Virginia Tech defeats Auburn, earns first trip to Sweet 16
Posted: Tuesday March 16, 1999 12:51 AM
BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) -- Auburn tried three different defenses against Virginia Tech on Monday night, and the Hokies had the same answer every time -- the 3-pointer.
Amy Wetzel scored 18 points and Katie O'Connor and Tere Williams added 16 apiece to lead Virginia Tech to a 76-61 victory over Auburn in the second round of the NCAA women's East Regional.
Virginia Tech (28-2) shot 56 percent from the field, including 9-of-14 from 3-point range, to win its 17th straight at home and gain its first entry into the final 16.
The Hokies were particularly hot in the first half, hitting 67 percent overall and 5-6 from 3-point range.
"The rim looked pretty big right then, so I figured I'd just keep shooting," said O'Connor, who was 7-for-9 from the field.
Auburn (20-9) had never lost to a seed lower than second in 14 NCAA tournament appearances.
The Tigers had been successful with a matchup zone, collapsing in the middle on the post players. When that didn't work, they tried two variations.
"We performed poorly defensively in everything we tried to do," Auburn coach Joe Ciampi said.
"We wanted to be the aggressors, challenging and extending their zone," Virginia Tech coach Bonnie Henrickson said.
The game was tied seven times in the first half, but the Hokies stopped Auburn's inside game after switching to a zone defense they had played only a few times all season.
Virginia Tech -- playing before a boisterous crowd of 9,812 -- then went on a 13-2 run in the five minutes before intermission to go ahead 42-31.
"The crowd was so loud, it was deafening," O'Connor said. "I'd never played before anything like that."
The Hokies went up 59-38 on Maria Albertsson's third straight 3-pointer with 13:43 remaining, a point where they had made 65 percent of their shots.
The Tigers, led by Tasha Hamilton with 16 points, were never closer than 12 points the rest of the way.
"Our kids got a little flustered," Ciampi said. "I went to my outside shot and wasn't hitting," said Tiffany Krantz, who made just four of 12 shots, including one of seven 3-pointers. After she missed one badly in the first half, the Hokie fans chanted "air ball" every time she had the ball for the rest of the game.
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