Hawks hang tough in first half, but fall to Hokies
With just over four minutes to go in the first half at Virginia Tech Wednesday night, the University of Maryland Eastern Shore had used a smothering defense and efficient offensive game plan to manage a 23-23 tie against the Hokies.
But Virginia Tech would trade blows with Eastern Shore and then end the half on a 7-0 run, going into the break up 32-25 and never surrendered the lead again.
After a hot start to the third quarter the Hokies led by 12 and went on to a 90-52 win.
“I thought it was a great start for us,” Hawks coach Fred Batchelor said. “I thought we gave a lot of effort. I thought we executed and played really well. I thought we played about 16 minutes of really good basketball and that last four minutes of the first half we came out and took about 4-5 ill-advised shots and it opened up a whole dam of bad experiences.”
Early on, the Hawks used a strong defensive effort to take advantage of early foul trouble by Hokies point guard Chanette Hicks. But by the second half she was driving the bus finishing with eight assists in 17 minutes of play.
“I thought we did a pretty good job with the game plan,” Batchelor said. “We wanted to switch on their screens. They run some action that I thought we needed to defend well and I thought we did early on. We took away what they wanted to do and we communicated.”
The other thing that helped was that the Hawks weren’t playing transition defense against a longer, more athletic Virignia Tech squad. That was because The Shore was hitting shots making 47 percent in the first quarter before being held to six points on 3-of-25 hooting in the second quarter.
The Shore forced 21 turnovers and responded on the glass with 40 rebounds including eight from the guards.
“I thought we understood the importance,” Batchelor said. “We have thrown out the challenge on two occasions against ACC opponents and I think we have stepped up. Have 20 offensive rebounds was big. The reason they outrebounded us all together (45-40) was because we shot 29 percent from the field.”
The Hokies pulled down 32 defensive rebounds off Hawks misses.
“We had 32 points in the paint to their 18,” Batchelor said. “We shot way too many 3s, but we shot one free throw in 30 plus minutes of basketball. At some point that comes back to hurt you. I’m trying not to make that an issue, because at that point we weren’t playing well enough to complain about anything.
“But, when you go into the half and you didn’t take a free throw in 20 minutes and then you come out in the second half and don’t get one of those calls it breaks you down a little bit and I thought mentally we broke.”
It also didn’t help that the Hokies hit 7-of-10 from 3-point range in the third quarter and went on to score 39 points — the most in any quarter in program history.
“I hope we learned a level of what it takes — when things don’t go your way — mentally to be able to survive,” Batchelor said. “We didn’t do that tonight, so I’m hoping we learn that.”
Martha Thompson (Bedford Heights, Ohio) led Eastern Shore in scoring with 12 points, but took 19 shots to get them. Bairesha Gill-Miles (Lexington, Kentucky) started for the first time this season, but foul trouble limited her to 10 points and eight rebounds in 18 minutes. Alexus Hicks (Raleigh, North Carolina) scored all eight of her points in the first half and Dominique Walker (Bel Air, Maryland) pitched in seven points and six rebounds in 17 minutes off the bench.
Keyera Eaton (Winston-Salem, North Carolina) saw her first action of the season after returning from injury, playing 26 minutes off the bench, grabbing three rebounds and two steals and failed to score.
The Hawks will next travel to Winston-Salem to take on Wake Forest on Saturday (Dec. 9) at 5 p.m.
For more information on Eastern Shore Athletics visit http://www.easternshorehawks.com/.
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