WNIT 2nd Round:
VT 68, George Washington 52
by Will Stewart, TechSideline.com 3/16/02
Blacksburg, VA -- The Hokie women's basketball team dominated George Washington 41-20 in the second half and came storming from behind to win their 2nd round WNIT game, 68-52.
Tech was led by center Ieva Kublina, who had 21 points, 9 rebounds, and 4 blocks. Kublina shot just 8-21 from the field, but she was Tech's most steady player throughout, with 11 first-half points and 10 second-half points.
Only one other Hokie, Chrystal Starling, had double-figure scoring, with 10 points, but three Hokies -- Lisa Guarneri, Sarah Hicks, and Erin Gibson -- had 9 points in a balanced attack.
GW used suffocating exterior defense and hot three-point shooting to spur themselves to a 30-18 lead. 17 of Tech's 18 points had come from Kublina (10) and Starling (7), while the rest of the team struggled, particularly on the perimeter. GW's Greeba Outen-Barlow nailed three straight three-pointers, and the Colonials led by a dozen, 30-18, with 5:47 to go.
Tech put on the clamps defensively for the remainder of the first half, holding GW to just one basket, but the Hokies failed to capitalize on the GW dry spell. While GW was scoring just two points, Tech missed four layups and five free throws. Had the Hokies shot better from the field and the line, they would have led at half time. As it stood, when Sarah Hicks nailed a three-pointer with five seconds to go, the Hokies were able to head into half time with just a 32-27 deficit.
Tech was lucky to be down by just five, because GW shot 63.2% in the first half, including 4-6 on three-pointers. Meanwhile, the Hokies shot only 29.6% and missed half of their 18 free throws. Tech was kept in the game primarily by 17 first-half turnovers by GW.
The second half was a different story. GW's torrid shooting cooled, as the Colonials hit just 26.9% (7-26) in the second half, including just 1 of 4 three-pointers. The Hokies got back their defense, their offense, and their confidence, in that order, and rolled over the suddenly punchless Colonials.
Tech outrebounded GW 28-18 in the second half and turned the ball over just 4 times. The Hokies got two second-half three-pointers from Hicks and 7 rebounds from freshman Erin Gibson, and the rest of the team stepped up defensively and offensively to win going away.
The Hokies also stopped the bleeding defensively. Outen-Barlow, after scoring 17 points in the first half, went dry until she hit a free throw with 6:53 to go for her only second-half point.
One key to the victory was the play of Erin Gibson. She did not play most of the first half, but when she entered the game late in the half, her defensive and rebounding hustle sparked the Hokies from that point until the end of the game. Gibson's physical play, combined with Kublina's scoring punch, and solid second-half play from point guard Emily Lipton, gave the Hokies the chemistry they needed to overcome GW.
Also notable was guard Lisa Guarneri, who nailed key jumpers and snared an impressive five offensive rebounds, including three in a row late in the game, in a sequence that brought the Hokie crowd to its feet and a mischievous smile to the face of the 5-8 Guarneri.
The win gave the Hokies (20-10) their fifth-straight 20-win season in Coach Bonnie Henrickson's five years at Tech.
Tech will now wait on the outcome of a Sunday afternoon game between Vermont and St. Joseph's in Vermont. If Vermont wins, the WNIT will examine bids from Vermont and Virginia Tech to determine which team will get the quarterfinal home game.
Bids are dollar amounts offered by participating schools to the WNIT to "buy" the WNIT home game. Teams with higher attendance figures are more likely to make higher bids, leading to the common misconception, repeated by most of the media, that the WNIT home games are awarded based on attendance figures.
For their two WNIT games, the Hokies have drawn 1,665 and 2,281 fans. For their first-round game, Vermont drew 2,933 fans. If they draw a similar or higher number of fans for their second-round game (and win), they may be able to out-bid the Hokies for the third-round game.
If St. Joseph's wins, it is highly likely that the Hokies will get the home game against the Hawks in the third round, which would be a second straight game against an old A-10 opponent.
In either event, the game will be played Wednesday night. The Hokies should know if it will be in Cassell Coliseum or on the road by Sunday night.