BLACKSBURG, Va. – Behind strong scoring runs in the second half, the Virginia Tech women’s basketball team earned their first league victory of the season, defeating visiting North Carolina 76-70 Sunday afternoon at Carilion Clinic Court at Cassel Coliseum. The Hokies move to 11-3 on the season and 1-2 in conference play while the Heels fell to 11-3 and 2-1.
Trinity Baptiste came off the bench and was the catalyst in the first half scoring back-to-back buckets in the first quarter to tie the game and then adding 10 more points in the second quarter alone. The junior forward finished the game with 16 points and nine rebounds and helped the Hokies’ front court to contain Carolina’s Janelle Bailey who took just six shots and scored seven points in the game. The Hokies held a four-point lead at the break, thanks in part to shooting 50% from the floor.
In the third, the team picked up where it left off, making three triples from Aisha Sheppard and Dara Mabrey in the opening minutes to force a UNC timeout. Tech kept the momentum, owning 15-2 run that saw the lead balloon to as much as 18.
But Carolina would not go away and would battle back to within three points in the fourth quarter behind a 26-point performance from guard Shayla Bennett and 15 from Taylor Koenen.
The Hokies used a quick 8-0 spurt to find some breathing room and would go on to close out the game at the free throw line where they made 14 of 19 in the game. Taja Cole narrowly missed out on a double-double, with nine points and nine assists, while forward Lydia Rivers was efficient again going 5 for 8 from the floor and registering 11 points and seven rebounds.
INSIDE THE BOX SCORE
- The Hokies caused 11 turnovers and only committed 10 in the game.
- Tech scored 16 points off of the Heels' turnovers, while allowing just seven.
- Virginia Tech outscored the Tar Heels in the paint 36-30.
- The Hokies and Heels each took 19 free throws in the game. In Tech's first two ACC games, they had been outshot at the line 28 to 11.
- The Tar Heels had zero points off the bench, while Tech had 19, 16 of which came from Baptiste.
- Aisha Sheppard scored in double figures for the 12th time in 13 games this season. She continues to lead the team at 17.3 points per game. She made four 3′s versus the Tar Heels one game after hitting a program best eight at NC State. Her 12 in two games is the most in program history.
- Trinity Baptiste scored 16 points, her eighth double digit game of the season and the first since scoring 14 vs. Wichita State at the Coqui Classic in San Juan.
- Tech used the same starting lineup for the seventh straight game – Cole, Mabrey, Sheppard, Rivers and Kitley.
NEXT TIME ON THE HARDWOOD
- Tech will return to Carilion Clinic Court at Cassell Coliseum on Thursday, January 9 to take on Pitt on ACC Network Extra. Tipoff for that contest is set for 7 p.m.
- The Hokies are 9-5 all-time against the Panthers and 4-3 since both teams joined the ACC.
- Last season the Hokies earned a 74-58 victory over Pitt on the road. Taylor Emery led all scorers with 24 points in the game and Dara Mabrey had 22 on 7 of 9 shooting. She would go on to win ACC Freshman of the Week in part because of that performance