BLACKSBURG — It was not a happy homecoming for Maryah Sydnor.
After a dreadful opener last week, the Virginia Tech women’s basketball team bounced back with a 71-68 win over Appalachian State on Wednesday at Cassell Coliseum.
Alyssa Fenyn and Porschia Hadley made key baskets in the final minute for the Hokies, who overcame a Cassell-record 36 points by ASU’s Anna Freeman.
Appalachian State (1-1) scheduled the visit because of Sydnor, a sophomore forward who was a two-time Timesland player of the year at Radford High School.
Sydnor, who was the Southern Conference freshman of the year last season, said “everybody” in Radford showed up at Cassell for the game.
She started for ASU as usual but had only two points and no rebounds. She was 1-of-3 from the field in 23 minutes. She played only eight minutes in the second half.
“I really just wasn’t aggressive like I should’ve been — offensively, defensively,” said Sydnor, who averaged 10.1 points and 5.1 rebounds last season. “I didn’t really show up at all. … I wasn’t there tonight.
“I was pumped, ready to be home. … Unfortunately, I didn’t show.”
Sydnor was the Group A player of the year as a senior, when she led Radford to a state title.
“You would think that she thrives on the big moments. This kind of stinks,” said ASU coach Darcie Vincent, whose team made the 2012 WNIT after winning the SoCon regular-season title. “My heart breaks for her to be here today and not play at the level I know Mo wanted to play. … I know that she’ll regret this moment every day.
“Maryah’s got to get more aggressive.”
The Mountaineers had dinner Tuesday at the home of Sydnor’s family. Radford Mayor Bruce Brown gave Vincent the key to the city at that dinner.
Freeman made the biggest impression Wednesday, scoring the most points ever by a women’s basketball player at Cassell.
She eclipsed the old single-game mark of 34, which was shared by Tech’s Renee Dennis (in a 1987 game against Memphis State), Virginia’s Heather Burge (1992), Florida State’s Bev Burnett (1988) and Roanoke College’s Susan Highfill (1977).
Freeman tied a Cassell mark with six 3-pointers. She was 10-of-18 from the field, including 6-of-11 from 3-point range, and made all 10 of her free throws.
Fenyn, who had 13 points, sank a 3-pointer to give Tech (1-1) a 68-66 lead with 58 seconds left.
After Kelsey Sharkey scored for the Mountaineers, Hadley sank a jumper to give the Hokies a 70-68 lead with 19.2 seconds left.
“I just shot the open shot and it went in,” said Hadley, who had 10 points. “I wanted to take it.”
ASU’s Raven Gary missed an uncontested layup with seven seconds to go.
Tech’s Monet Tellier (12 points) made one of two free throws with 2.8 seconds left.
The Hokies shot just 25 percent from the field in a 55-35 home loss to Old Dominion last Friday.
On Wednesday, they shot 47.5 percent, including 53.3 percent in the second half. After going 0-of-12 from 3-point range against ODU, the Hokies were 9-of-17 from 3-point territory Wednesday.
“We all were ready to shoot. That was a big key we worked on in practice, being down and ready to shoot and not forcing shots,” Fenyn said. “We practiced really hard. We knew we had to come out with a lot more energy and just play together more as a team.”
“We tweaked a few things offensively to try to put some of the kids in better positions,” coach Dennis Wolff said.
Freshman forward Taijah Campbell had 11 points and eight rebounds in her second Tech game.
“I just had to put my nerves aside,” she said. “I was a lot less nervous” than on Friday.
Wolff started freshman Lauren Evans instead of senior point guard Aerial Wilson, who had nine points off the bench. Wolff said Tech needed a change on defense.
Tech again held out Uju Ugoka for violating an NCAA amateurism rule while in junior college. Tech has turned in the results of its investigation to the NCAA is awaiting word on how many games the NCAA might suspend her for.