Photo Credit: Liam Sment
With six minutes left to play, Cayla King drained a three to give Virginia Tech a six-point lead over Clemson.
The Tigers fired back eight seconds later with a triple of their own to cut the Hokies’ lead back down to three.
A month ago, those kinds of quick punches drained energy and confidence from Virginia Tech, leading to the 1-7 slump the team went through in January.
A much different team than the one that suffered through that cold streak, the Hokies answered the call with another three from King to bring the Virginia Tech lead back to six.
The sequence not only demonstrated the resiliency the Hokies have developed in their six game winning streak, but also the development of younger starters like King, throughout the course of the season.
“I think everybody is getting so much more comfortable in their role, and we’re honestly flourishing because of that,” Aisha Sheppard said after the win. “Because our roles are so defined and we know what each of us bring to the table, it’s been easier for everybody else to get comfortable and settle in these past few games.”
Virginia Tech was able to roll with the punches on Thursday night, leading to a 70-64 victory over Clemson. The win improves the Hokies’ record to 13-7 and their ACC record to 8-7.
Virginia Tech got out to a hot start in the game, shooting over 56% from the field in the first quarter. The Hokies’ fast start was aided by an 11-2 run to begin the game, courtesy of three triples from Sheppard and Georgia Amoore.
Clemson returned the favor by going on a 9-2 run in the middle of the second quarter, cutting Virginia Tech’s lead to as little as three points. The Hokies responded with a 7-0 run to end the half, giving Virginia Tech a 35-25 lead at the break.
The Hokies carried that momentum into the second half, jumping out to an 11-4 to start the third quarter. The run gave Virginia Tech a 17-point advantage, its largest lead of the game.
Clemson took over after that point, riding an 18-2 run from the end of the third quarter to the beginning of the fourth. The run cut the Hokies lead to a single point.
Virginia Tech closed out the game by dominating in the paint, out-rebounding Clemson 14-7 in the final ten minutes.
Sheppard (27) and Elizabeth Kitley (24) combined for 51 points in the win. Kitley picked up her thirteenth double-double of the season with 13 rebounds.
The emergence of King and Amoore on the perimeter has led to teams calling fewer double-teams on Kitley, giving her more favorable match-ups in the post that she relishes having.
“I’ll go one-on-one all day if they let me. I love doing that,” Kitley said.
The Hokies enter Sunday against North Carolina (12-9, 7-9) vying for a chance at fourth place in the ACC.