The MSU women’s basketball team continued its recent struggles with a third-straight loss Saturday afternoon losing, 72-66, at Virginia Tech.
Despite hitting two 3-pointers in the final minute of the game, the Spartans (5-4 overall) couldn’t get the comeback victory.
MSU started three freshmen in the lineup because of junior guard Kiana Johnson missing her second straight game with an infection.
MSU also didn’t start junior forward Becca Mills for the first time all season because of her struggling as of late. But Mills answered back with 19 points and 10 rebounds in the game.
“We battled back and Becca Mills was great today, but honestly it took putting her on the bench to motivate her,” MSU assistant coach Mark Simons said in MSU’s postgame radio show.
MSU got off to a slow start scoring just two field goals in the first seven minutes of the game, and were down 17-4.
However, led by 10 points by Mills, the Spartans fought back and took the lead, 23-22, thanks to freshman guard Tori Jankoska’s only 3-pointer of the day.
The Hokies (7-2) wouldn’t trail for long, as Virginia Tech’s freshman guard Vanessa Panousis knocked down three 3-pointers in the final three minutes of the game to help Virginia Tech to a 38-31 halftime lead.
In the second half, the Spartans would get within three points of the Hokies, but Virginia Tech answered again and secured a 12-point lead capped by a 3-pointer by forward Hannah Young.
MSU immediately called a timeout with less than 10 minutes left and made adjustments. Over the course of the next three minutes, MSU went on a 12-0 run, which featured 3-pointers by redshirt freshman guard Branndais Agee and senior forward Annalise Pickrel.
Agee, Mills and redshirt freshman guard Aerial Powers also added a layup.
Powers and Jankoska both would foul out in the final minutes of the game
Virginia Tech would call two quick timeouts and would go on to secure the win despite 3-pointers by senior guard Klarissa Bell and sophomore guard Cara Miller with 52 and 21 seconds left in the game.
“The problem was you can’t come out and get down on the road down 12 to start the game,” Simons said. “We battled back and really, really disappointed by our effort and our preparation.”
The Spartans shot just 39.7 percent (25-63) from the field on Saturday, which included 25.9 percent (7-27) from beyond the arc. They also turned the ball over 14 times.
Agee joined Mills as the only Spartans to reach double-figures in points with 11. She also had five rebounds.
Virginia Tech had four players reach at least 10 points.
Forward Uju Ugoka had 19 points and 10 rebounds, Panousis had 15 points, Young contributed 14 points along with guard Monet Tellier.
Junior center Jasmine Hines played in her second game since returning from injury, but only played two minutes and recorded one shot attempt.
She has been out since September after sustaining a concussion in practice and has experienced post-concussion symptoms.
MSU will take a week off for finals, and will square off against Oakland at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 15 at Breslin Center.
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