March Run Ends for Mids
BLACKSBURG, Va. –– Virginia Tech outscored the Navy women’s basketball team 9-2 in the closing minutes of 75-64 victory by the Hokies (19-13) over the Midshipmen Sunday afternoon at Cassell Coliseum in Blacksburg, Va., in a second round WNIT game.
Navy, which won the first post-season tournament game in program history –– and attained just the second WNIT victory in Patriot League history –– Friday night (61-51 in overtime at George Washington), ended its season with a 24-10 record to tie the school standard for the most victories in a single campaign. The Mids, who were picked sixth in this year’s Patriot League pre-season poll, placed second in the league this year with a 14-4 record, won three games against Army West Point and advanced to the championship game of the league tournament.
“I think it (the last few weeks) summed up the entire season in terms of being competitive and trying to rise to every occasion that is brought our way,” said Sarita Condie (Sr., Lovelock, who scored 482 points this season –– the No. 7 mark in school history –– and 1144 points in her career despite scoring just 105 points as a freshman. “I wasn’t surprised we battled and competed in all of the games. I think it is cool we came together this way at the end of the season because that’s what we have been working for.”
“Just so incredibly proud of our team,” said Navy head coach Stefanie Pemper. “They fought to the end, and I knew they would. We understood the magnitude and everything about this game. Just a really tough loss, but our kids battled to the end.”
The Hokies entered the game averaging 6.9 three-point field goals a game on the year, but made nine triples on 15 attempts (60%) in the first half to take leads of 9-2, 20-10 and 39-24 and before entering halftime with a 42-28 advantage.
Virginia Tech would score the opening basket of the third quarter to take a 16-point lead. Navy cut the margin down to single digits at 49-41 only to see it soon increase back to 14 at 55-41. A halfcourt shot by Condie as the third quarter ended pulled the Mids to within seven points at 59-52.
Navy winnowed the margin down to four points at 61-57 on another Condie basket with 7:03 left to play, then the Mids regained possession of the ball on a Virginia Tech missed shot. Navy gave the ball back on a missed shot of its own, with Virginia Tech scoring on its ensuing trip down the floor.
Condie pulled the Mids back to within four points (63-59) on a pair of free throws with 5:01 showing on the clock, but the margin went back to seven points 15 seconds later on a three-point field goal by Sidney Cook. Neither team scored again until Hannah Fenske (Jr., Albuquerque, N.M.) drained a triple of her own to make the score 66-62 with 3:44 still to play.
Just like the previous time the Mids cut the deficit to four points, the Hokies again responded quickly. Cook scored on a short jumper to make it a six-point game, then a Navy turnover led to a three-point basket by Regan Magarity that made the score 71-62 with just under three minutes still to play.
“Virginia Tech obviously respected us and came to play,” said Pemer. “We needed them to be a little less focused and have a few more of our three-point shots fall.”
The Hokies connected on 48.9 percent of its field goal attempts, including 12-22 (54.5%) three-point shots. Virginia Tech also made 17-20 foul shots.
“Their three-point shooting is so unpredictable,” said Pemper. “It is just incredibly unlucky they shot as well as they did. They obviously have different pieces, but that was too bad for us. Even their free throw percentage (85%) was higher than they normally shoot.”
Navy shot 40 percent from the floor and was 8-23 (34.8%) from three-point land. The Mids also were 8-9 from the charity stripe.
The rebounds between the teams were almost identical –– 29-28 in favor of Virginia Tech –– with Navy winning the turnover margin –– 22-17 –– that featured the Mids recording 12 steals and the Hokies just seven.
Condie closed her career with a 26-point effort, which tied her career high that she set nine days ago in leading the Mids past Army West Point in the semifinal round of the Patriot League Tournament. She was 3-7 from three-point land, 9-15 from the field in all and made all five of her foul shots. Condie also added a Navy-best eight rebounds.
Ashanti Kennedy (Sr., Virginia Beach, Va.) and Justice Swett (Sr., Nashville, Tenn.) also capped their respective careers with strong efforts. Kennedy tallied nine points and four rebounds while Swett tied her career high with six steals and grabbed four caroms.
“Going into this year we wanted to leave a legacy of a program that does things the right way,” said Condie of Navy’s Class of 2017. “Work hard and overcome adversity, and I think that’s exactly what we did and then some. I think we shocked a lot of people, but we always had a lot of confidence we could go far if we stuck together. I am really happy I was a part of this team, especially with my two classmates, that we came all of the way to the second round of the WNIT.”
“They (the seniors) are not happy with this,” said Pemper. “This is the fourth high major team we played this year and we were right there with all of them. It is definitely a reflection of their spirit and their attitude.
“What can you say about Sarita? The other team had to know she is our leading scorer and a big-time player who steps up and yet she goes for 26 points. Just incredible. Ashanti was a spark tonight and Justice, her defense was a spark; six steals. Obviously have a lot of respect for this class, and we are going to miss them tremendously.”
Four additional Mids scored at least five points.
Cook totaled 15 points and 12 rebounds while teammate Chanette Hicks scored 18 points, dished out seven assists and recorded five steals.
Virginia Tech advances to the Sweet 16 of the WNIT where it will play Penn State in the third round of the event.