Virginia Tech 65, Villanova 59
by Will Stewart, TechSideline.com 1/23/01
Blacksburg, VA -- Down by 7 points with 5:28 to go, the Hokie women's basketball team scored the last 13 points of the game to close out a big 65-59 win over #24 Villanova in Blacksburg. 2,040 fans saw 14 second-half fouls on Villanova play a key role in this physical contest.
Virginia Tech was led by Tere Williams with 22 points and 7 rebounds, and Amy Wetzel with 18 points. Wetzel and Williams scored 26 of Tech's 36 second-half points to lead the Hokies to victory.
Tech struggled with Villanova's balanced attack. On the inside, the Wildcats were led by huge center Brandi Barnes, who stands only 6-3 but is a wide body that caused Tech trouble both offensively and defensively. Barnes had 16 points and 10 rebounds for Villanova in the game, including 4 first-half offensive rebounds.
On the perimeter, Villanova was led in scoring by a game-high 27 points from guard Trish Juhline, who hit 4 of 10 three-pointers in the game.
Tech got off to a good start in this one, taking an 18-8 lead with 10:12 to go in the first half. Villanova, the much larger and more physical team, was using their size to their advantage inside, while the Hokies were trying to exploit the Wildcats with their quickness.
At this point, two Villanova starters were out with injuries. Starting forward Nicole Druckenmiller, the sister of former Virginia Tech quarterback Jim Druckenmiller, took an early elbow to the face from Tech's Nicole Jones and left the game. Druckenmiller would return later but played only 8 minutes in the game.
On the play that made it 18-8, Villanova starting guard Mimi Riley turned her ankle and surrendered the ball at the top of the key to Amy Wetzel, who took it the length of the court for the ten point lead with just over ten minutes to go in the half. Riley was helped off the court. She would return later and play a total of 35 minutes, but she spent the next five minutes on the bench, receiving treatment for her ankle.
With Riley and Druckenmiller out of the game, the Hokies were threatening to run away with this one, but Villanova responded with a 10-2 run over the next five minutes to make it 20-18, Tech, with 5:34 to go. The Hokies were able to extend the lead to 29-24 at the half. Williams led the Hokies with 8 points in the half, and Wetzel and Chrystal Starling each had 6.
During half time, both teams made their adjustments, and the first five minutes of the second half saw both teams execute their coaches' game plans perfectly. The Hokies cleared out and went down inside to Tere Williams, who took 6 of Tech's first 7 shots of the second half. Williams scored Tech's first 8 points of the half, beating Villanova's bigger but slower post players with her quickness.
Meanwhile, Villanova spread the floor and attacked the basket with their passing game, resulting in layups by their guards and by Barnes. The Wildcats also started nailing their three-pointers, and in all, they hit 10 of their first 12 shots of the second half.
The result was that Villanova took the lead at 34-33 with 16:46 to go, and then stretched it to 51-47 with 8:33 to go. The Hokies closed the gap to 51-50 on a jumper by Williams, but then Villanova embarked on an 8-2 run to take a 59-52 lead with 5:28 to go.
That was it for the Wildcats, though. They wouldn't score again. Down the stretch, Villanova missed 7 straight field goals, missed 2 of 2 free throws, and had 4 fouls and 2 turnovers. The Hokies went on a 13-0 run to close out the 65-59 win.
First Amy Wetzel scored 6 of Tech's next 8 points to spot Tech to a 60-59 lead with 3:27 to go, and then Tere Williams scored on a layup. In the last 20 seconds, Chrystal Starling and Wetzel hit 3 of 4 free throws to build the final margin.
Despite the 7 straight misses, Villanova shot 13-25 in the second half (52%), and it was almost enough to overcome the Hokies. But the second-half efforts of Wetzel and Williams ensured that the Hokies got their third straight Big East win.
Tech is now 13-5, 4-3 in the Big East. Villanova, who came into this game fresh off a 78-65 upset of then-No. 11 Rutgers, is also 13-5, 4-3. The win should also boost Tech's RPI rating. The Hokies came into this game #24 in the RPI, and Villanova was #7.
Tech's next game is Wednesday, January 31st, at Syracuse. Syracuse is currently 8-7 overall, 2-3 in the league.