Despite a valiant effort to come back from a deficit as large as 15 points, No. 7 Virginia Tech (11–2, 1–2 ACC) came up short on the road against Clemson (10–4, 1–1 ACC), 64–59.
The Hokies jumped out to an eight-point lead early in the first quarter, but a nearly three minute scoring drought allowed the Tigers to come back and take the lead. Two more long scoring droughts in the second quarter allowed the Tigers to extend their lead to 12 points by halftime.
The second half was more forgiving to the Hokies as they got their offense in order and their deficit down to one with just over four minutes left in regulation. Unfortunately, the lead-changing shot never came as both teams only managed one made shot each over the next four minutes. A couple trips to the free throw line in the closing seconds sealed the Tiger’s first Power Five win of the season.
The Tigers finished the game with four starters with double-digits in the scoring column. Among those four starters was forward Amari Robinson, who finished as the game’s leading scorer with 16 points and nine rebounds.
As for the Hokies, guard Cayla King led the Hokies in scoring with 15 points on 5–11 shooting from three-point range. Behind King were Georgia Amoore and Elizabeth Kitley who both scored 14 points each.
As the Hokies continue to play without their transfer guard Ashley Owusu, who is recovering from surgery on her hand, the strain on the lineup is evident. With a rotation of only six players receiving substantial playing time, the Hokies are struggling to perform late in games, whether that involves closing out games where they are leading or games where they are clawing back from a deficit.
The Hokies will need to have a deep rotation if they want to keep up with the better teams in their conference. Whether head coach Kenny Brooks finds that depth elsewhere on his bench or simply hopes for Owusu’s swift recovery, the team needs at least one more player who can play valuable minutes.
After losing two of their last three contests, the Hokies will now return home for a New Year’s Day matchup against No. 13 North Carolina. That game will tip off this Sunday at 4 p.m.