Losers of two straight, Virginia Tech women’s basketball needed to turn things around. It took a while, but the Hokies eventually seized that opportunity on Sunday, knocking off Clemson (11-17, 1-14) 53-45 inside Cassell Coliseum.
“I told the kids, we’ve had some games where we played pretty and we lost, so I’ll take an ugly win,” said head coach Kenny Brooks. “You’ve got to give credit to our kids. They came out, never really hung their heads when it actually looked bleak.”
Things did look bleak for three quarters. Virginia Tech’s offense didn’t get going until the fourth quarter, as the Hokies entered the final period shooting just 12-36 (33.3 percent) from the field. The Hokies missed both open and contested shots, and turned the ball over consistently through three quarters.
Fortunately for Tech, the offense got going late. Virginia Tech finished the game on a 19-4 run, with Rachel Camp and Taylor Emery leading the way. Clemson led by one with 2:32 left in the fourth, but Camp hit a layup while being fouled, and converted the three-point play to give the Hokies just their third lead of the night. Camp then nailed a three on the Hokies’ next possession, putting the game out of reach for Clemson’s lackluster offense.
“I felt like we locked in really good on defense in the last couple of minutes, on the run,” said Camp, who scored a game-high 18 points on 7-15 shooting. “We just locked in more, and we got stops when we needed.”
Virginia Tech’s defense got better as the game went on, and they were great after the first quarter. Clemson, who entered the game as the worst shooting team in the ACC, shot just 29.7 percent from the field. The Tigers finished the first quarter 8-15 from the field, but shot just 22 percent from the floor after that.
“I thought we were good defensively the whole game, it just didn’t look that way because they did hit some shots, we just couldn’t hit any,” Brooks said. “They were scoring right where we thought they would score.”
Virginia Tech isn’t in the NCAA Tournament picture at this point, but the Hokies should earn another WNIT bid, their third straight. Tech is now 6-8 in the ACC, which ties a program-high in ACC wins in one season.
The Hokies are now 17-10 overall, and their 6-8 record against conference teams puts them in ninth in the ACC. If Tech finishes the regular season in ninth, the Hokies would avoid having to play on the first day of the ACC Tournament, which begins on Feb. 28. Currently, Virginia Tech would play Syracuse in the second round of the tournament.
Staying in ninth in the ACC Standings will not be easy. On Thursday, the Hokies will travel to South Bend to take on No. 5 Notre Dame. Tech will round out their regular season at Miami, who knocked off the Hokies inside Cassell Coliseum on Jan. 28.