Photo Credit: Dave Knachel/Virginia Tech Athletics
The Virginia Tech Hokies start February off right as they return to their winning ways with a 69-45 over the Miami Hurricanes on Sunday.
The Hokies came into this game looking to bounce back after a crushing defeat at the Carrier Dome to the Syracuse Orange, 67-65. At one point, Virginia Tech had a 16-point lead in the third quarter but let it slip away from them by allowing the Orange to outscore them 22-9 in the fourth quarter.
There would be no comeback for Tech's opponent this time.
Elizabeth Kitley got things going early for the Hokies, scoring the first six points of the game to give Tech an early lead. Trinity Baptiste had four points herself coming off the bench helping give the Hokies a 14-8 lead after the first quarter.
The Hurricanes responded well to start the second quarter. After going nearly seven minutes without tallying any points, they jumped out to an 8-0 run and gave themselves a 16-14 lead, their first lead since the early moments of the game.
“We got into the first half of that game and my assistant coaches were telling me who was in foul trouble and I was telling her I didn’t have anyone to help fill them in,” said head coach Kenny Brooks. “But we were able to weather the storm.”
The Hokies came out with the perfect response and immediately went on a 10-0 run themselves thanks to Dara Mabrey’s two three-pointers near the end of the half. This led Virginia Tech to claiming a 24-16 halftime lead that they would not relinquish again.
Coming out of the locker room, the Hokies did not skip a beat. They continued to separate themselves from the Hurricanes while Miami suffered another scoring drought which lasted nearly seven minutes.
Kenny Brooks praised his grad transfer Taja Cole for helping control the tempo of the game and being a difference to help the Hokies pull away from Miami.
“We kind of go how Taja (Cole) goes,” said Coach Books. “When Taja was out we looked stagnant, we didn’t look very good so we put back in immediately and we got things going again.
Cole had a rough day shooting for the Hokies going 1-7 from the field, but she got it done from the free-throw line going 6-6 while delivering nine of the Hokies’ 13 assists.
Aisha Sheppard started to find her stride in the third quarter, where she collected nine of her 14 points including a buzzer beating three pointer to close out the quarter.
The Hokies ran all over the Hurricanes in the third quarter as they outscored Miami 23-6, shot 61.5% from the field, and went 3-4 from behind the arc; giving them a 47-22 after three frames.
Heading into the fourth quarter, although the Hokies had complete control of the score, they had to cap off their incredible second half performance.
Trinity Baptiste closed out her night with an impressive ten points in the fourth quarter, bringing her total to 17 on the night which led all Hokies in scoring.
Both teams finished off the game well offensively, with Miami scoring 23 points and Virginia Tech scoring 22 points in the fourth quarter, but there was no real chance for the Hurricanes to get back in this game.
Overall, Virginia Tech used their speed and defense to take advantage of the Hurricanes. This included a 17-3 advantage in fast break points and 23-9 advantage in points off turnovers.
Additionally, the Hokies broke away from the Hurricanes in the second half thanks to their three-point shooting; shooting 6-11 from behind the arc while the Hurricanes struggled by only shooting 2-11.
Defensively, the Hokies were dominant as the Hurricanes were held to 23% shooting on the night (14-61) and didn’t make more than three shots in any of the first three quarters. The starters struggled throughout this game as Miami’s bench outperformed their starters 26-19, in part because of Sydnee Roby shooting 4-4 from the field and recording 11 points.
With this victory, the Virginia Tech Hokies improve to 16-5 record on the season, with a 6-4 record in ACC play. Up next for the Hokies is a home matchup against the #7 North Carolina State Wolfpack on February 6th at 7 p.m.