Virginia Tech Holds Off Wake Forest 73-60 in First-Round Action of the ACC Women's Basketball Tournament
March 2, 2006
GREENSBORO - Virginia Tech avenged last year's upset loss to Wake Forest in the opening round of the ACC Women's Tournament as Dawn Chriss scored 18 points and Kirby Copeland added 17 in the 73-60 victory Thursday night.
The seventh-seeded Hokies (20-8), who have won at least 20 games for the eighth time in the last nine seasons, will now play second-seeded Duke in the quarterfinals on Friday after shooting 52.5 percent and outscoring the Demon Deacons 46-24 in the paint.
The Blue Devils blasted the Hokies 93-51 in Durham two weeks ago.
"The way we look at it is it's an advantage for us because we've already played out there for 40 minutes, we've already got some momentum going so we've got to let that carry us on through," Virginia Tech coach Beth Dunkenberger said.
Wake Forest, also playing as a 10th seed in 2005, beat Virginia Tech 61-56 in the Hokies' inaugural ACC tourney appearance.
This time around was a different story though as Virginia Tech closed out the final five minutes to near perfection as the Demon Deacons (12-16) couldn't come up with a big basket or a key defensive stop.
"Down the stretch I thought we were aggressive on offense, but the key for us was defensive rebounding," Dunkenberger said.
Wake Forest trailed by as many as 10 points with 11:32 left before closing within three on two occasions, the last time at 59-56 with 6:02 remaining. However, the Hokies closed the game on a 14-4 run to seal the win.
Chriss, who was 9-for-12 from the field, started the final spurt with a 12-footer and a fastbreak layup that gave the Hokies some breathing room.
The Demon Deacons turned the ball over four times in the final 3:40, while the Hokies had just three turnovers the entire second half.
"The game was on the line and you can't turn the ball over, you've got to get shots," said Wake Forest coach Mike Petersen. "In that stretch of the game, when it was winning time, we just didn't finish the deal."
"We talked about (turnovers) before we headed down here," Dunkenberger said. "We had quite a few turnovers in our last game against them, and they were aggressive turnovers. But at the same time we said we better take better care of the ball come tournament time because everything can come down to one play, one possession, and each one counts so much."
Dunkenberger said she didn't mention last year's upset loss to the team much prior to arriving in Greensboro, but used it as motivation during one second-half timeout.
"It wasn't a main focus for us, but when they made a run we talked about the fact that in order to avoid (an upset) we needed to be more aggressive on the defensive end and then we needed to attack offensively. We needed to be the aggressors, not Wake Forest."
Another major key in the win was the dominating inside play of the Hokies.
"Games are won and lost in the paint," Dunkenberger said. "When it gets to championship tournament time, that's where you want to get the ball for high percentage shots."
Copeland said she wasn't quite ready to head home early this time.
"We came down here last year and coach said we just looked around, we didn't play well," Copeland said. "This time we played hard and we get to stay for a few more days."
Liz Strunk scored 20 points for the second straight tournament game against Virginia Tech, but closed out her Wake Forest career on a losing note.
"It is disappointing because we were in this situation last year and we beat them," Strunk said. "There is not much you can really say."