In similar fashion to their 92–65 win over Furman in the first round of the Women’s National Invitational Tournament, the Virginia Tech Hokies (21-11, 6-10) pulled away from the Virginia Commonwealth University Rams (24-9, 13-3) after the first quarter, defeating the Rams 82–72 and advancing to their third straight WNIT Sweet 16.
“All in all, it's a good win,” Virginia Tech head coach Kenny Brooks said. “Anytime you can win against an in-state opponent, it's a good win. Beth (O'Boyle) does a really good job with that team. We'll look back on it one day and understand that it's a good win, but right now it's about surviving and advancing, so I'm very proud of our kids.”
With the score sitting at 16–15 Virginia Tech after the first quarter, the Hokies rained in four 3-pointers in the second quarter and ended the half an unconscious 6-8 from long range, swishing long balls through the nets whether or not there was staunch defense being played. Meanwhile, the Rams hit just 5-14 from downtown, struggling to keep up with Tech’s shooting from distance.
It was an all-around group effort for Virginia Tech with Taylor Emery, Trinity Baptiste, Aisha Sheppard, Rachel Camp and Regan Magarity all reaching the double-digit points plateau.
Emery and Baptiste led the way for the Hokies. Virginia Tech’s regular season scoring leader scored a game-high 21 points, constantly keeping the defense on its heels and showcasing her big-game ability. Baptiste was Tech’s top post player, dropping 14 points, collecting nine rebounds, dishing out three assists and keeping the pressure on the VCU defense by continually driving to the cup, shooting 10 foul shots.
After a slow start where she scored just four points through the first three quarters in what may well have been the last home game of her collegiate career, Magarity eventually settled into her game, moving to third place on Virginia Tech’s all-time scoring list and finishing with 10 points, 12 rebounds, one assist and three steals.
Virginia Tech’s starters weren’t the only ones to get in on the fun in the second round WNIT matchup against VCU. Bench points were integral to the Hokies maintaining a comfortable cushion throughout the game. Camp led the charge off the bench with 11 points, five rebounds and two steals, while Alexis Jean and Kendyl Brooks scored six and three points, respectively, giving Tech 20 points off the bench.
As runner-up in last year’s WNIT Championship and coming up short in the WNIT Elite Eight the previous season, Virginia Tech looks to win its first WNIT crown in school history and make its second WNIT title game. The Hokies will face Kenny Brooks' alma mater James Madison (27-5, 17-1) on Thursday, March 28 at 7 p.m. in Harrisonburg, Virginia.