MORGANTOWN — The scene was set up almost too perfectly Wednesday: Junior guard Naomi Davenport would go from the lowest of lows to putting her teammates on her shoulders and carrying them off to the championship game of the WNIT.
It was almost perfect.
Instead, Virginia Tech guard Taylor Emery decided to write her own ending, nailing a critical 3-pointer and then defending the one real chance the Mountaineers had to tie the game in leading the Hokies to a 64-61 victory, in front of 3,015 fans inside the WVU Coliseum.
The Hokies (23-13), victims of an 18-point mismatch earlier in the season against the Mountaineers (25-12), held WVU to 31 percent shooting in the first half in taking a 12-point lead, then erased a 60-56 deficit in the final 1:47 to advance.
“We came out flat in the first half,” WVU head coach Mike Carey said. “We had good looks, but just couldn’t make anything.
“The fourth quarter, we were up four and gave up a backdoor lay-up, gave up an offensive rebound and didn’t step up on that 3. That’s how you get beat.”
The 3-pointer came from Emery, Virginia Tech’s leading scorer, who was limited with foul trouble in the first half and then slowly got going in the second. She finished with a game-high 23 points.
Trailing, 61-60, and coming out of a timeout with 29.7 seconds remaining, Emery was able to put all of that behind her.
Virginia Tech head coach Kenny Brooks “put his faith in me and wanted the ball in my hands,” Emery said. “I missed about every 3 leading up to that, but everyone kept telling me, ‘You’ve got this. You’re going to hit the game-winning shot.’
“I came out and relaxed and my teammates set a really good pick. [WVU] went under the screen. I stopped and popped.”
And handed the Hokies a 63-61 lead with 19.5 seconds remaining.
It was only moments earlier that it appeared Davenport would be the conquering hero.
Her story began with five minutes remaining, when she dropped a perfectly good pass that led to Emery scoring on a lay-up on the other end that gave Tech a 54-50 advantage.
“I don’t know why it went through her hands,” Carey said. “I guess she was trying to make a move before she caught it.”
The junior from Cincinnati immediately turned despair into something positive. She connected on two free throws and blocked a shot. She found teammate Teana Muldrow with a nice pass into the paint that Muldrow converted into a basket.
With 1:47 remaining, Davenport scored again, this time on a drive to the basket that the Hokies had no answer for.
It gave WVU a 60-56 lead and all of the momentum.
“I wish I could have turned it on earlier when the game started,” said Davenport, who finished with 14 points, five rebounds and four assists. “We needed some stops. We hit some big shots.”
WVU went to Davenport again, this time after Emery’s big 3-pointer.
Carey isolated Davenport inside on the shorter Emery. Davenport got a good look at the basket, but Emery was also right there with a hand in her face and some pretty good defense.
“The shot just rolled out,” Davenport said. “There’s nothing I can do about that.”
Tech guard Alisha Sheppard was fouled and made
1 of 2 from the line for the final score.
After a timeout, Muldrow took a desperation 3-pointer that never made it to the rim.
Carey wanted a foul on the play. It didn’t happen.
“I got hit, but maybe the officials didn’t catch it,” said Muldrow, who scored 20 points in her final game in a WVU uniform. “It shouldn’t have came down to that. We missed too many of our assignments early on.”
It was WVU’s first-ever loss in the Coliseum in the WNIT; the Mountaineers entered the game 13-0.
It brought an end to the career of Muldrow, who finished with 1,819 points and 969 rebounds. Chania Ray (nine points, nine assists) and Kristina King (seven points, 12 rebounds) also saw their college careers end.
VIRGINIA TECH 64, WEST VIRGINIA 61
VIRGINIA TECH (23-13)
Emery 9-20 2-2 23; Camp 3-10 6-8 14; Magarity 5-11 0-0 11; Sheppard 3-8 1-2 8; Jean lexis 2-4 0-0 6; Berry 1-3 0-0 2; Brooks 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 23-56 9-12 64.
WEST VIRGINIA (25-12)
Muldrow 9-25 0-0 20; Davenport 5-15 4-6 14; Ray 4-9 0-0 9; Pardee 2-8 2-2 7; King 3-5 1-2 7; Jones 2-4 0-0 4; Harden 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 25-67 7-10 61.
Virginia Tech 19 14 15 16—64
WVU 12 13 20 16—61
3-point goals: Virginia Tech 9-21 (Emery 3-7; Camp 2-3; Jean 2-4; Sheppard 1-3; Magarity 1-3; Berry 0-1), WVU 4-19 (Muldrow 2-6; Ray 1-3; Pardee 1-4; Jones 0-2; Davenport 0-4).
Rebounds: Virginia Tech 41 (Magarity 11), WVU 38 (King 12).
Assists: Virginia Tech 9 (Camp 5), WVU 13 (Ray 9).
Total fouls: Virginia Tech 11, WVU 10.
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