Virginia Tech 57, No. 20 Va. 56
BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) _ Virginia coach Debbie Ryan had warned her players about the talent and speed of Virginia Tech’s Amy Wetzel.
They witnessed firsthand just what Wetzel could do on Thursday night.
The senior guard scored 17 points, including an 8-foot runner with four seconds remaining, to lead Virginia Tech to a 57-56 victory over No. 2 Cavaliers.
``She’s the heart and soul of their team,″ Ryan said of Wetzel. ``She’s a blue-collar player and she gets more out of what she has than just about anyone I’ve ever seen.″
Wetzel’s shot capped a big comeback by Virginia Tech (4-1), which trailed by as many as 17. The Cavaliers (4-3) also led 27-19 at halftime.
``It was a penetration play and if the defense sagged, then she was supposed to kick it out for a jump shot,″ Hicks said. ``But we pretty much knew Amy was going to take it. That’s a senior for you.″
The shot confirmed what Wetzel was feeling in the second half.
``That was pretty big and I just thank God it went in,″ Wetzel said. ``When the momentum shifted, I just knew we were going to win because we had the crowd behind us. They were our sixth man.″
The loss was the second straight for Virginia, which lost 72-59 to No. 8 Louisiana Tech in the semifinals of the Preseason WNIT on Nov. 19.
``I knew they would go to her,″ Ryan said of Wetzel’s last-second play. ``I told them (her team) that.″
Virginia Tech coach Bonnie Henrickson said the Hokies defense in the waning seconds sealed the victory.
``I just told them to get pressure on the ball, switch on every screen and call every screen,″ she said.
Tere Williams added 13 points and nine rebounds for the Hokies, and Sarah Hicks had 12 points.
Svetlana Volnaya led the Cavaliers with 15 points, and Dean’na Mitchelson had 14 before picking up her fourth foul and sitting out much of the second half.
The Hokies double-teamed Schuye Larue, holding her to a career-low four points. Larue had averaged 15.3 points for the Cavaliers.
``We needed her to play with a little more poise at times,″ Ryan said.
The Hokies used a 13-4 run, capped by Wetzel’s three-point play, to get within 49-46 with 7:19 left. Virginia answered with baskets by Marcie Dickson and Volnaya, but Hicks’ consecutive 3s tied it at 54.
``I have to give Virginia Tech a lot of credit. They did a good job taking advantage of a lot of opportunities,″ Ryan said. ``We kept control until the last play.″
Telisha Quarles’ basket with a little more than a minute left on the clock gave Virginia a 56-54 lead. Williams then had a chance to tie it at the free-throw line, but missed her first shot, setting up Wetzel’s game-winner.
Virginia used an early 16-2 run and tough defense to open a big lead. The Cavaliers turned 13 turnovers into 15 points in the half.