Virginia Tech women claim No. 10 seed with win over Wake Forest

BLACKSBURG — The Virginia Tech women’s basketball team beat Wake Forest in its regular-season finale Sunday, but that won’t be the squads’ final meeting of the week.

The Hokies claimed the No. 10 seed in the ACC tournament by beating the Demon Deacons 69-57 at Cassell Coliseum.

Virginia Tech will face No. 15 seed Wake Forest again in the first round of the tournament at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Greensboro Coliseum.

"Both teams probably were trying to keep it a little vanilla because we play each other again in a couple days," Tech coach Kenny Brooks said. "Good old ACC, you don’t see them all year long and then all of a sudden you’ve got to play them twice in a four-day span."

The Hokies (19-10, 6-10) hope to have an easier time in Wednesday’s rematch. The last-place Demon Deacons (10-19, 1-15) led 32-31 at halftime, but the Hokies scored the first 10 points of the third quarter and led the rest of the way.

"[It’s a matter of] having the energy we played with the second half, having that from [the] get-go," said Tech guard Aisha Sheppard, who had 12 points and three 3-pointers. "We’re just going to have to play with better tempo, better everything from the start to finish."

Tech, which led by just four points early in the fourth quarter, won for the sixth time in its last nine games.

"It’s a great game for both of us to figure each other out and make some tweaks and come back and toss it back up again," said Wake coach Jen Hoover, a William Byrd graduate.

Sunday’s win made for a successful Senior Day for Regan Magarity, Taylor Emery, Rachel Camp, Alexis Jean and Erinn Brooks. They were honored in a pregame ceremony.

"For all the seniors, it’s a special day," Magarity said. "And then being able to get a win definitely topped it off."

Magarity, who was 6 of 7 from the field, had 17 points and 15 rebounds.

"She’s one of the best players in the league," Hoover said. "Our goal coming in was to limit her and Emery, and we didn’t do that."

Emery had 20 points and three 3-pointers. She scored nine points in the first quarter before getting into foul trouble. She tallied 10 points in the fourth quarter.

Virginia Tech tied Duke for 10th place in the standings but earned the No. 10 seed because it won the lone meeting between the teams.

If the Hokies beat Wake on Wednesday, they will face seventh-seeded Clemson (18-11, 9-7) in the second round at 6 p.m. Thursday. Tech lost 73-66 at Clemson on Feb. 24 despite leading 33-24 at halftime and 51-49 entering the fourth.

"We played very well at Clemson for a long stretch," Brooks said. "We really didn’t start losing the lead until Regan got her third foul. … She fouled out with [less than] five minutes to go in the game, and so we just weren’t able to hold on.

"So we like our chances. … They’re a pressure team, and now that we’ve seen it, we’ve felt it and we’ve encountered it live, I think it’s a good plus for us."

If Tech beats Wake and Clemson, it will meet second-seeded and third-ranked Louisville (27-2, 14-2) in Friday’s quarterfinals. Louisville tied Notre Dame for the regular-season title but wound up with the No. 2 seed because it lost at Notre Dame last month. Louisville beat the Hokies 72-63 on Feb. 10.

On Sunday, Wake trailed just 47-43 early in the fourth quarter. But the Hokies went on a 13-4 run to build a 60-47 cushion with 4:07 left.

The Hokies were 6 of 6 from 3-point range in the fourth quarter. They finished the game with 10 3-pointers after making only three in the first half.

"We were just building some confidence," Emery said. "Early on we were missing, so we were just trying to build that confidence back to be able to hit shots when it counts."

The injury-plagued Demon Deacons, who lost their ninth straight game, shot 18.8 percent from the field in the third quarter and 35.0 percent in the fourth quarter.

"We’re down to seven and a half healthy players. Our kids get exhausted," Hoover said. "It’s been like that for about a month now."

"We did a much better job in the second half of keeping them out of the lane," Brooks said.

Alex Sharp had 18 points and 10 rebounds for the Demon Deacons.

"They’re probably one of the bigger basketball teams that we’ve played this year, so their length bothered us," Brooks said. "We need to rebound the ball better [on Wednesday]."

Dara Mabrey had 11 points for Tech.

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