Photo Credit: Dave Knachel/Virginia Tech Athletics
Virginia Tech shot 50 percent from the field to pick up their fifth win of the season against Davidson on Sunday 88-68 in Cassell Coliseum.
Four players – Dara Mabrey, Aisha Sheppard, Elizabeth Kitley and Trinity Baptiste – scored in double figures for the Hokies in their 20-point victory. The Hokies battled foul trouble all game, having two players foul out, but Tech had other players step up in the victory.
“You need games like this to continue to grow and get the experience,” head coach Kenny Brooks said. “You don’t like going through it, but especially with not having [Alex] Obouh Fegue and getting a couple kids in foul trouble, you have to rely on some other players heavily. In order for us to be a good team going forward, we have to play without fouling.”
Brooks compared Sunday’s game to band-aid work, saying the team was trying to see what would work and keep things simple because many players were playing out of position.
Despite foul trouble and players being in different spots than normal, the Hokies shot better than 50 percent from the floor and were clicking on offense.
“We shared the ball and found good shots,” Brooks said. “Someone told me the other day that off of synergy, we had third highest ranking in offensive efficiently behind Oregon and someone else. We’re doing good things but when I look at it, we’re trying to get better and better, so we focus on the negatives. To be able to go out and be consistent, it’s pretty good.”
Sophomore guard Dara Mabrey led the Hokies in scoring, dropping 18 points. The Belmar, N.J., native made six of her nine attempts from the field, while grabbing six rebounds and dishing out three assists.
Brooks was impressed with her play, especially with her playing more of a point guard role rather than working at her more usual shooting guard due to Taja Cole being in foul trouble. Brooks labeled her position as more of a hybrid role, though, describing it as somewhere between a point guard and a shooting guard.
“We kind of equated it to her being like a slot receiver,” Brooks said. “We didn’t want her to be a wide receiver that lines up on the right the whole time because then opponents can key on her… but I thought she did a really good job of mixing it up; I thought she was confident and I was proud of her effort. I thought she was much better on the defensive end tonight.”
Freshman Elizabeth Kitley had another big game for the Hokies, scoring 17 points and recording nine rebounds. Brooks was very impressed with the Summerfield, N.C., native on Sunday.
Against Liberty two games ago, Brooks said it was the first time Kitley had ever been “gone after,” both on the court and on the scouting report.
“She’s still a work in progress,” Brooks said. “She’s learning how people are playing her differently. She’s like our little baby giraffe, learning how to walk. She did a fantastic job and is only going to get better.”
Brooks also wanted more out of his team in terms of playing to the scouting report, post Liberty. He said the Hokies missed a lot of scout-based assignments.
The feeling was much different on Sunday.
“We did a really good job,” Brooks said. “That was one of the things I was most proud of. We followed the scout more to the script. They’re a prolific three-point shooting team and we did a really good job of running them off the three-point line.”
Sheppard and Baptiste, two juniors on the Hokies’ roster, added 17 points each, while Baptiste finished with five rebounds and five assists. Sheppard contributed two assists, two blocks and two steals.
Graduate transfers Lydia Rivers and Taja Cole stuffed the stat sheet as they have in the previous four games, combining for fifteen points, fifteen rebounds and six assists.
Brooks spoke previously about the team having to lean on the experience of Cole and Rivers. With both of them in foul trouble on Sunday, the Hokies had to find other contributors which is exactly what they did as a team.
It was a group effort on both ends of the court for the Hokies, as they held the Wildcats to 31.8% shooting on 66 attempted shots.
Sarah Donovan had a big game for Davidson, recording a double-double with 25 points and 11 rebounds, but her effort wasn’t enough to hold off the Hokies.
Tech now travels to Florida on Friday to face Belmont in the Daytona Beach Invitational. The Hokies will then match up with Taja Cole’s former school, Georgia, in their second game in the event.
It’s two tough tests in two days for the Hokies, but Kenny Brooks says they’re ready.
“I think we’re prepared,” Brooks said. “I think we’re a talented group that gets along. They share the ball; they share their success and their failures. These will be two tremendous tests for us.”