The Hokies (19-13) will move on to the next round, where they will take on Penn State.
The loss brought an end to a successful season for Navy (24-10). The Mids won the first post-season tournament game in program history –– and attained just the second WNIT victory in Patriot League history –– with Friday night’s 61-51 overtime victory at George Washington. The 24 victories tied for the most in a single season in program history.
The Mids, who were picked sixth in this year’s Patriot League preseason poll, placed second in the league with a 14-4 record, won three games against Army West Point and advanced to the championship game of the league tournament.
“I think it (the last few weeks) summed up the entire season in terms of being competitive and trying to rise to every occasion that is brought our way,” said senior Sarita Condie, who led the Mids with 26 points. “I wasn’t surprised we battled and competed in all of the games. I think it is cool we came together this way at the end of the season because that’s what we have been working for.”
“I’m just so incredibly proud of our team,” said Navy head coach Stefanie Pemper. “They fought to the end, and I knew they would. We understood the magnitude and everything about this game. Just a really tough loss, but our kids battled to the end.”
The Hokies were hot from long range early, which forced Navy to spend the rest of the game trying to make up a deficit. Va. Tech made nine 3-pointers on 15 attempts (60 percent) in the first half to take a 42-28 halftime advantage.
The Hokies built their lead to 16 points early in the third period, but a halfcourt shot by Condie as the third quarter ended pulled the Mids to within seven points at 59-52.
Navy trimmed the margin to 61-57 on another Condie basket with 7:03 left, then got within four again on two Condie free throws with 5:01 remaining. Hannah Fenske buried a 3-pointer for Navy with 3:44 left to make it 66-62, but that was as closed as the Mids could get. Va. Tech scored the next five points to make it 71-62 with less than three minutes left.
“Virginia Tech obviously respected us and came to play,” said Pemper. “We needed them to be a little less focused and have a few more of our 3-point shots fall.”
The Hokies shot well from everywhere, making 48.9 percent of their field-goal attempts, including a 12-for-22 performance from beyond the arc. They also made 17 of 20 free throws.
Navy shot 40 percent from the floor and was 8 for 23 (34.8 percent) from 3-point range. The Mids also went 8 for 9 from the line.
In her final game, Condie tied her career high in scoring. She was 9 for 15 from the floor, 3 for 7 from 3-point range and made all five of her foul shots. Condie also added a team-high eight rebounds.
Seniors Ashanti Kennedy and Justice Swett also capped their careers with strong efforts. Kennedy totaled nine points and four rebounds while Swett tied her career high with six steals and grabbed four rebounds.
“Going into this year, we wanted to leave a legacy of a program that does things the right way,” said Condie of the senior class. “Work hard and overcome adversity, and I think that’s exactly what we did — and then some. I think we shocked a lot of people, but we always had a lot of confidence we could go far if we stuck together. I am really happy I was a part of this team, especially with my two classmates, that we came all of the way to the second round of the WNIT.”
“They (the seniors) are not happy with this,” said Pemper. “This is the fourth high-major team we played this year and we were right there with all of them. It is definitely a reflection of their spirit and their attitude.
“What can you say about Sarita? The other team had to know she is our leading scorer and a big-time player who steps up and yet she goes for 26 points. Just incredible. Ashanti was a spark tonight and Justice —her defense was a spark (with) six steals. Obviously, I have a lot of respect for this class, and we are going to miss them tremendously.”