BLACKSBURG — The home court rim at Cassell Coliseum didn’t do Virginia Tech any favors on Sunday.
Tech lost 67-64 to a Wake Forest team that was previously winless on the road thanks to an extended scoreless streak late in the game.
After Hokies forward Elizabeth Kitley tied the game 62-62 with 4:26 to go, they didn’t score again until Kitley put in a layup with just a second remaining.
“Right now we aren’t good enough to finish games like this,” Virginia Tech coach Kenny Brooks said. “We build leads and we don’t finish. We don’t play the way we are supposed to be. We are lacking that leadership, somebody that’s really going to carry us through when things are tough.”
Tech led for much of the game — the Demon Deacons’ first lead didn’t come until the final two minutes of the third quarter — but squandered multiple opportunities in the final minute to jump back out front.
“We even called a timeout and designed a play and had the opportunity, the look we wanted, and didn’t execute it right,” Brooks said. “We wanted to get the ball inside to Elizabeth and we jack up a 3-point shot. … In the moment we are just not executing like we need to do.”
Wake committed multiple offensive fouls while clinging to a four-point lead, but the Hokies came up empty on three separate possessions and missed five straight shots with Kitley missing three straight attempts from right near the basket.
“It was frustrating in the moment, but honestly I felt they were good looks. I just need to make them,” Kitley said. “I take responsibility for that. We’ll just keep working on it. They’ll fall eventually because I know I can make it.”
Kitley led the Hokies with 18 points and had a career-high 21 rebounds, which also tied a school record that was most recently reached by Kerri Gardin in 2005.
Tech’s leading scorer Aisha Sheppard struggled while shooting 5 of 15 from the field (2 of 10 from 3-point range) and finishing with 14 points. She did lead the team with five assists.
Sophomore guard Makayla Ennis played a key role off the bench with a career-high 12 points. She hit back-to-back baskets, including a 3-pointer that tied the game 60-60 with 5:36 to go.
The sophomore came into the game averaging 1.5 points per game and had played a combined 24 minutes in Tech’s previous four games. She played a season-high 29 minutes on Sunday night before fouling out in the final seconds.
“I felt a lot of trust from Coach Brooks today,” Ennis said. “If anything, it was an indication I can do what he knows I can do, and I feel more capable because he puts so much trust and confidence in me.
“I hate that we lost. I hate losing, but I’m happy that coach can see me as that player right now.”
Things started to fall apart for Tech when forward Asiah Jones was called for a technical foul early in the third quarter. Jones said something to the official after getting called for a shooting foul on Christina Morra under the basket. Wake Forest knocked down three of the four free-throw attempts — two for the shooting foul and one of two for the technical — to cut Tech’s lead to 47-43 and got the ball back.
It was part of a 10-0 run for Wake that helped it tie the game.
“You can’t do that especially when the only people in the stands are cardboard cutouts,” Brooks said of Jones’ technical. “You can hear everything. It’s just not smart, and it’s a situation that hurt us. I don’t think we really got our energy back from that point on.”
Wake Forest even survived having to play much of the second half without leading scorer Gina Conti. She scored six of her team’s first 13 points in the third quarter, but picked up her fourth foul during that 10-0 run. She went to the bench with a game-high 17 points at the time and didn’t check back in until there was 4:25 left in the game.
The Demon Deacons also did a much better job in the second half of slowing Kitley down after she opened the game by scoring eight of her team’s first 10 points. Kitley locked up a double-double by halftime and led all scorers with 12 points with her team leading 40-33.
“We’re lacking one,” Brooks said. “What I mean by that … they are selling out and doubling Liz and leaving one person open. That person needs to be able to step up and execute the play, or to make them pay for doubling her. It’s not a surprise, we see it more and more.”
Wake Forest 67,
Virginia Tech 64
WAKE FOREST (7-4)
Morra 7-12 3-4 17, Raca 6-18 4-4 17, Conti 5-9 6-8 18, Scruggs 2-5 0-0 4, Spear 3-8 2-3 8, Summiel 1-3 0-2 2, Harrison 0-3 1-2 1, Hoard 0-1 0-0 0, Brown 0-0 0-0 0, Team 0-0 0-0 0, Totals 24-59 16-23 67
VIRGINIA TECH (7-5)
Jones 3-7 0-0 6, Kitley 9-18 0-2 18, Amoore 2-9 1-2 5, King 2-6 3-3 9, Sheppard 5-15 2-2 14, Obouh Fegue 0-0 0-0 0, Baines 0-2 0-0 0, Ennis 5-10 0-0 12, Green 0-1 0-0 0, Team 0-0 0-0 0, Totals 26-68 6-9 64
Wake Forest 18 15 20 14 — 67
Virginia Tech 21 19 10 14 — 64
3-Point Goals—Wake Forest 3-15 (Raca 1-4, Conti 2-4, Scruggs 0-2, Spear 0-4, Summiel 0-1), Virginia Tech 6-23 (Amoore 0-4, King 2-6, Sheppard 2-10, Ennis 2-2, Green 0-1). Assists—Wake Forest 7 (Conti 3), Virginia Tech 18 (Amoore 6). Fouled Out_Virginia Tech Ennis. Rebounds—Wake Forest 42 (Raca 4-19), Virginia Tech 40 (Kitley 6-21). Total Fouls—Wake Forest 17, Virginia Tech 21. Technical Fouls—Virginia Tech Jones 1. A—250.