On Wednesday night, the Virginia Tech Hokies defeated the West Virginia Mountaineers in Morgantown in the semifinals of the Women's National Invitational Tournament (WNIT). Trailing 60-61 with 30 seconds to go, head coach Kenny Brooks called a timeout to set up a play.
The last time Tech trailed with less than a minute left to go in a game, the Hokies were down 54-51 with 11 seconds left against Navy in Cassell Coliseum. That was the first game of the WNIT. Now, with 30 seconds to go at West Virginia, they were playing for a spot in the WNIT Final.
Against Navy, Kenny Brooks drew up a play for Taylor Emery to catch the ball coming off a screen and she hit a tough three to tie the game. Tech fouled so Navy went up 55-54, but Rachel Camp found Emery at the foul line who hit a fade-away jumper to put the Hokies ahead with less than 2 seconds to go.
This time, Emery caught a pass from Rachel Camp, dribbled right to the top of the key, and nailed a three pointer with 22 seconds left to give the Hokies the 63-61 lead. Tech held West Virginia from scoring again and Aisha Sheppard hit a free throw to seal the win, 64-61.
Led by Emery's 23 points, Virginia Tech shot 41% from the floor and 43% from behind the arc, including shooting 4/9 from three in the second half. Regan Magarity played all 40 minutes and had her 15th double-double of the season with 11 points and 11 rebounds, while Rachel Camp added 14 points, six rebounds, and four assists in her 39 minutes.
Alexis Jean only had 6 points and four rebounds, so not her greatest performance of the season but she provided balance while she was up against the West Virginia forwards. Sheppard also added 8 points. The Hokies outrebounded the Mountaineers 41-38 but lost the turnover battle with 13 turnovers to West Virginia's 6.
Virginia Tech forced WVU to shoot just 21% from three and 37% from the floor, one of the biggest reasons why the Hokies were able to win. Earlier this season, the Hokies matched up against the Mountaineers in the Paradise Jam in Melbourne, Florida, while WVU was ranked 11th in the nation. VT lost 61-79, partly because they were held to 25% shooting from three and also because they were outrebounded.
On Wednesday, Tech bounced back and got their revenge on the Mountaineers. Virginia Tech now sits with a 23-13 record and will travel to Bloomington, Indiana, to face the Hoosiers on Saturday at 3pm. The game will be broadcasted on the CBS Sports Network.
I've mentioned this once or twice in recaps of the other WNIT games, but after Taylor Emery broke the single-season scoring record against George Mason in the second round of the tournament, Emery was very humble, saying she was very grateful for her coaches, her teammates, and everything anyone else has done for her.
She didn't shy away from her main goal, however; "I came here to win a championship." Emery will lead the Hokies into battle on Saturday with a chance to achieve her goal of winning a championship.
Photo Credit: Dave Knachel/Virginia Tech Athletics
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