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Cole’s performance not enough to lift Tech past No. 7 Wolfpack

Taja Cole scored 19 points and Dara Mabrey had 15 in a 71-59 defeat

Virginia Tech basketball
Virginia Tech basketball (WSLS)


BLACKSBURG, Va. – Despite 19 points from point guard Taja Cole, the Virginia Tech women’s basketball team struggled shooting from the floor, and the Hokies fell 71-59 to No. 7 NC State in an ACC game Thursday night at Carilion Clinic Court. With the loss, the Hokies dropped to 16-6 overall on the season, 6-5 in the ACC.

The Wolfpack won their eighth straight game and moved to 22-1, 11-1 in the ACC. Elissa Cunane scored 17 points and grabbed 16 rebounds to lead Wolfpack, who snapped the Hokies’ 16-game home winning streak. Cunane registered her Atlantic Coast Conference-leading 12th double-double, and both Aislinn Konig and Jakia Brown-Turner added 11 points each for NC State. Virginia Tech trailed the entire second half, falling behind by as many as 14, but the Hokies cut the lead to 40-39 on two free throws by Aisha Sheppard with 54.5 seconds remaining in the third period.

NC State, though, answered with an 8-0 run – a run capped by three-point plays from Kai Crutchfield and Jada Boyd that pushed the Wolfpack lead to 48-39 with 9:44 left. Tech got no closer than six the rest of the game. NC State, which leads the ACC in field-goal percentage defense, held the Hokies to a season-low 30.3% (20 of 66).

The Wolfpack also finished 23 for 28 from the free throw line, including 17 for 22 in the final period. Cole made 6 of 17 from the floor and 6 of 7 from the free-throw line. Dara Mabrey added 15 points for the Hokies.

QUOTES TO NOTE

Virginia Tech head coach Kenny Brooks (On Tech’s performance)"We give credit where credit is due. I thought they outplayed us. They were the better basketball team tonight. They did a good job of taking us out of some of the things we’re accustomed to doing, and we didn’t answer the bell. We allowed ourselves to be played a certain way, and we’ve got to learn to play through it and be more of the aggressor."

INSIDE THE BOX SCORE

  • The Hokies only turned the ball over eight times in the game, the fewest since committing seven against Belmont in the Daytona Beach Invitational in November. NC State had 10 turnovers.
  • The Wolfpack held an advantage in the paint 32-20.
  • Tech knocked down 14 of their 19 free throws (74%) and the Wolfpack also took advantage of their opportunities going 23-28 (82%).
  • Both squads finished with 41 rebounds in the game.

GAME NOTES

  • Cole's 19 points were her second-most this season (21 vs. Pittsburgh).
  • Mabrey's 15 points were her most in a game since the Hokies' win over Virginia on Jan. 19 – a span of five games.
  • The Hokies' five 3-pointers were their fewest in an ACC game this season and the third-fewest in a game overall.
  • The Hokies' eight turnovers were their fewest in an ACC game this season and the second-fewest in a game overall.
  • Aisha Sheppard scored in double figures for the 20th time in 22 games this season with her 10 against NC State. She continues to lead the team at 15.8 points per game. Sheppard has hit a 3-pointer in 29 consecutive games, dating back to January 29, 2019, a school record.
  • Tech used the same starting lineup for the 14th straight game – Cole, Mabrey, Sheppard, Rivers and Kitley.
  • Taja Cole scored in double figures for the ninth time this season.
  • The loss snapped the Hokies' 16-game home winning streak which was the third-longest in the nation. Tech went 361 days between home losses.

NEXT TIME ON THE HARDWOOD

•Tech travels to Chapel Hill, North Carolina to take on the UNC Tar Heels on Sunday, February 9 for a 2 p.m. tip on Regional Sports Networks.

•UNC leads the all-time series 19-7, but the Hokies have won three of four contests including the first meeting this season, a 76-70 triumph at Cassell Coliseum. Four Hokies were in double figures, led by 16 each from Aisha Sheppard and Trinity Baptiste.

. NEXT TIME ON CARILION CLINIC COURT

•The Hokies are back at Cassell Coliseum on Thursday February 13 to play host to the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. Tipoff on ACC Network Extra is set for 7 p.m.

•Georgia Tech leads the all-time series winning 11 of the first 17 meetings.