Virginia Tech established itself as a forceful and diverse offensive threat minutes into a game against women’s basketball Tuesday, opening the matchup on a 13-0 run.
The Colonials’ (2-1) shutdown defense in its first two games couldn’t contain the Hokies (3-0) as they ran away with a 92–57 victory. GW allowed the most points in a regulation game since 1981 when the squad dropped a matchup with Pittsburgh 92–74.
“We’ve certainly not played the level of competition of Virginia Tech,” head coach Jennifer Rizzotti said. “And we talked a lot about how well they shoot the ball at home. We let them get going there in the first half, and then once they see the ball going in, they’re tough to stop.”
Virginia Tech came into the game with a high-powered offense that averaged 80-plus points a game and a starting lineup that averaged at least 13 points per person. Four members of that starting rotation finished in double figures against GW and were led by senior guard Aisha Sheppard, who netted 22 points.
GW entered the matchup holding its first two opponents to a combined .225 clip from the field and a .147 clip from long range. But the Hokies found a rhythm early and the hoop often, ending the game 55.6 percent from the floor and 16-of-31 from behind the arc.
The Colonials struggled to find a consistent flow on the offensive end, shooting 39.3 percent from the field and netting just 2-of-9 three-pointers.
Graduate student guard Jasmine Whitney and freshman center Ali Brigham both netted 13 points a piece, while Brigham ripped three boards and Whitney dished out three assists with zero turnovers.
Whitney, who played at Pittsburgh for three seasons before joining GW, had a history against the Hokies, which included a career average of 13.3 points.
“She understands the level of intensity you need to compete at,” Rizzotti said. “I don’t think the rest of the team was with her tonight, and that’s something she’s going to have to learn from. ‘How are you going to bring people along as a team?’”
After the Hokies jumped out to a 13-0 lead, Whitney struck first for the Colonials. On the next possession, she nabbed a steal that sparked a scoring drive by Brigham. Junior guard Maddie Loder earned the assist, her first of a team-leading four helpers. Another layup from Brigham capped a 6-0 Colonial spurt, cutting the lead down to seven.
In the first quarter, freshman forward Caranda Perea stepped onto the collegiate court for the first time after missing the first two games with an injury. She notched an assist and swished a jumper to net the final points of the quarter and bring the score to 25–13. Perea ended the night with the lone bucket in 15 minutes off the bench.
After a back-and-forth start to the second quarter, Virginia Tech struck first with a fastbreak jumper in the lane. Loder responded with a jumper of her own in the paint and the teams exchanged buckets.
The Hokies opened the floodgates just inside four minutes remaining when Sheppard sunk a triple. Redshirt sophomore forward Mayowa Taiwo, who earned her first start of the season and scored eight points, responded with two points in the paint, but Virginia Tech hit four unanswered shots from deep to boost the lead to 26 points.
The Hokies netted 6-of-8 threes in the frame and sent GW into the locker room with a 49–27 deficit.
Virginia Tech got off to a hot start out of the gate in the second half, scoring six unanswered points – three of which came from sophomore Elizabeth Kitley. The 6-foot-5 center dominated the paint for a double-double, ripping 12 boards and scoring 16 points.
GW’s offense quieted down in the third quarter, scoring just nine points while Virginia Tech netted 27 to run the score up to 76–36.
“We’re still trying to solve the guard scoring,” Rizzotti said. “We thought Jasmine had a good offensive game tonight, but we’re going to have to make some more shots from the perimeter so we can continue to pound it inside.”
In the final frame, GW fought to the end, outscoring Virginia Tech 21–16. Redshirt junior forward Neila Luma had a quiet offensive night, a contrast from the 17 points and 11 rebounds she averaged in her first two games. Luma scored two points on five field goal attempts before fouling out of the contest with almost seven minutes left in the fourth quarter.
A triple from redshirt senior guard Da’ja Green punctuated a deadly three-point shooting performance and win for the Hokies. GW fell 92–57.
“Today was just a little bit of a wake-up call for us to understand how hard we’re going to have to work this season,” Rizzotti said. “I think they see that there’s a lot of talent. They see that there’s some depth there. They see what we’re capable of, but I think they understand now that they’re going to have to compete and prepare a lot harder than they did for this game.”
The squad returns to the Smith Center Sunday to take on Virginia. Tipoff is slated for 2 p.m.