Thursday, March 3, 2011

ACC Tournament - Virginia, Virginia Tech eliminated

No. 5 Georgia Tech 81, No. 12 Virginia Tech 58: Click on the link if you want game details. We're going to focus on what an emotional day this must have been for Beth Dunkenberger and the Hokies. Dunkenberger grew up 20 minutes from Tech's campus. At her first press conference after leaving Western Carolina to "return home", Tech's new coach exclaimed, "I'm not leaving, ever." Having landed her dream job, you know Dunkenberger has poured her heart and soul into Hokies hoops ever since. And even her harshest critics stop short of attacking the coach personally; all we've ever heard is how gracious and charming Dunkenberger has been.

Even as this season has spiraled downward, the players could always had a glimmer of hope that they could shock the world and get on a run. Now, even that glimmer is gone. It looked to us as though Dunkenberger and Nikki Davis were close to tears at the extremely brief post-game press conference. And it must have been one gut-wrenching, long - and quiet - ride back to Blacksburg.

Look, the record is the record, and something definitely needs to change to re-energize Tech basketball. Right now, though, we feel empathy for a coaching staff and a group of players that never wanted to see it end like this.

No. 9 Wake Forest 74, No. 8 Virginia 68: Maybe the Cavaliers simply didn't want to play Duke again. Because after playing a solid first half, Virginia got picked apart to the tune of 60-percent second-half shooting by the Deacs. We thought the Cavaliers would win. But after watching it play out, our feeling at game's end was the better team won.

The question now is, will Virginia accept an invitation to the WNIT? Virginia Tech declined to be considered a year ago, and Virginia's arena is already booked as one of the first- and second-round sites of the NCAA Tournament.  We hope the Cavaliers will play on, if only so we can get another glimpse of rising star Ataira Franklin. And who knows? If Virginia can avoid opponents that can exploit its limitations in the low post, the Cavs might even get on a roll the way Miami did last year and advance all the way to the final. Regardless of what Virginia decides, Thursday's loss ensures this will be the second straight year the NCAA has used one of this state's school's gyms without inviting the host. Last year, Old Dominion was in Providence for a WNIT game when the NCAAs unfolded at the Lady Monarchs' Constant Center.

In other games Thursday:

Hampton 60, Howard 54: The Lady Pirates (22-6, 15-1 MEAC) complete the regular season on a 10-game winning streak, 11 if you count the Feb. 11 forfeit over Bethune-Cookman.

North Carolina A&T 91, Norfolk State 63: Extremely uninspired effort by the Spartans, who finish the regular season at 9-18, 2-14 MEAC.

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