford did pull within four with 6:33 remaining, but Tech hit a quick bucket to stretch it to six. The margin would not get any closer than that.
In the end, the Hokies pulled out an 11-point win, 55-44. Taylor Emery led all players with 21 points, while Dara Mabrey added 10 and Aisha Sheppard added 13.
Key Stat - Hokies Hold the Highlanders to 5 Points in the 3rd Quarter
After Virginia Tech scored just five points in the second quarter, they came out and held Radford to that same number in the third. That, along with some improved shooting, allowed them to regain the lead.
"We just kind of picked it up defensively, and whenever we pick it up defensively, our offense starts to flow," said Emery. "We really just came out and focused on our defense, and we were able to get some points on the offensive end to help us get ahead."
Emery herself was a big part of that offense. Her two three pointers late in the third and early in the fourth quarter went a long way in solidifying the Hokies' win.
"Throughout the game I was missing a couple shots here and there," Emery said. "Then I would make some, then miss some again, then make some. My coaches and my teammates just kept saying, 'Keep shooting, keep shooting, we need you to shoot.' I came out and I was able to hit those shots because of my teammates and my coaches."
Virginia Tech now sits at 9-0 on the season. The Hokies will have 12 days off before they battle Mount St. Mary's at home on Sunday, December 16.