Va Tech Moves Past West Virginia
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – In a way, it was fitting that, at the end of West Virginia’s run to the semifinals of the WNIT, men’s stars Jevon Carter and Daxter Miles, two men who knew enough post-season heartbreak of their own, were sitting courtside at the Coliseum.
This one was truly heartbreak, a shot here, a pass there, a rebound or two more and it would have been West Virginia instead of Virginia Tech going to the finals to play Indiana for the championship, but it just wouldn’t come as the Hokies took advantage of a few WVU misplays late and scored a 64-61 victory.
The crowd of 3,015 was into it, maybe even more than the Mountaineers were in the first half, in which they trailed 33-25, but West Virginia coach Mike Carey read the riot act and a comeback mounted that saw them finally take the lead.
“Coach got after us at halftime,” Teana Muldrow said in the shadow of her final game, a 20-point performance that was Sagaba Konate-like in that it also included six blocks.
The energy from the locker room discussion and the crowd’s enthusiasm took hold and four minutes into the second half it was tied, and the revitalized Mountaineers would turn this one into a dogfight.
Down by two points at 52-50, Naomi Davenport had a sloppy turnover when a simple pass slipped through her hands and led to a breakaway basket at the other end.
“I guess she was trying to make her move before she caught the ball,” Carey said.
To Davenport’s credit, she could have sulked or fallen apart at that juncture, but instead the junior, who would finish with 14 points and four assists, took over the game.
She hit two free throws. She blocked a shot, had a steal, scored in the paint to tie the game, made a nifty pass to Muldrow for an inside score and then hit a jumper herself.
“I wish I could have got going earlier,” Davenport would say after the game. “Another gear kicked in. We needed some stops, we needed some scores.”
She did it all, but WVU had a minute and 49 seconds to hold a 4-point lead but scored only one more point, yes, on a Davenport free throw.
Virginia Tech gathered itself and put together a winning rally.
“It was an entertaining ball game. Our kids showed a lot of grit and guts,” said Virginia Tech coach Kenny Brooks.
WVU saw it more as letting a few bad things happen that let VT come back and win.
“We gave up a back-door layup, we gave up an offensive rebound and we didn’t step out against the 3,” Carey said.
The 3 was made by Taylor Emery, who was in foul trouble in the first half but scored 18 of her 23 points in the second half.
“I got a good pick. I stopped and popped,” she said after noting that her teammates and coach and teammates had told her during the timeout before the play to “just relax and shoot it.”
To relax, though, isn’t easy at a moment like that.
“You just have to trust the process,” she said.
There was still 22 seconds left and WVU had a chance, getting the ball inside to Davenport, who had the hot hand, but she couldn’t make the shot with five seconds to play.
“It was open,” Carey said. “When you are there, you have to go at the basket and get fouled if you don’t make it, but she stepped back.”
Tech got the rebound, was fouled immediately and made one of two shots, giving WVU one final chance at a 3. They took the ball inbounds, called a quick timeout, had 1.2 seconds left and set up a play for Muldrow to shoot a 3.
She took it and seemed to be slammed into as the ball fell 20 feet short, but there was no call, the WVU bench going ballistic for a moment.
“I got hit,” Muldrow said. “Maybe they did not catch it.”
The official stat sheet did not record the shot, so perhaps it was ruled that it came after the final buzzer, Muldrow saying she didn’t know if she got it off on time. If it was late, the foul would not count.
And so it is WVU finished its season at 25-12 and Davenport admitted, “I wish we could start next year right now.”