The Virginia Tech women’s basketball team (16-5, 6-4 ACC) hosted the N.C. State Wolfpack (21-1, 10-1 ACC) on Thursday, Feb. 6, for a game that served as a rematch of a game from early January where the Hokies lost 76-69 in Raleigh, North Carolina. Virginia Tech came into the game off the heels of a big conference win, while N.C. State came in riding a seven-game win streak.
The first half saw N.C. State take control early with stifling interior defense, and an advantage in rebounding that led to easy second chance points. Virginia Tech struggled to find a shooting rhythm, going 6-30 from the field in the first half, with Taja Cole leading the way with 10 points.
The score at the half was 28-17, with the Wolfpack on top.
N.C. State started the second half by jumping out to a 33-19 lead, which would end up being its biggest lead of the night. From there, the Hokies started to slowly chip away at the deficit, with a 20-7 scoring run that enabled Virginia Tech to climb within one point of the Wolfpack lead before the end of the third quarter.
“We had an opportunity to get back into the game and cut it to one in the third quarter, and was on pure effort,” said head coach Kenny Brooks after the game. “We just ‘efforted’ our way back into the game.”
Despite the valiant comeback effort by the Hokies, N.C. State started to build its lead back up aided largely by free throws. Virginia Tech was faced with a frustrating amount of foul calls in the final quarter, which led to the Wolfpack shooting 22 of its 28 free throws in the final 10 minutes of play, while shooting 82.1% from the line for the game. The excessive amount of fouls being called helped N.C. State keep its distance from the Hokies until the end of the game.
The standout performance of the game went to N.C. State center Elissa Cunane, who recorded a double-double with 17 points and 16 rebounds. Meanwhile for the Hokies, Cole ended her good night with a game-leading 19 points, with Dara Mabrey chipping in 15 points of her own in the losing effort.
When questioned about how he feels about the team going forward, coach Brooks was quite optimistic.
“It’s not often that you can walk in and there’s a seventh ranked team in the country coming into your building and you feel like you have a good chance of winning if you play well,” Brooks said. “It’s a disappointing loss and we know we didn’t play well, but we are going to learn from it and we have to put it behind us very quickly.”
The women’s team will be back in action Sunday, February 9, against UNC.