For the second-straight season, Virginia Tech women’s basketball is in the quarterfinals of the WNIT. Tech advanced on Thursday night, knocking off Fordham 81-50 inside Cassell Coliseum.
“Great game. Great game for our kids, on a lot of different fronts,” said Virginia Tech head coach Kenny Brooks. “We were able to get back to the same spot we got to last year, with a chance to further one more win this year than we had last year. But most importantly, I think our team is growing up, and I’m watching them grow up.
“You want to use situations like the WNIT. You want to win it, but you want to get better in doing so. I think we’re doing that, and I like the way the kids are coming together. They’re playing well together, they’re playing for each other and I definitely think these are the moments that are going to propel us into next year, and hopefully we’re able to continue making strides.”
Rachel Camp led the way for Virginia Tech, scoring a season-high 20 points on just 7-of-8 shooting. Four other Hokies scored in double digits, with Regan Magarity scoring 17, Taylor Emery scoring 15, Aisha Sheppard scoring 13 and Alexis Jean adding 12. Virginia Tech shot 50 percent from the field overall and scored 22 second-chance points.
“I thought we did a good job exploiting mismatches,” Brooks said. “Regan did a really good job of presenting herself down low, getting the ball into her. We moved the ball around. We didn’t settle for the first opportunity. We did it a couple times, but as we talked about it we moved the ball around, and as you move the ball around, defenses will break down and we found the holes.”
Virginia Tech found open looks on offense all game long, but waited a bit to pull away. Tech shot 12-of-23 in the second quarter and ended the first half on an 18-7 run. Camp nailed a three-pointer at the buzzer, and the Hokies led 45-24 at halftime.
The Hokies’ dominance continued in the second half, as they outscored Fordham by 10 points after halftime. Virginia Tech’s victory gave them their 21st win of the season, one more win than the Hokies had last year. Virginia Tech is now 41-27 under Brooks’ tutelage.
“If you told me everything that would have happened this year, and you still told me we would be on 21 wins and counting, I would have taken that in a heartbeat,” Brooks said. “But I’m very proud of this group. Not just the players, but the coaches, the support staff, everyone has really dug in. If you asked if we’re ahead of schedule, probably, because the kids are doing a really good job. We need to take necessary steps to win the right games, but 21 wins, getting back, it’s not easy getting to this part, this juncture in this tournament.”
The Hokies’ win pushes them to the quarterfinals of the 64-team WNIT. Virginia Tech will take on Alabama in the next round on Sunday at 2 p.m. inside Cassell Coliseum. Virginia Tech advanced to the quarterfinals last season as well, winning three straight games before falling to Michigan 80-62. Now, the Hokies are looking for a different result.
“We’re in championship mode,” Taylor Emery said. “We really have a goal and we express it every day in practice. Each game, we come out and we play a little bit harder, a little bit better, a little more together and it’s really starting to show how much we’re going to do in the WNIT. We have a championship goal.”