Virginia Tech (4-0) has extended its winning streak to four games to start the season after a 86-43 throttling of the Maryland Eastern Shore Hawks (1-4). Maryland Eastern Shore is now losers of three straight games after winning its season opener against Wesley College.
The Hokies came out to a 12-2 run before the first media timeout, with junior Aisha Sheppard scoring five points and sophomore Dara Mabrey hitting a corner three early. Maryland Eastern Shore initially ran a 2-3 zone that the Hokies handled well at the start of the game with quick passing and smart play inside the paint.
With 5:25 left in the first quarter, the Hokies suffered a scare when center Elizabeth Kitley came down hard going for a rebound. She was subsequently pulled from the game. Despite looking like she was in some serious pain, the freshman would come back with just over two minutes left in the quarter. She scored a layup on her first possession back and looked good to go the rest of the game.
The first quarter ended with an 18-10 Hokie advantage. The Hokies outrebounded the Hawks 12-to-five and their inside scoring ended up being the difference; Kitley led the team with three rebounds in the quarter.
The second half favored the Hokies once again, with the team outscoring the Hawks 11-4 in the first five minutes of the period. The Hawks continued to throw different defensive strategies at the Hokies, including a 3-2 zone and some man-to-man, but it didn’t faze head coach Kenny Brooks’ offense.
“I’m very happy with the production we got inside, especially going against a zone so much because you can have the tendency to step out and just keep jacking up threes,” coach Brooks said.
By the end of the half, Tech had pulled away to a 20-point lead and had all of the momentum after freshman Cayla King scored a layup at the buzzer off an offensive rebound.
Tech continued to dominate on the boards with 23 rebounds; Maryland Eastern Shore managed just 13.
Despite their comfortable lead at the half, there was no particular Hokie who stood out as the leading scorer. It was instead a balanced scoring effort, with eight players getting points on the board. The balanced scoring can be attributed to the team’s 22 assists in the game.
“Coach has been really telling us to share the ball more, and get everybody involved. The first game we played we had 28 assists, and we set a record, so we’ve just been trying to follow up on that,” said junior Trinity Baptiste.
The Hokies continued to dominate on the offensive end in the second half, and by the time the fourth quarter was set to start, they held a comfortable 71-36 lead. The team shot over 50% from the field and was simply better in every facet of the game against a Hawks team struggling to shoot from the outside.
The final 10 minutes of play felt like garbage time in a game that was already won, but that didn’t stop the Tech bench from getting animated after every basket. The high energy and team-first charisma in the final minutes of play from the bench were a microcosm of the team’s balanced scoring attack.
Baptiste was perhaps the most impressive player on the court for the Hokies, shooting an efficient 7-of-10 from the field for 20 points to go along with eight rebounds. Stats aside, Baptiste seemed to be doing all the little things right on the floor, and after going two games without a field goal, she seemed to have as good a bounce-back game as a player could have.
“She got into a groove,” coach Brooks said. “She was just the recipient of some good passes and some good looks and was in the right place, and she took advantage of it.”
Virginia Tech will look to continue its strong play into its next game Nov. 24 against Davidson at 5 p.m. It will be Tech’s last home game before the team embarks on a trip to Daytona Beach, Florida, for the Daytona Beach Invitational.