The Virginia Tech women's basketball team lost their seventh straight game in heartbreaking fashion on Sunday. The Hokies blew a double digit lead with less than five minutes remaining to lose to Florida State by a score of 56-54.
Virginia Tech played a great first half, and they took a 28-21 lead into the break. That was thanks in large part to Trinity Baptiste, who tallied 9 points, 2 rebounds, and 2 assists in the first half.
Taylor Emery hit the first basket of the second half to give the Hokies a 9 point lead, but Florida State followed that up with a run of their own. They outscored the Hokies 11-2 in the next 3 minutes to tie the game at 32 with 6:59 remaining in the third quarter.
However, Virginia Tech battled back with a vengeance. The Hokies have blown multiple double digit leads in ACC play this season, but they appeared to have learned from those mistakes as they went on a 11-0 run to make it 43-32.
Even after the Seminoles answered with 5 straight points, the Hokies seemed to be in good shape. They took a 45-37 lead into the final frame.
The first five minutes of the fourth quarter continued to look good for Virginia Tech. Even though they committed 3 turnovers before the media timeout, they made up for it with good defense. With 4:53 left in the game, the Hokies had stretched their lead to 10 at 52-42.
That's when the turnovers set in. Virginia Tech gave the ball away 5 times between the 4:05 and 1:33 mark of the fourth quarter alone. That allowed Florida State to go on an 8-2 run and trim the lead to 54-51.
Virginia Tech had a good defensive possession, and they got the ball back while still holding a 3-point advantage. Taylor Emery drew a foul with 40 seconds to go. It looked as though she would have a chance to make it a two possession game.
Strangely, the refs went to the monitor and determined that while Emery had been fouled, she also committed a flagrant foul herself by elbowing Morgan Jones in the process of the shot. This meant that both Emery and Jones would get 2 free throws. Then, Florida State would get the ball on the ensuing possession.
"[The referees said] it was a chicken wing to the throat," said head coach Kenny Brooks of the explanation he received about the flagrant foul call. "I haven't seen it, but I know there was no intent there."
To add her tough night, Emery missed both of her free throws. Jones made both of hers, and Florida State got the ball trailing by just one. Kendyl Brooks fouled Nausia Woolfolk in the lane, and her two free throws gave the Seminoles their first lead of the game with 22 seconds to go.
Once the Hokies got the ball back, Emery got her chance to redeem herself. She created a wide open look for herself from the elbow, but she missed it badly. The ball deflected off a Seminole player and went out of bounds, giving the Hokies another chance to draw up a play with 16 seconds left.
Emery got yet another open look, this time near the baseline from just outside the paint, but it rimmed out. Woolfolk got the rebound, got fouled, and made the first free throw to make it 56-54.
"I had some good looks, I just didn't knock them down," said a visibly emotional Emery after the game.
Woolfolk's second shot from the stripe clanged off the back iron, and Emery got the rebound on the run.
Rather than trying to drive, Emery kicked it out to freshman Dara Mabrey for a three-point attempt from the corner.
"Dara was calling for the ball, she was open, and I hit her," said Emery.
While Mabrey was not wide
open, she certainly had a good look from a spot where she typically likes to shoot. Unfortunately for Virginia Tech, her triple with 2 seconds to go was too strong. Florida State held on for the 56-54 victory.
With the loss, the Hokies fall to 13-7 overall and 0-7 in the ACC. Out of the seven ACC losses that the Hokies have suffered this season, they were either tied or led going into the fourth quarter in four of them. Sunday was the second time that the Hokies have a blown a double digit lead in the fourth quarter, the other coming against UVA.
"I can't believe that we are an 0-7 team with the way that we have played," said Coach Brooks. "We've been right there, had chances to win, and for whatever reason the ball doesn't go our way."
Key Stat - Florida State Wins Turnover Battle 23-8
Virginia Tech had 15 more turnovers than Florida State did throughout the course of the game. Their 23 total giveaways included 8 in the fourth quarter alone.
"They were putting pressure on us, and we were just careless with the ball," said senior Regan Magarity. "Our passes were soft, and we didn't come to meet the ball. Just careless mistakes that led to wide open layups."
This sloppy play also allowed the Seminoles to take many more shots. In fact, Florida State took 21 more shots than Virginia Tech (68-47). That allowed the Seminoles to win despite shooting just 30.9% from the field (compared to 42.6% for the Hokies).
The Virginia Tech women's basketball team will be back in action on Thursday in Pittsburgh. Both the Hokies and the Panthers will be looking for their first conference victory when they tip off at 7pm on ACC Network Extra.
Photo Credit: Dave Knachel/Virginia Tech Athletics
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