Lady Lions End Season And WNIT Tournament Run After Falling To Virginia Tech
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa - It was December the last time the Penn State Lady Lions and the Virginia Tech Hokies met. As a nonconference matchup, it was an opportunity for both teams to prepare for the regular season. However, as both teams met again Thursday at the Bryce Jordan Center, the stakes were much higher.
The Lady Lions were hoping to walk away victorious in the third round of the Women’s NIT and go on to play the winner of the Michigan/St. Johns game. However, the Hokies proved they weren’t going to let that come easy.
Virginia Tech emerged dominate in the first half on defense. The Hokies played close man-to-man defense and trapped often, putting the pressure on Penn State and causing frequent turnovers. The Hokies had 13 points off of turnovers in the first half alone.
“I think it took us a minute to adjust to the physicality,” sophomore guard Teniya Page said. “There were some mental barriers and we focused on what we couldn’t do instead of focusing on what we were supposed to do.”
As the second quarter began, the Nittany Lions trailed by seven. Hoping to close the gap, Penn State made a presence down low on defense to limit the Hokies opportunities in the paint. However, the Hokies continued to bring the pressure on defense as the Nittany Lions were forced to take difficult shots that simply wouldn’t fall.
After a steal for a layup by Virginia Tech’s Chanette Hicks on an inbound play, the momentum began to shift even more on offense in the Hokies’ favor. Virginia Tech went 4-5 on field goals towards the end of the second quarter, while the Nittany Lions put their first points of the quarter on the board with only 2:15 left in the first half.
The Hokies outscored the Nittany Lions 17-4 down the stretch heading into halftime.
As the second half began, the Nittany Lions wiped the sleep from their eyes and began to take more opportunities on offense. After Virginia Tech put up the first points of the half on the board, senior forward Kaliyah Mitchell answered back, draining a 3-pointer from the left corner.
The Nittany Lions continued to put up points as the Hokies began to send players to the line. Page made both her free throws with 3:15 left in the third quarter, going 5-5 on free throws and hitting double digits in points.
Entering the half down by 20, the Nittany lions began to close the gap and ended the third quarter down by only 12 points.
As Virginia Tech went 0-4 on shots and hadn’t scored for two and a half minutes, an opportunity presented itself for the Nittany Lions to push and try and close the gap.
With 1:42 left in the game, Penn State trailed by 10.
Teniya Page drained a three-pointer from the left side of the court and lost her balance in the pursuit with a minute left. As the Hokies inbounded the ball leading 63-53, the victory looked like it was going to be theirs to take.
Virginia tech played out the clock with 25 seconds left as the Lady Lions fell 64-55 to the Hokies to bring an end to their postseason and WNIT tournament run.
“As disappointing as this loss is right now, when you look at the totality of our season we accomplished a lot”, Penn State head coach Coquese Washington said. “I’m really proud of how what this team accomplished this year and I think our future is really bright.”
Ellie French is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her, email firstname.lastname@example.org.