Jacket women escape Clemson in overtime

Eylia Love (left) gets inside against Clemson on Feb. 13. Love led Tech in scoring in the overtime win, and battled with Clemson’s Washington (00). // Photo by Taylor Gray Student Publications

The Tech women’s basketball team finished their four-game road trip at Virginia Tech on Feb. 10, in a game that gave the Jackets a rare two-game losing streak. 

Senior Sarah Bates entered the starting lineup for injured fifth-year Digna Stratumane, who is still day-to-day on when she will return. Bates scored the first bucket for the Jackets on a three, but at no point was it enough for Tech to pull out the road win. 

Bates, along with seniors Lorela Cubaj and Lotta-Maj Lahtinen, played all 40 minutes of gametime. Lahtinen recorded a season high 21 points after going scoreless in the first half. She single-handedly kept the Jackets in the game during the second half, scoring 13 in the third, It included eight quick points to force a Hokies timeout halfway through the third quarter.

Lahtinen, Bates and Cubaj then led a fourth quarter charge to try and take the lead, getting as close to five points from tying with three minutes left after a Bates three. Virginia Tech responded well after that, putting the game away with a couple three pointers of their own,
winning 73-63.

Tech’s first home game in a couple weeks featured the gold uniforms both basketball teams are wearing this month as part of honoring Black excellence at the Institute during Black History Month.

The uniforms may be what changed the tempo for the Jackets, as they played like their normal selves at the start against Clemson. Bates got her second straight start and nailed a three on Tech’s first offensive possession. 

The entire first half was offensively dominated by Tech, led by Bates and Eylia Love. Back and forth the two of them led the team in scoring, and combined for 28 of the 40 first half points. Bates shot 5-11, all of her made shots being three pointers. Love worked the baseline jumper well, scoring 13 in the half.

Things shifted dramatically in the third quarter. It was as if Clemson was shooting at a pool sized basket. In a quarter where Tech still put up 19 points, the Tigers shot 71% from the field, and 85% from three point range. Delicia Washington put up 12 of the points, missing only once on five attempts. Hermosa put up seven straight points that kept Tech in the game at all. By the fourth quarter, Tech was down three 62-59.

The fourth was back and forth the whole way, which included three missed free throws by the Tigers. Those became a difference maker, as Lahtinen was able to hit a layup with four seconds left to give Tech a two point lead, 77-75. Clemson raced immediately back down, and Washington hit another bucket at the buzzer to send the game into overtime.

The extra period was of near no stress for Tech. Lahtinen and Cubaj quickly put up some layups to give Tech a seven point lead. Cubaj doubled her scoring total in overtime, with 11 of her 22 coming in the period. Washington had a three point play to shrink Tech’s lead to four, but a triple possession for Tech afterwards helped drain enough clock for the Jackets to put it away, 92-84.

Of Washington’s performance postgame, Jacket head coach Nell Fortner said “Delicia Washington is a hard player to guard. She’s a pro. She showed every tool in her toolbelt today…we didn’t have an answer for her.” Washington tied the most points scored by any ACC women’s player this season, finishing with 40 in the game.

On the men’s side, things have not gone as well, losing two straight to Miami and Virginia on the road. Senior Michael Devoe led the Jackets in scoring with 20 points against Miami. Freshman Deebo Coleman scored 15 on the bench, including a trio of three pointers. Tech had the lead at the end of the first half, and got the lead to as much as four in the second half before Miami went on an 11-0 scoring run. The Hurricanes would win by nine, completing a season sweep of Tech. 

Devoe again led in scoring in the Jacket’s loss to Virginia, putting up 17 on 6-of-15 shooting. Jayden Gardener scored 26 for the Cavaliers. All of the Virginia bench players registered at least ten minutes of playing time. Tech lost by ten, 63-53, dropping their record to 10-13 and adding their tenth conference loss, dropping the Jackets to the bottom of the ACC standings.