Women's Basketball:
WNIT, First Round
Virginia Tech 80, Georgia State 56

Cassell Coliseum, 3/16/00
by Will Stewart, HokieCentral.com
HokieSportsInfo.com Box Score

Blacksburg, VA -- It was a tale of two halves. Amy Wetzel lit up the score board in the first half, and then her teammates lit up Georgia State in the second half. The result was an 80-56 win for the Hokies in a game that was close for the first 20 minutes, but not the second 20 minutes.

The Hokies led 39-35 at half time but blew out the Lady Panthers 41-21 in the second half for the final margin. In the first half, the Hokies threatened to pull away a number of times, but Georgia State always responded by closing the gap.

Tech’s junior guard Amy Wetzel single-handedly carried the Hokies to the half time lead, scoring 19 points before the break on a trio of three-pointers, four two-pointers, and a couple of free throws. "I was feeling it a little bit," Wetzel said after the game. "I hit a few outside shots, and a few in the lane, and I just went with it."

Wetzel’s three-pointers were the only outside success that Tech had against Georgia State’s 2-3 zone. The Lady Panthers threw the zone at the Hokies after Tech took a 19-11 lead and used it to tie the game up at 27-27 with six minutes to go in the first half.

Again, Tech took the lead, running off 7 straight points for a 34-27 margin, and again, Georgia State came back, closing it to 34-33. At the half, Tech’s advantage was only four points, and the game was very much in doubt.

In the second half, though, the Hokies started out by shredding the Panther zone for easy layups. Tech Coach Bonnie Henrickson challenged Tech forward Nicole Jones, who had only 4 points at half time, to step up, and she did. Jones led the charge in the second half, scoring 11 points, including a banked three-pointer as the shot clock expired.

Jones made every one of her field goal attempts for the game, going 7-7, and finished with 15 points. Wetzel had a quiet second half and finished with 22 points to lead the Hokies. In rebounding, Tech was led by Kim Seaver, who dominated the boards in her 13 minutes of play and had 6 rebounds.

Tech rushed to a 51-39 lead three minutes into the second half, and then both teams went quiet for nearly five minutes. The Hokies stretched the lead to 52-39, and then Georgia State closed it to 52-44 with 11:55 to go. It was as close as the Lady Panthers would get.

The Hokies went on a 20-7 run that started with two straight baskets by Jones and ended with her improbable three-point bank shot, her first three-pointer of the season. It was 72-51 with 3:57 to go, and the crowd of 2,039 roared its approval. A minute later, Bonnie Henrickson cleared the bench, in a game in which every Tech player scored except Katrina Williams, who didn’t play.

Georgia State was able to keep it close in the first half behind the scoring of TAAC player of the year Leslie McElrath and forward Evita Rogers, both of whom finished with 16 points on combined 12-18 shooting. In the second half though, Tech shut Rogers down and frustrated McElrath, who fouled out.

"On film," Henrickson said of McElrath, "she showed herself to be a player who likes to go to her left and who wears her emotions on her sleeve. So we tried to make her go to her right and to frustrate her, and eventually, we did."

In fact, it was McElrath’s foul trouble that spelled the beginning of the end for her team. When she picked up her fourth foul and sat down with ten minutes to go, her team was only down by eleven points, 58-47. With Rogers sputtering, Georgia State started to fall further behind, so McElrath re-entered the game, only to foul out on a charging call with 6:27 to go.

Tech’s Tere Williams played fairly well in her return from a knee injury, logging 24 minutes and scoring 11 points. She turned the ball over the first two times she touched it and generally looked a little rusty before settling down and shooting 4-7.

Williams herself was unimpressed with her comeback. "I’m not a perfectionist," she said, "but I do expect a lot of myself, and I don’t think I executed well at times."

As far as execution went, it was a mixed bag for the Hokies. They blistered the nets from the field, shooting 34-52 (65.4%), but they turned the ball over 22 times. They scored 48 points in the paint but gave up 30 in the paint.

They’ll take it, though. The announced crowd, though barely over 2000, was enthusiastic, and it was big enough to ensure that the Hokies will host Maryland in a second round game on Saturday night at 7:00. After that, a possible third-round date with Florida, the top-rated team in the WNIT, looms.

But first, the Hokies must get past Maryland. The Terps bring a 15-14 record and an RPI rating of 101 (compared to Tech’s rating of 64) into Cassell Coliseum for the Saturday matchup. Ticket prices are expected to be $8 for adults, and $4 for under-18 and students with an ID.

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