BLACKSBURG, Va. – The Virginia Tech women’s basketball team erased an eight-point Yellow Jacket lead in the second half and went on to claim a 64-61 victory in overtime Thursday night on Carilion Clinic Court at Cassell Coliseum. With the victory, the Hokies improve to 18-6 on the season and 8-5 in the ACC, tied for fourth in the league standings.
“Very good win for us,” head coach Kenny Brooks stated in his postgame press conference. “I’m very excited for the kids. The big picture is that we are tied for fourth. I think we’re one game behind Florida State. It’s not about the NCAA Tournament. It’s not about anything other than controlling our own destiny. We want to get the fourth spot. We’re in position to do that if we just win. We don’t need help from anyone else. Our thought process is we just take care of business one game at a time to try to get that fourth spot. Then everything else will take care of itself.”
Georgia Tech fell to 16-9 (7-7). After a slow opening quarter in terms of scoring, the Jackets took control of the game with a 10-0 run in the second behind consecutive buckets from Francesca Pan, Kierra Fletcher and Lorela Cubaj.
The Hokies traded baskets until the halftime buzzer when Cayla King hit a shot from well beyond the arc that fell in to cut the Jackets’ advantage to six points. Coming out of the break, Virginia Tech went on an 11-2 run fueled by the long-range shooting of guards Aisha Sheppard and Dara Mabrey.
Sheppard, the Hokies’ leading scorer was held scoreless throughout the first half, but would respond with five triple and 17 points in the second to lead the team. Georgia Tech held a five-point advantage after Lotta-Maj Lahtinen scored a layup with 1:31 on the clock, but that was all that the Jackets could muster as Elizabeth Kitley knocked down two big free throws and then the Hokies got the ball one more time to draw up a play.
Out of the timeout, Sheppard was found on the wing by Kitley and the junior from Alexandria, Virginia drained it to tie the ballgame at 55, the score after regulation. In the extra frame, Dara Mabrey scored the opening bucket, followed by five consecutive points from Sheppard and free throws would salt away the program’s eighth ACC win. Forward Lydia Rivers nearly tallied a double-double with eight points and a team-best 13 rebounds and point guard Taja Cole came close to a triple-double again, finishing with eight points, eight rebounds and eight assists in the game. The Yellow Jackets were led by 19 points from Pan and guard Fletcher registered a double-double with 17 points and 13 rebounds.
INSIDE THE BOX SCORE
- Virginia Tech won the battle in the paint 30-22.
- The Hokies had 14 second chance points, the product of 10 offensive rebounds.
- The Hokies forced 20 turnovers and turned those into 21 points on the other end of the floor.
- The Yellow Jackets were 3 of 10 from beyond the arc while the Hokies were 9 for 20.
- Aisha Sheppard scored in double figures for the 22nd time in 24 games this season with her 17 against Georgia Tech. She continues to lead the team at 15.8 points per game. Sheppard has hit a 3-pointer in 31 consecutive games, dating back to January 29, 2019, a school record. After climbing to second place all-time at Virginia Tech in 3′s last week, she added five more to her tally which now stands at 206.
- Tech used the same starting lineup for the 16th straight game – Cole, Mabrey, Sheppard, Rivers and Kitley.
NEXT TIME ON THE HARDWOOD•Tech will head to Winston-Salem, North Carolina to take on the Wake Forest Demon Deacons at 2 p.m. on ACC Network Extra.
•The Hokies lead the all-time series 15-13 and have won five of the last six.
•The two clubs met twice last season, in back-to-back games as the Deacons traveled to Cassell Coliseum for the final game of the regular season, a 69-57 triumph for Tech. The next week, the two were matched up in the first round of the ACC Tournament at the Greensboro Coliseum, a game that Tech won handedly 85-63. Taylor Emery scored 26 points and forward Regan Magarity (22 points, 14 rebounds) and Trinity Baptiste (12 points, 15 rebounds) both recorded double-doubles.
NEXT TIME ON CARILION CLINIC COURT•The Hokies are back at Cassell Coliseum on Sunday, February 23 to play host to the Virginia Cavaliers. Tipoff on ACC Network Extra is set for 7 p.m.•In the season’s first meeting, Tech earned a 69-61 victory at John Paul Jones Arena behind a balanced offensive attack that saw all five starters record double figures.
Dara Mabrey led the squad with 15 points, including a memorable 3-pointer from the logo as the shot clock wound down from an out of bounds play under the basket. The Hokies outrebounded the Cavaliers 41-30 and went 18-22 from the free throw line.