2001 Big East Tournament, 2nd Round:
Virginia Tech 73, Villanova 67
by Will Stewart, TechSideline.com 3/4/01

Storrs, CT -- Tere Williams scored 18 second-half points to lead the Hokies to a hard-fought victory over Villanova in the second round of the women's Big East Tournament.

Williams, who was held to 2 points in the first half, led the Hokie offense through most of a seesaw second half. With the Hokies leading 32-31 at the half, Williams scored 18 of Tech's first 33 points after the break, spurring the Hokies to a 64-59 advantage with 1:49 to go.

From there, Chrystal Starling, who led the Hokies with 21 points, scored 6 of Tech's last 9 points in the last minute of the game, including 4-4 from the free throw line. Villanova was not able to get closer than 5 points down the stretch.

"I think (Villanova's Brandi Barnes) did a tremendous job defensively the first half on me, I really just couldnít get a shot off, sheís got a big body and she had her hand up," Williams said of her meager first-half performance. "I couldnít elevate over her and Iím used to being able to elevate over other people, but the second half I started out early outside and that got me started."

It was just Villanova's second loss of the season when scoring over 60 points. The Wildcats were previously 20-1 in games where they had gone over 60.

The contest was a battle between Tech's overall game and the Wildcats' barrage of three-pointers. The Hokies jumped off to a 9-point lead early in the game, but Villanova closed it to 25-23 late in the first half. Tech moved back in front 30-23, but the Wildcats scored the last four points of the half, including a three-pointer at the buzzer, to make it 32-31 Tech at the half.

It seemed that every time Tech got a cushion, the Wildcats would hit one or more three-pointers to make the game tight again. Villanova took 21 three-pointers for the game and made 9 (43%). When Williams came out strong for Tech early in the second half, Villanova hit three 3-pointers to leave the two teams tied at 40 with 14 minutes to go.

The teams went back and forth for the next ten minutes, with Tech holding a 58-57 lead with under four minutes to go. Tech then went on a key 10-4 run that ended with Lisa Guarneri hitting both ends of a 1-1 to give the Hokies a 68-61 with 40 seconds to go.

From there, Starling hit four free throws in a row, and Sarah Hicks added the front end of a one-and-one for Tech's final 5 points.

The Hokies shot 25-47 (53%) from the field and 4-8 (50%) from three point range. Tech was 19-21 (91%) from the free throw line and didn't miss a free throw until Tere Williams missed the front end of a one-and-one with just over 30 seconds to go in the game.

The Hokies won the rebounding battle 29-26 and committed just 12 turnovers in the game (to Villanova's 13). Amy Wetzel and Ieva Kublina each contributed 10 points to go with Starling's 21 and Williams's 20.

Villanova was led by Courtney Mix with 17 points. The Wildcats finish 21-8.

Tech improves to 21-7 and will move on to the tournament semifinals on Monday, where the Hokies will face Notre Dame at 6 p.m. (At the time of this report, the Notre Dame game had not concluded, but the #1-seed Irish were beating #8 Georgetown 74-19 with 9:04 to go in the game.)

"We have to make some adjustments and play well, we have tonight and part of
tomorrow to work on a game plan, but we are excited about the opportunity to play whichever team it is," Tech Coach Bonnie Henrickson said immediately after the Tech win. "We hope that we have improved our (NCAA Tournament) seed with another win over a top 25 program."

USA Today box score
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