Friday, January 10, 2014

Tough, tough loss for Virginia Tech

Virginia's Ataira Franklin was huge at Virginia Tech Thursday.
Hey, it happens, Hokies.

That 17-point lead Virginia Tech blew, er, lost against archrival Virgina at home in Thursday night's 67-60 loss? Play enough games and that kind of come-from-ahead setback will wind up on anyone's resume. In fact, several other teams right here in Virginia have already felt a similar sting.

The five toughest losses (so far) for the LadySwish 13:

5. UNC Greensboro 73, Norfolk State 66, Nov. 20

- For all of Norfolk State's struggles the past two seasons, the Spartans actually have been a pretty solid team in their own building (16-16 at Echols Arena since the start of 2012-13; 2-20 everywhere else). And they seemed on their way to one of their better homecourt efforts when they seized a 12-point lead and were still up nine with less than eight minutes to go. But then the Spartans went cold, UNCG forward Janae Stevenson headed up and those other Spartans wound up not only winning, but winning going away.

4. Marist 87, Old Dominion 82 OT, Nov. 24

-The Lady Monarchs led 71-70 with 13.4 seconds left in regulation then proceeded to go 1-of-4 from the free-throw line, and the Red Foxes forced the OT with a game-tying shot with 1 second left. Marist started the extra period on an 8-0 run, and it didn't help that ODU went 1-of-6 from the line in OT to finish the game 10-of-22 on freebies. The win would have been coach Karen Barefoot's best in her three years at ODU. The Red Foxes, regulars in the NCAA Tournament, upset Oklahoma a few weeks later.

3. George Mason 66, Longwood 65, Nov. 26

- The Lancers missed the front end of one-and-ones twice in the final 27 seconds with a one-point lead, setting the stage for Sandra Ngoie's game-winning jumper with two seconds left. Making the loss even more painful was the fact that the Lancers led by 16 in the first half and were still up 11 with less than eight minutes left in the second. Longwood came in with a three-game winning streak; this loss triggered an eight-game losing streak. The Patriots, meanwhile, appeared to display a knack for making plays down the stretch. That is, until....

2. Delaware State 90, George Mason 83 (OT), Dec. 4

- The Patriots were up 10 and less than 90 seconds from the finish line. Who knew the Hornets would swish three 3-pointers in a 33-second span, then get a layup with 25 seconds to go to cap an 11-1 run and tie things at 74 at the end of regulation? Credit Mason for shaking that off and going up four inside the first minute of overtime. But then the Patriots committed turnovers on their next six possessions as the Hornets pulled away.

1. Virginia 67, Virginia Tech 60, Jan. 9

- Sorry, Tech. Credit the Cavaliers coaching staff for some canny adjustments, the players for never-say-die resiliency and senior Ataira Franklin (23 points, 19 in the second half, 7 in the final 1:42) for being a flat-out stud down the stretch. But if you're the Hokies and you've lost 14 straight to these guys and you're determined not to fall to 0-2 in the ACC and you're at home and your own stud (Uju Ugoka) is going off and you're up 17 early and double digits after the break but go the final 7:28 without a field goal....well, it doesn't get much tougher than that.

That said, although it was a spectacular loss, that's all it was - one loss. Whether this represents a defining moment in the Hokies season or just one ugly bump in an otherwise successful campaign is entirely up to the players and their collective mindset going forward.

So what's it going to be, Hokies?

Click here for a full recap of Virginia's victory.

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