Saturday, December 29, 2012

JuCo transfer Ugoka makes instant impact for Va. Tech women

Uju Ugoka notched a double-double against N.C. A&T, giving the Hokies solid post play.

Virginia Tech Hokies basketball

Berman Courtside

BLACKSBURG -- The Virginia Tech women's basketball team is now 2-0 with Uju Ugoka in the lineup.

Ugoka had 10 points, 12 rebounds and three steals to help the Hokies squash North Carolina A&T 58-39 on Friday afternoon at Cassell Coliseum.

It was the second straight lopsided win for the Hokies (6-5) since Ugoka, a two-time junior-college All-American, became eligible to play for them. She had 28 points and eight rebounds in last weekend's rout of Wake Forest.

"We're all excited that we have a full team now, especially having Uju," Tech guard Alyssa Fenyn said. "She brings a lot of energy to our team."

"She opens a lot of things up, too, because now they have to respect the posts and the guards more," Tech guard Monet Tellier said.

Ugoka said the quality of JUCO basketball she played was good preparation for NCAA Division I.

"The junior-college basketball is similar to the D-I basketball," said Ugoka, a native of Nigeria. "It's just that those in junior college, they don't pass their grades, so they move to junior college."

Ugoka said practicing with the Hokies while she was ineligible helped her adjustment.

"It made me step my game up," said Ugoka, a power forward who had to sit out the first nine games for an NCAA violation she committed in junior college last season.

The taller Hokies outrebounded the Aggies 48-26.

Ugoka snared a game-high six offensive rebounds.

"That's possessions that we haven't had in the past," Tech coach Dennis Wolff said. "She kept a lot of balls alive."

For the third time this season, Tech held a foe to fewer than 40 points.

The Aggies (6-5) shot just 24.4 percent from the field.

"We contested every shot that they took," said Tellier, who had 12 points, seven rebounds, five assists and no turnovers.

Amber Calvin, who entered the game averaging 11.1 points for the Aggies, had just one point. Calvin, who was guarded by Tellier, was 0 of 4 from the field.

"Monet played an unbelievable all-around game," Wolff said.

Fenyn scored 12 points, her third-highest total of the season.

Fenyn, who had three assists and two turnovers, has taken on a new role this season. Aerial Wilson started at point guard last year but lost her starting job after the season-opening loss to Old Dominion. Fenyn, a senior who had spent her Tech career starting on the wing, now starts at point guard.

"It's a process," Fenyn said. "That's just something I have to work on every day, something I'm not used to."

Whenever Wilson enters the game, Fenyn moves back to her old spot on the perimeter.

"I like when Aerial comes in the game and I slide over to the wing, to be honest," Fenyn said with a grin.

With the game tied 8-8 with 11:24 to go in the first half, the Hokies went on a 17-6 run to grab a 25-14 lead with 4:57 left in the half. They led the rest of the way. Fenyn had two 3-pointers in the run, which also included two Ugoka buckets and a Tellier 3-pointer.

"They threw a little bit of different defenses at us," Fenyn said. "Once we figured it out, we got adjusted and ran our offense."

Freshman Taijah Campbell had eight points and eight rebounds for Tech.

JaQuayla Berry scored 16 points for North Carolina A&T, a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference team which played Tech for just the second time.

The Hokies will host defending MEAC champ Hampton on Sunday. If the Hokies win, they will match the number of victories hey recorded all of last season.

N.C. A&T (6-5)

Berry 3-12 8-8 16, Gorham 1-1 0-0 2, Nazario 3-9 0-0 6, King 2-9 0-3 4, Calvin 0-4 1-2 1, Lyons 0-1 0-0 0, Bursey 1-3 3-6 5, Davis 0-1 0-0 0, Ross 1-5 3-4 5. Totals 11-45 15-23 39.

VIRGINIA TECH (6-5)

Ugoka 5-10 0-0 10, Campbell 4-7 0-0 8, L. Evans 3-9 0-0 6, Fenyn 5-10 0-0 12, Tellier 5-11 0-0 12, Sarver 0-0 0-0 0, Wilson 1-3 0-0 2, Young 0-1 0-0 0, Nichols 0-0 0-0 0, N. Evans 2-4 2-2 6, Kiss-Rusk 0-0 0-0 0, Hadley 1-2 0-0 2, Hall 0-0 0-0 0, Lloyd 0-2 0-0 0, Conyers 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 26-60 2-2 58.

Halftime-- VT, 31-18. Three-pointers- N.C. A&T 2-10 (Berry 2-5, Nazario 0-1, King 0-2, Lyons 0-1, Bursey 0-1), VT 4-13 (Ugoka 0-1, Fenyn 2-5, Tellier 2-4, Wilson 0-2, Young 0-1). Rebounds- N.C. A&T 26 (King 6), VT 48 (Ugoka 12). Fouls- N.C. A&T 11, VT 17. Assists- N.C. A&T 1 (Nazario 1), VT 15 (Tellier 5). Turnovers- N.C. A&T 13, VT 15. Officials- Fountain, Pettus, Lippa. A- 1,741.

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