It wasn’t pretty, but Virginia Tech women’s basketball is moving on.
The Hokies (19-13) grinded out a 75-64 win over Navy (24-10) in the second round of the WNIT on Sunday, thanks to a hot-shooting first half and gritty plays down the stretch.
Virginia Tech finished the game shooting 48.9 percent from the field and made 12 of their 22 three-point attempts.
“We’re capable of going 15-32 like we did against Boston College, and we’re capable of going 2-29 like we did against UVA,” Brooks said. “It’s just a matter of what night it is, whether the stars are aligned, I don’t know. I see them in practice and I see them making them, and some days I see them and they miss almost every one in practice. It’s who they are.”
Chanette Hicks led Virginia Tech in scoring with 18 points, while Samantha Hill added 16. Sidney Cook, who struggled in the opening round vs. Rider, finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds.
“Today, I just felt like I had to perform,” Cook said. “My team needs me.”
As well as Virginia Tech shot the ball, the Hokies struggled to take care of it. The Hokies turned it over 22 times, many of which were unforced. Regan Magarity was credited with eight turnovers on her own, though many of which occurred when Tech tried to get her the ball in the post.
“Most of her turnovers weren’t her turnovers,” Hicks said. “We just threw it in there and they would kind of hit it out of her hand. I think it’s just us.”
Magarity was doubled-teamed for most of the game and struggled down low. She went 3-11 from the field, scored nine points and grabbed just three rebounds.
“To come away with an 11-point win, when we didn’t get the production from her that we really needed is tremendous,” Brooks said. “We have to be smarter with the basketball. I don’t want them to be careful, I want them to be smarter.”
Virginia Tech’s hot shooting gave them a comforting cushion for much of the first half. The Hokies shot over 50 percent from the field in both the first and second quarters and started 5-6 from beyond the three-point arc, allowing them to jump out to a 27-15 advantage with 8:14 left to go.
“We hit a lot of shots because they were open shots, they were good passes,” Hill said. “We were moving the ball and finding the best shot on offense.”
However, turnovers kept the Hokies from putting the game out of reach. Virginia Tech turned the ball over 12 times in the first half and Navy capitalized, scoring 14 points off of turnovers. Navy took advantage of sloppy ball handling and poor defense to go on a 7-0 run, cutting the Hokies’ lead to six points with 6:10 left in the half.
Brooks called timeout, hoping to refocus his team.
The timeout worked, and Virginia Tech responded with an immediate 9-0 run. The Hokies shored things up on the defensive end and took a 42-28 lead into the break.
Navy slowly chipped away at the lead in the third and fourth quarters as Virginia Tech struggled to take care of the basketball. The Hokies’ lead had been whittled down to 66-62 with 3:44 left to play, making it anyone’s game.
“I think they were just putting a lot more pressure on the ball and we weren’t as precise with our passes or our cuts,” Hill said. “It was a combination of them stepping up their defense and us not realizing that. It took us a few more minutes than we would have liked to get it under control, but they stepped up their defense and we didn’t react quickly.”
Fortunately for the Hokies, their bigs rose to the challenge. Cook and Regan Magarity combined for a 7-0 run, pushing the Hokies back to an 11-point advantage, effectively sealing the win.
Sunday’s win pushes Virginia Tech women’s basketball into the third round of the WNIT for the first time since the 2001-2002 season, when Virginia Tech lost in the fourth round to Houston. The Hokies will play on the road at Penn State, who is 21-10 on the season and finished 9-7 in the Big Ten.