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January 10, 2014

Senior leaders continue to play well for Tech women's basketball squad

By: Marc Mullen

Monet Tellier has teamed with Uju Ugoka to provide leadership for the Hokies as they head into ACC play.

Behind its two senior leaders, the Virginia Tech women’s basketball team closed out 2013 on a high note, winning four straight contests to get to the 10-win mark faster than any team since the 2007-08 squad. However, the Hokies have not been as fortunate since the ball dropped on 2014, as they fell in a New Year’s Day tilt at Hampton and then lost their ACC opener at Boston College on Jan. 5.

Senior Uju Ugoka has carried the team for most of the season, leading the team in scoring in 11 straight games through the BC loss, a string that dates back to a Nov. 17 win over Bucknell. She has scored in double figures in every game this season except for one, and her 19.1 points-per-game average heading into the start of conference play ranked third in the ACC in scoring.

She’s also been pulling down rebounds. Her 10.9 boards a game ranked her fourth in the ACC entering the BC game, and she was just one of four players in the league averaging a double-double.

“Effort. Effort,” Tech coach Dennis Wolff said about Ugoka’s tremendous start. “The girl, since she came back in September, has worked as hard as any player I’ve ever been around, both when we are practicing and when she can go into the gym on her own.

“And she’s improved in regard to some of the things that I was concerned about. She’s better passing the ball. She’s catching it better. She’s doing a good job defensive rebounding. So I think, in general, it’s all better, just her effort and her will to try and get her to where basketball might be able to take her.”

Monet Tellier hasn’t been as consistent a scorer as Ugoka this year, but is contributing in all facets of the game, as she is third on the team in scoring, fourth in rebounding, and has sparked the team at much-needed times.

With four minutes left in the game against Michigan State, the Spartans had just tied the game thanks to 12 straight points, but Tellier scored five points in a 10-1 Tech run that she started with a 3-pointer, and the team went on to the victory.

Against USC Upstate, Tellier was held scoreless in the first half, but jump-started the Hokies’ offense in the second half with four straight points, as the team beat those Spartans as well.

Then, in the Hokies’ 10th win of the season (Robert Morris), Tellier notched her first double-double of the season with 16 points and 11 boards. After leading for 35 minutes, the Hokies found themselves trailing by two and on defense at the four-minute mark. The Charlotte, N.C. native, who leads the team in steals, picked up a loose ball and went in for a layup, sparking another 10-1 run.

“We knew it was going to be a tough game coming in,” Wolff said after the Robert Morris game. “We had some opportunities to control the game a little bit better than we did, but we let some slip away. But once they [Robert Morris] took the lead at the four-minute mark, I think our girls made a lot of tough plays for us.”

It’s been a common theme this season – the team playing well in the second half and down the stretch. They’ve only been outscored three times after the break, but are 2-1 in those. Fast starts, though, will be the key as the Hokies head into the meat of the ACC schedule.


With her 22-point, 17-rebound effort in the Hokies’ 82-33 dismantling of Radford on Dec. 21, Ugoka registered her sixth consecutive double-double, her eighth of the season and the 13th of her Tech career.

With that performance, she became the first Tech player since Karen Garbis to have six straight games with a double-double, as Garbis accomplished the feat during the 1977-78 basketball season (Feb. 9–25).

“I’m just playing hard,” Ugoka said in response to her success this season. “I just keep playing like I’m used to playing. I don’t change things and just keep playing hard and the game will come. I just look for open shots and take it, or just take it to the rim. I’m just playing more aggressive, no matter how the defense plays me.”

The Lagos, Nigeria native’s six double-doubles came in home games against Richmond (27 points, 17 rebounds), Presbyterian (12, 12), Michigan State (19, 10) and USC Upstate (27, 13) and in road games at Indiana (32, 11) and Radford.

Of her 14 games played this season, she’s failed to grab at least eight rebounds in just one game – six at Old Dominion (Nov. 11).


Through the first month of the season (seven games), freshman Vanessa Panousis was leading the Hokies with a respectable 4.1 assists per game, but since has turned up her game, providing a pair of 10-assist games, and in her next seven games for Tech, she was handing out an average of 5.6 a contest.

She was three assists shy of tying the Tech freshman record for assists in a game set by Lisa Leftwich against VCU in February of 1992. The Sydney, Australia native posted her first career double-double with 15 points and 10 assists in the Robert Morris victory.

Then, at BC in her first Atlantic Coast Conference action, Panousis again had 10 assists, a Tech record by a freshman in an ACC game. She also matched Laura Haskins for the second-most in a single ACC game (at Virginia, Feb. 8, 2009) with the effort and was one shy of Nikki Davis’ school record of 11 against North Carolina on Jan. 14, 2010.

Just entering the halfway point of the season, and the ACC portion of the schedule, Panousis, with 68 assists, is on pace to set the freshman school record for assists in a single season currently held by Carrie Mason (2002-03, 106), and she could be the first player since Amy Wetzel (1999-2000) to reach the 150 mark.