BLACKSBURG, Va. — Kenny Brooks has won nearly 63% of his games since becoming the Virginia Tech women’s basketball coach in 2016.
But no victory was sweeter than the one he received Thursday.
Aisha Sheppard scored 18 of her 28 points in overtime to help Virginia Tech upset No. 2 NC State 83-71.
Sheppard hit two of her four 3-pointers in the extra session, and the Hokies (8-7, 3-7 Atlantic Coast Conference) pulled away to beat a Top 5 opponent for the first time since knocking off No. 5 Old Dominion in 1985. Virginia Tech had never beaten an opponent ranked higher than No. 5 in the Associated Press poll.
“You like the sundae, but sometimes the cherry on top is really good, too,” Brooks said. “You don’t know which one is the best. We needed the win. The fact that it was the No. 2-ranked team in the country was the cherry on top.
“Where we were and just the way the season has gone for us, I didn’t care if we were playing the Globetrotters. We needed the win … It feels really good to just be gritty, gutsy, and come through with a big win.”
Camille Hobby led N.C. State (11-1, 6-1) with a career-high 19 points. Hobby’s 3-pointer at the end of regulation tied the game at 57 and sent it to overtime.
The Hokies could have been rattled in that moment after a season in which all seven of their losses have been by 10 points or less. But Brooks had talked with Sheppard earlier in the week about being a better “closer,” and Sheppard delivered.
In overtime, she started the scoring with a 3-pointer, and the Hokies never trailed again. She made 12 of 14 free throws in the extra period.
“I just trusted the work that’s been in and understanding that my coaches trust me to be able to make those decisions,” Sheppard said. “They know I’ve put the work in and that the shots are going to fall. I knew that going in. I was frustrated – don’t get me wrong. But my teammates and my coaches look to me to take those shots, and I’ve just got to make them. I did tonight. That was the difference.”
Elizabeth Kitley added 17 points and 11 rebounds, and Azana Baines had 16 points for Virginia Tech. The Hokies snapped a three-game losing streak.
Playing without All-American Elissa Cunane because of COVID-19 protocols, the Wolfpack had a 16-game winning streak end.
“The whole game, they played great defense, and we just didn’t get it done.” NC State coach Wes Moore said. “I’ve got to figure out a way to help our players maybe get better looks and stress a little bit more about how important rebounding and having urgency is.”