BLACKSBURG — The Virginia Tech women’s basketball team could be in for another long season in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Because for the third straight year, the Hokies could not beat Florida Gulf Coast of the Atlantic Sun Conference.
The Eagles took the lead for good in the first few minutes and defeated the Hokies 63-56 at Cassell Coliseum on Sunday.
“This is a team that we thought we could beat,” Tech coach Dennis Wolff said.
Florida Gulf Coast (5-4) returns just two starters from a team that swept the Atlantic Sun regular-season and tournament titles and advanced to the NCAA tournament last season.
The Eagles were coming off a 67-46 loss at South Florida. They had also lost to Charlotte, DePaul and South Carolina this season.
Florida Gulf Coast jumped to a 14-1 lead. The Eagles shot 56.5 percent from the field in the first half, when they drove to the basket for open layups, and led 35-24 at halftime.
“I’m very disappointed in the way we started the game defensively,” Wolff said. “They have five guards [in the lineup], so they play differently than anybody else you’re going to play. … We were hoping that we were going to be more disciplined defensively to begin the game.”
The Hokies (4-5), on a three-game skid, shot just 39.3 percent from the field.
Monet Tellier had two points, 11 below her average. She was 0 of 8 from the field.
“She almost tries too hard,” Wolff said. “You have to relax.”
Tech went on a 10-1 run to cut the lead to 52-50 with 3:50 left. But Alyssa Fenyn missed two free throws that would have tied the score with 2:56 left.
After FGC’s Betsy Adams (19 points) sank a 3-pointer, Brittany Kennedy stole the ball from Tech’s Larryqua Hall. Jaime Gluesing made a 3-pointer for a 58-50 cushion.
Tech freshman Taijah Campbell, who had missed two of the previous three games with concussion symptoms, scored 14 points.
“I wasn’t too worried about making mistakes; I just played,” she said.
Forward Porschia Hadley did not start and barely played. Wolff said it was for matchup reasons.
The Hokies, ranked 322nd out of 343 Division I teams in scoring offense, will soon gain reinforcements.
Uju Ugoka, a two-time junior-college All-American, will make her Tech debut Saturday. The NCAA ruled Ugoka ineligible for the first nine games of the season for receiving an impermissible benefit while playing for a Florida junior college last season.
Freshman Hannah Young should also make her debut Saturday. She did not enroll at Tech for the fall semester because the NCAA did not declare her academically eligible in August. Young took two community-college classes this fall and retook the SAT, so Tech expects the NCAA to declare her eligible this week.