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Friday, December 23, 2005

Hokies built the lead back to ten (65-55) on a free throw by Brittany Cook

Hokies hang on to defeat Western Michigan, 69-65
Gardin, Mason lead Tech with 15 points each

December 19, 2005

Virginia Tech 69, Western Michigan 65
Riviera Maya, Mexico -- Virginia Tech held off a furious late Western Michigan rally to edge the Broncos 69-65 on the opening day of the Caribbean Classic. The event is being played in the Soul Ballroom at the Aventura Spa Palace resort.

Tech held a commanding 22-point advantage at 62-40 with 5:48 remaining before Western Michigan put together a 13-0 run in just over two minutes to draw withing striking distance. The Hokies built the lead back to ten (65-55) on a free throw by Brittany Cook (r-Fr., Narrows, Va.) but the stubborn Broncos put together a 10-2 run that crept them to within one possession at 67-65 with 19 seconds left in regulation.

The Hokies worked the ball into the front court and erased 12 seconds off the clock before Carrie Mason (Sr., Seneca, Pa.) was fouled. Mason calmly stepped to the charity stripe and drained two free throws to secure the victory.

Mason, along with Kerri Gardin (Sr., Morgonton, N.C.), led the Hokies with 15 points each followed by Megan Finnerty (Sr., Atlanta, Ga.) who tied a career-high with 12 points. Western Michigan was led by Casey Rost with a game-high 22 points while Carrie Moore added 14.

"I was disappointed in our upperclassmen not stepping up late in the game," said Virginia Tech head coach Beth Dunkenberger. "They did not pick up their endurance to secure the victory. We built the lead with our defense and by attacking the basket on the offensive end. We got away from that late in the game."

Tech again struggled at the free throw line connecting on only 14-of-27, but shot 49.1 percent (26-53) from the field. The Hokies dominated the boards hold a 34-22 advantage. Mason also connected on two treys and now has 152 in her career, just five shy of the Tech career mark held by Sarah Hicks (1997-'02).

The contest appeared to be no contest in the early going as the Hokies jumped out to a commanding 18-5 advantage and led 35-23 at intermission. The second half, at least for the first 15 minutes, was more of the same as the Hokies built the lead to the aforementioned 22-point advantage before the Bronco rally.

The Hokies will face Texas Tech Tuesday at 2 p.m. eastern. The Lady Raiders played Louisville late Monday. Tech defeated Texas Tech 71-70 in overtime last year to win the Duel in the Desert tournament in Las Vegas, Nev.

"Texas Tech is a nationally promient program which just fell out of the Top 25 for the first time in the last 15 years and they have a lot of tradition," said Dunkenberger. "They are learning to play without one of their best players but are getting better with every game which is what we need to do. Get better every day."

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