Photo Credit: Dave Knachel/Virginia Tech Athletics
The Hokies got back on track with a 72-63 victory in Chapel Hill on Sunday, improving their record 17-6 on the season including 7-5 in ACC play.
The victory also solidified history for the Hokies, winning the seventh conference game of the season; the most in a single season since joining the ACC back in 2004.
Virginia Tech were led by solid performances of Elizabeth Kitley and Dara Mabrey, who led the Hokies in points in the afternoon.
Kitley was extremely shooting 7-10 from the field against the Tar Heels tallying 17 points. She also helped the Hokies win the points in the paint battle, 28-26.
Mabrey had an off shooting day going 2-9 from the field , but made up for it by getting to the free-throw line a lot and being efficient once there shooting 12-12 to lead the Hokies in scoring with 18 points.
Aisha Shepard noticed a career milestone on Sunday by knocking down her 200th three-pointer with Virginia Tech as she finished with 15 points on the afternoon.
Throughout this game, both teams seemed to be pretty even with each other on the scoreboard. Virginia Tech was able to edge North Carolina slightly in the first two quarters to take a three-point lead into halftime.
In the second half, the Tar Heels and Hokies kept battling back and forth and saw another evenly-matched quarter to keep Tech's lead at 3 heading into the fourth quarter.
Then the Hokies found their stride and pulled away during the fourth quarter to seal the victory. In the fourth, the Hokies were able to build their lead up all the way to 11 and put a knot on their way to outscoring North Carolina 22-16 in the fourth. More importantly, the Hokies had a couple possessions were of breathing room going into the closing minutes with UNC unable to chip away at it beyond that.
Virginia Tech delivered a strong defensive effort in this victory, by holding the Tar Heels to 1-11 shooting from behind the arc and not allowing Shayla Bennett to get in a groove shooting only 5-20 from the field.
The win on Sunday put the Hokies tied for 4th in the ACC standings with the Duke Blue Devils at a 7-5 record. More importantly, the win puts the Hokies in very good position to make a run at earning a double bye in the ACC Tournament.
What would a double bye mean for Virginia Tech? The biggest thing would be avoiding one of the ACC's top 3 teams till the semifinals at the earliest. Additionally, the Hokies would not be at a rest disadvantage at any point in the ACC Tournament, and woul be guaranteed an advantage in having rest in facing a team that played at minimum, the previous day should they earn a double bye.
For Virginia Tech’s postseason hopes, this win will boost the resumé and definitely be a notable win in the eyes of the committee. While the Hokies are comfortably in the NCAA Tournament, this can help Tech continue to rise and push for a higher seed in the 6-7 range.
Coming into the weekend, ESPN’s Charlie Creme listed the Hokies as the #8 seed in the Dallas region along with Baylor as the #1 seed. Coming out of this weekend, College Sports Madness and Real Time RPI both have the Hokies as a 7 seed in their women's basketball bracketologies.
The Hokies will return to Cassell Coliseum on February 13th to host the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets as they look to maintain their strong position in pursuit of a double bye at the ACC Tournament.