Sunday, December 23, 2012

Ugoka gives Hokies a big lift

The transfer scores 28 points in her first game to help Tech end a 15-game ACC home losing streak.

Virginia Tech forward Uju Ugoka (14) shoots over a Wake Forest defender in the Hokies’ 73-52 win over the Deacons on Saturday.

Dave Knachel | Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech forward Uju Ugoka (14) shoots over a Wake Forest defender in the Hokies’ 73-52 win over the Deacons on Saturday.

Virginia Tech Hokies basketball

Berman Courtside

BLACKSBURG - It took Monet Tellier until her third season at Virginia Tech to finally win an ACC home game.

It took Uju Ugoka only one game to accomplish the same thing.

Ugoka scored 28 points in her Tech debut to help the Hokies cruise past Wake Forest 73-52 at Cassell Coliseum on Saturday.

"I was just so excited," Ugoka said.

Tellier tallied 23 points for the Hokies (5-5, 1-0), who snapped a 15-game ACC home losing streak. It was the Hokies' first ACC home win since the 2009-10 season.

"I just mentioned that to the team," Tellier, a junior guard, said with a grin. "There should be more to come."

A jubilant Ugoka, whose 28 points were the most a Tech women's player has ever scored in an ACC home game, clapped her hands as she walked off the court. The two-time junior-college All-American was 13-of-18 from the field - one bucket shy of tying the Cassell single-game record for the most baskets by a Tech women's player. She also had eight rebounds.

Ugoka had been ordered by the NCAA to sit out the first nine games of this season for committing an NCAA violation while playing for a Florida junior college last season.

"I've been waiting for this day," Ugoka said. "I was so nervous."

According to Tech, the host family of one of Ugoka's former teammates bought her a round-trip plane ticket home to Nigeria last season - but Ugoka never fully repaid the sum. Coach Dennis Wolff said he informed the Tech compliance office after the host family emailed him in October.

The 6-foot-1 Ugoka, who had practiced with the Hokies all season, started Saturday. She and Tellier each scored four points to give Tech an 8-0 lead that it never relinquished.

Tellier had 17 points and Ugoka had 10 to give Tech a 27-9 cushion. The Hokies led 35-20 at halftime.

"There was one time where I screened for her and actually heard the other [Wake] girls arguing with each other, saying 'I can't help off of Monet because Uju's open' and 'I can't help off of Uju because Monet's going to be open,' so it caused a lot of havoc for them," Tellier said of Ugoka's impact.

Tech opened the second half on a 10-2 run, with Ugoka supplying eight of those points, to extend its lead to 45-24.

"She's extremely quick and athletic and she can jump over you," Wake first-year coach Jen Hoover, a William Byrd graduate, said of Ugoka.

The Hokies entered the game ranked last in the ACC in both scoring offense (50.3 ppg) and field-goal percentage (37.1 percent).

But they shot 52.7 percent from the field Saturday, their best percentage since a February 2010 win over Clemson.

"We haven't run a lot of plays to throw the ball into the post since I've been the coach here, so this is a new thing for us," Wolff said of Ugoka's impact.

Tellier was 0-of-8 from the field in the Hokies' loss to Florida Gulf Coast last weekend, but she was 9-of-15 from the field Saturday.

"This game, I got more mentally prepared," said Tellier, who also had eight rebounds.

Wake Forest (5-6, 0-1) had beaten Tech six straight times. But the Demon Deacons - who had been idle since Dec. 8 - shot just 37 percent from the field, were only 8-of-21 from the free-throw line and were outrebounded 38-26.

Saturday also marked the Tech debut of freshman Hannah Young, who had no points in 10 minutes. She took part in her first Tech practice Friday. The Australian did not enroll at Tech for the fall semester because the NCAA did not declare her academically eligible in August. She took two community-college courses this fall and took the SAT again. The NCAA declared her eligible earlier in the week.

Wake freshman Kandice "Daisy" Ball (Pulaski County/Oak Hill Academy) and a teammate served the first game of a two-game suspension for a violation of team rules.

WAKE FOREST (5-6, 0-1)

Hamby 2-8 1-2 5, Wright 1-2 0-3 2, Douglas 4-14 2-5 11, Boykin 5-11 1-2 14, Williams 3-9 0-0 6, Johnson 0-0 0-0 0, Walker 0-0 1-2 1, Webster 0-0 0-0 0, Calicott 0-2 0-0 0, Garcia 5-8 3-7 13. Totals 20-54 8-21 52.

VIRGINIA TECH (5-5, 1-0)

Ugoka 13-18 2-6 28, Campbell 1-2 0-0 2, L. Evans 1-3 0-0 2, Fenyn 0-4 2-2 2, Tellier 9-15 2-4 23, Sarver 0-0 2-2 2, Wilson 1-5 0-0 2, Young 0-2 0-0 0, Nichols 0-0 0-0 0, N. Evans 1-1 2-2 4, Kiss-Rusk 1-1 0-0 2, Hadley 2-4 2-2 6, Hall 0-0 0-0 0, Lloyd 0-0 0-0 0, Conyers 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 29-55 12-18 73.

Halftime- VT, 35-20. Three-pointers- WF 4-13 (Douglas 1-7, Boykin 3-3, Williams 0-1, Calicott 0-1, Garcia 0-1), VT 3-10 (Ugoka 0-1, Fenyn 0-2, Tellier 3-4, Wilson 0-1, Young 0-2). Rebounds- WF 26 (Williams 5, Garcia 5), VT 38 (Ugoka 8, Tellier 8). Fouls- WF 18, VT 21. Fouled out- WF (Walker), VT (Campbell). Technical fouls- WF (Walker, Williams). Assists- WF 7 (Williams 3), VT 22 (L. Evans 6, Wilson 6). Turnovers- WF 15, VT 17. Officials- Brooks, Inouye, Morris. A- 4,017.

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