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March 10, 2011

A season of ups and downs ends in ACC tournament

By: Marc Mullen

In a tournament that saw five upsets, including No. 6 seed North Carolina making the ACC Tournament championship game, No. 12 Virginia Tech could not pull off an upset of its own and ended its season with a loss to No. 5 seed Georgia Tech on March 3 in Greensboro, N.C.

It was an up and down year for the Hokies, who won their first four games and then used a comeback for the ages to put together another four-game winning streak that culminated with the winning of the 2010 Hilton Garden Hokie Classic, giving the team its 17th Hokie Classic title in 21 years.

Trailing by as many as 17 in the first half and facing a 15-point deficit at the break, Tech scored 55 second-half points to register a 74-68 victory over Vanderbilt, which also marked its first win over an SEC school since 2004 and the biggest win of the season.

There could have been a reason for the momentous comeback, as head coach Beth Dunkenberger explained in her postgame press conference afterward.

“Our players played this game and we coached this game inspired. Oreanna Crews was 100 years old when she passed away on Christmas Eve and she was our honorary coach every year,” she said. “We dedicated this tournament, and in particular, this game to Coach Crews and we were very pleased. I know she is smiling from up above and this one was for her.”


Monet Tellier (31) had one of the best rookie seasons for the Hokies, scoring 240 points.

One of the catalysts of that impressive run was freshman Monet Tellier, who scored a season-high 23 points in the comeback and earned MVP honors for the Classic. The Charlotte, N.C., native also scored 23 against the Wolfpack and finished the season third on the team in scoring with 240 points.

Putting that number into perspective, Hokies third all-time leading scorer, Ieva Kublina (2000-04), tallied 242 points during her rookie campaign, while the fourth-leading scorer, Jenny Root (1991-95), scored 239 points. Only seven of the 22 1,000-point scorers in Hokie history scored more than Tellier’s output this season.

“We talked about who wanted to step up and score and we needed people to be ready to knock down shots, whether it’s man or zone and [Monet] really led the way,” Dunkenberger said of Tellier’s performance against Vanderbilt. “She gave us great energy, and that is one of the reasons I recruited her. I love the fire in her, and we fed off of it.”


Speaking of 1,000-point scorers, junior Shanel Harrison led the Hokies this season with 354 points and 159 rebounds, marking the fourth straight season the team’s leading scorer was also the top rebounder.

Harrison will enter her senior campaign with 780 points, needing just 220 to reach the 1,000-point plateau, while her 438 rebounds is 181 shy of reaching the top 10 all time at the school.

The Washington, D.C., product set her career high three times this past season, reaching a high of 27 at Boston College. She also improved her range this year, knocking down 26 3’s opposed to just eight in her first two seasons.


Nikki Davis departs as one of Tech’s all-time leaders in assists and steals.

Despite playing just three seasons in a Hokie uniform, departing senior Nikki Davis left her name in one career category, just missed another, and also finished this season in the top 10 all time in two categories.

Her 140 assists and 67 steals during the 2010-11 campaign now rank her seventh in those season categories, while her 318 career assists is 10th all time. She finished just two steals shy of the career mark, while her 1.94 steals per game is fourth all time among those in the top 10.

In the final regular-season stats, Davis was third in assists (4.7 per game) and seventh in steals (2.2) and assist to turnover ratio (1.4).

“To be honest with you, I probably need to take care of the ball a little bit more,” Davis said earlier this season. “Seventh in the ACC isn’t bad, but I’ve had a couple more turnovers than I’d like to have.

“I’m not really a stats person, but I wish that I would have been able to play all four years at one university and been able to see how well I would have done statistically. It’s an honor and it’s great to be mentioned with those girls, but I really don’t think about it too much. I just play.”


Since joining the Atlantic Coast Conference, Virginia Tech has been honored with just three weekly honors – one Player of the Week and two Rookie of the Week selections.

The Hokies almost doubled that output on Dec. 19, when Harrison and Tellier earned player and rookie honors, respectively, after a double overtime victory at William & Mary.

Harrison scored a then-career high of 25 points, which including hitting a game-tying 3 with 3.2 seconds left to force the first extra period. Tellier was selected as the rookie after notching her first career double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds.