Virginia Tech 70, La Salle 57 (Women)
Thursday, February 18, 1999

The Hokies struggled with the Explorers for a while, trailing by as many as eight in the first half, but Tech eventually put La Salle away for the 13 point victory and the Atlantic 10 West Division championship.
The Hokies got off to another sluggish start, and La Salle played much better than they did a few days back, in a 62-35 shellacking that occurred in Blacksburg.  The Hokies were hampered by the fact that Amy Wetzel was out with the flu, and it took them some time to adjust to the new starting lineup.
It was a little worrisome as Tech fell behind by eight, 24-16, but the Hokies were rescued by senior forward Michelle Houseright, who bounced back from the flu earlier in the week.  While the rest of the team struggled to figure out what was going on, Michelle picked them up and carried them on her back, scoring 15 of Tech's first 30 points.  Michelle wouldn't score again, but she had done her job, keeping Tech close at a time when no one else could get the job done.  Michelle was aided by Maria Albertsson's pair of first-half three-pointers, which also provided a much-needed boost.

After that, free throw shooting, defense, and Tere Williams took over.  Tech's talented sophomore forward, who has struggled lately under the pressure of double- and triple-teams, started out slow in this one as well, but she would finish with 18 points, 9 in each half.

The key statistic for this game is the much-discussed art of shooting free throws.  The Hokies returned to form, canning 26-29 free throws, or 89.6%.  Their accuracy from the line kept the game from becoming really unnerving late, when La Salle closed it to five points at 62-57.  It was free throw shooting that had put the Hokies ahead at that point, and they cruised to victory behind for FT's.

I listened to Coach Bonnie after the game, and she seemed satisfied with the effort, so I'm satisfied, too.  Bonnie doesn't pay any attention to the margin of victory, choosing instead to base her feelings on how the team executed.   She seemed much more upbeat in the post-game than she has in some other victories, so, like I said, I'm happy, too.

With the win, the Hokies clinch the A-10 West title, so Sunday's game against GW is now "just" for bragging rights and the continued all-important quest to become a Top-16 NCAA seed.  The Hokies are hoping for a capacity crowd for the Sunday noon tipoff.  You can buy tickets in advance by calling 1-800-VATECH4.  Important Notes:  on game day, the ticket office will open at 9:00 a.m., and the doors for seating will open at 11:00.

USA Today game recap

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