After a bit of a sloppy start, the Virginia Tech women's basketball team buckled down in the fourth quarter to defeat Rutgers 67-51 in the Women's ACC-Big 10 Challenge. After a slow first half, Taylor Emery helped lead the Hokies to a dominant second half and the big victory to stay undefeated.
"We flowed better in the second half," said Emery. "In the first half, around the second quarter, we kind of let them get to us with their win. I think in the second half we came out and executed better."
The Hokies got off to a fast start, as Kendyl Brooks knocked down back to back threes to give Virginia Tech an early 6-2 lead. However, Tech struggled to stop Rutgers from getting down low. Of the 16 points that the Scarlet Knights scored in the first quarter, 10 of them game from the paint.
This trend continued into the second half, as the Scarlet Knights added 10 more points in the paint and outscored the Hokies 17-12 in the second quarter. Rutgers also got 18 points from their bench in the first half, while the Hokies had just 6.
In the second half, the Hokies came out with a new sense of urgency. They held Rutgers to just 10 points in the third quarter, and they started denying the easy buckets in the paint that were the Knights' bread and butter in the first half.
"We really locked down and focused," said Emery. "We just played harder than we did in the first half. We came out and we were able to shut down different things that they had going."
While the third quarter was an improvement for the Hokies, the fourth quarter is when they really put the game away. Virginia Tech outscored Rutgers 20-8 in the final frame as they pulled out a 16 point victory.
Rutgers had one of the best defenses in the country coming into the game, allowing just over 50 points a game. Led by Hall of Fame coach C. Vivian Stringer, the Scarlet Knights did a good job disrupting the Hokies' flow in the first half.
Eventually, though, Kenny Brooks' team made the necessary adjustments to get the offense going. While Stringer said this was somewhat due to fatigue, she was also very complimentary of Tech's offense.
"A lot of this was exposed because of the outstanding offense that [Coach Brooks] is running," said Stringer. "When you have people that could shoot the ball as well as they could, it was forcing us to come out beyond the three point range...Then, they were getting opportunities to get to the hole."
Even though Rutgers was just 4-3 coming into the game, Kenny Brooks knew that they would be a tough test. He remarked that while he may look back fondly on getting a win against one of the best women's coaches in the country, he was just happy for the team for right now.
Key Stat - All 9 Players for Virginia Tech were Positive in +/-
Virginia Tech needed a full team game in order to beat Rutgers tonight. Coach Brooks said he told the players this before the game, which is why he was so thrilled to have production from everyone on the floor. The team production from Virginia Tech did not go unnoticed on the Rutgers sideline, either.
"Every person on their team had a plus, so that will tell you the story right there," said Stringer.
Hokies' guard Kendyl Brooks also discussed how important it was for Virginia Tech to put forth a good team effort tonight. She said that after a first half with 9 turnovers, it took relying on each other to turn things around.
"I think we just calmed down, slowed down, and looked for our sisters instead of just trying to go 100 miles per hour," said Brooks. "We ran our sets, and we took our time and looked for our teammates."
The Hokies had just two players in double figures. Brooks scored 11 to get in double figures for the first time this season, and Emery led all scorers with 22. Magarity and Mabrey added 9 points each, but it was the fact that the Hokies had a whopping 8 players score that really sealed the game.
Virginia Tech moves to 8-0 on the season after this win. The Hokies will now get some much-needed time off after playing 3 games in 5 days. They will have five days without a game before they take on Radford next Tuesday in Cassell.
Photo Credit: Dave Knachel/Virginia Tech Athletics
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