2018 WNIT Final: Virginia Tech vs. Indiana Preview

2018 WNIT Final: Virginia Tech vs. Indiana Preview

David Cunningham | @therealdcunna

Mar 30, 2018

After defeating the West Virginia Mountaineers 64-61 on Wednesday night in Morgantown in the Final Four of the WNIT Tournament, the Virginia Tech Hokies are in the WNIT Championship against the Indiana Hoosiers tomorrow at 3pm in Bloomington, Indiana on CBS Sports Network. The Hoosiers, who finished seventh in the Big Ten this season, sit at 22-14 overall and are 15-5 at home in the legendary Assembly Hall. Finishing 9-7 in the Big Ten play, the Hoosiers were above .500 in conference play, unlike the Hokies who finished 6-10 in the ACC. Virginia Tech is 6-6 on the road this season, including a win at Big Ten opponent Illinois early in the season. The Hokies have road wins at North Carolina, Syracuse, West Virginia, Illinois, Chattanooga, and Monmouth. 3 of the 6 road losses have come at the hands of ranked teams: No. 3 Louisville, No. 13 Florida State, and No. 5 Notre Dame. Other losses were at Virginia, at Wake Forest, and at Miami. Indiana has a similar home record to the Hokies (15-5 vs 15-4) and they've won their last 10 home games. There are a few common opponents between Tech and Indiana: Chattanooga, Illinois, Virginia, Auburn, and Louisville. The Hoosiers posted a 1-4 record against these teams with their one win coming against the Fighting Illini. The Hokies, on the other hand, hold a 3-4 record against those teams, with all four losses coming at the hands of Louisville and in-state rival Virginia. Led by Taylor Emery, who is averaging 18.4 points per game this season, the Hokies have improved in their second season under head coach Kenny Brooks. Emery spoke in the postgame press conference after the George Mason game back on March 18th and was asked what she thought about breaking the record for most points scored in a single season. She thanked her teammates and coaches and everyone that helped her get to the level is at, said how grateful she was to be able to achieve this wonderful stat, but stated that the journey wasn’t done until she got what she came here for: a championship. Emery, the 5-10 junior guard from Tampa, transferred from Gulf Coast State to the Virginia Tech Hokies after being named the JUCO college player of the year by the NCAA in 2016-2017. She has had a huge impact on this team, including hitting clutch shots when it mattered most like her game-winning shots against Navy and West Virginia. If not for those shots, the Hokies would be sitting at home watching the Final Four instead of playing for VT's first WNIT Championship. Another key player for the Hokies this season has been Regan Magarity. The forward from Norrköping, Sweden has played 1231 minutes, the most on the team, grabbed 342 rebounds (also most on the team), and is averaging 13.4 points per game, second on the team behind Emery. Alexis Jean, Rachel Camp, and Aisha Sheppard have all had significant impacts for the team this season, especially after Chanette Hicks left the team. All three have stepped into larger roles including Camp who took on a role she wasn’t used to: being the starting point guard. Since the North Carolina game on February 8th when she first started at the point, she has gradually found her rhythm and confidence. The team trusts her, and they know the ball is in good hands when she has it. Sheppard and Jean have scored when needed and have been solid players to rely on over the course of the season. On the other side of the court, the Hoosiers are led by Tyra Buss, the senior 5’8” guard from Mt. Carmel, Illinois. Buss is averaging 20.8 points per game for Indiana and averages 40 minutes a game so expect to see her on the court for the entire game in Bloomington. Amanda Cahill, the 6’2” senior forward from Denton, Texas, plays about 38 minutes a game and averages 15.3 points. You could compare that duo to the Emery-Magarity duo from Tech. The two teams are similar in almost every statistic, including field goal percentage. Tech shoots 41.7% from the floor and 33% from three while Indiana is more efficient shooting 44.8% from the field and 37% from three. The Hokies have an advantage on the glass averaging 5 more rebounds per game than Indiana (39.8 to 34.8). They both average around 15 turnovers a game and force a similar number of turnovers. Even if the Hokies do not come out on top, which I think they will, Kenny Brooks and the Hokies have had a very good season in which VT has been notably improved from last season. No matter what, Virginia Tech is assured of back-to-back 20-win seasons in his first two years, back-to-back quarterfinal appearances in the WNIT, and the chance to play for a WNIT Championship. This team has a phenomenal season and one more game lies ahead. Hokies. Hoosiers. Saturday. 3pm. Winner take all for a WNIT Championship.

Photo Credit: Dave Knachel/Virginia Tech Athletics

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