WNIT 3rd Round:
VT 76, Vermont 48
by Will Stewart, TechSideline.com 3/20/02
Blacksburg, VA -- Behind the red-hot shooting of forward Sarah Hicks, who led all scorers with 22 points, the Hokie women's basketball team flattened Vermont 76-48 in the WNIT quarterfinals before 2,884 fans in Blacksburg.
Hicks blistered the nets for 17 first-half points, shooting 3-3 from three point range and 6-7 overall in the first 20 minutes. Her efforts, plus 12 first-half points from center Ieva Kublina, staked the Hokies to a 45-31 half time lead. The Hokies coasted from that point on, clearing the bench with nearly ten minutes left, and won going away.
The Hokies played every uninjured player on their roster, and each Hokie but one played at least ten minutes and scored. The only exception was forward Davina Simmons, who played just 7 minutes and was scoreless on 0-3 shooting.
In addition to 22 points from Hicks on 8-11 shooting (4-5 three-pointers), the Hokies got 13 points and 9 rebounds from Kublina (who was 6-10 from the field) and a career-high 13 points from freshman center Rayna Dubose, in just ten minutes of playing time.
Vermont came out with the mission of shutting down Tech's post play. In the first half, they collapsed on Kublina and forward Nicole Jones, as well as backup center/forward Erin Gibson. The Catamounts were successful at first, limiting Kublina to 4 points in the first 13 minutes, and it helped them stay in the game early.
The problem for Vermont was that Hicks and the Tech backcourt of Lisa Guarneri, Emily Lipton, and Chrystal Starling were blazing hot. That quartet scored 25 of Tech's first 29 points, and it was a three-pointer by Hicks with 13 minutes to go in the half that broke a 15-15 tie and put the Hokies on top for good.
Kublina took over late in the first half, scoring 8 of her 12 first-half points in the last seven minutes of the half, and the Hokies started to run away with it, outscoring Vermont 16-8 during that time period.
The story of the second half was the Tech defense. Vermont scored just 4 points in the first 11 minutes of the second half, and by that time, it was 58-35 Hokies, and Tech coach Bonnie Henrickson started clearing the bench.
The last ten minutes of the game were the Rayna Dubose show, as the 6-3 freshman overpowered the Catamounts and scored all of her 13 points on 6-8 shooting.
The Hokies held Vermont to 29.6% shooting (8-27) in the second half. For the game, Tech had 11 turnovers and Vermont 14, but the Hokies capitalized better, outscoring Vermont 18-2 on points off turnovers. The Hokies outrebounded Vermont 43-26, including 14-4 on the offensive glass, which helped Tech to a 10-1 advantage on second-chance points.
Vermont was led by Aaron Yantzi with 14 points and Morgan Hall with 11. Yantzi and Hall shot 11-19 (58%), but the rest of the team was just 7-28 (25%). Vermont brought two busloads of fans, who sat behind the Catamount bench and were vocal and supportive to the bitter end.
Tech will host Houston Saturday at 7 p.m. in one WNIT semifinal matchup. Houston knocked off Valparaiso on the road Wednesday, 61-53.
The other semifinal matchup will feature Michigan State versus Oregon (venue unknown at this time). MSU drew 2,696 fans for their quarterfinal 79-61 win over Alabama. Oregon beat Washington on the road 77-73 in the quarterfinals. The Ducks drew an average of 3,048 fans for their first- and second-round home victories.
If the Hokies get past Houston Saturday and make it to the finals, the Tech bid (a dollar amount offered by the school to the WNIT for the right to host the game) will compete with the bid made by the Michigan State - Oregon winner. Since MSU and Oregon are both drawing well for their games, the bid process will be a competitive one.
But first, the Hokies have to concern themselves with Houston. We'll have more on that matchup later this week.