BLACKSBURG — The Virginia Tech women’s basketball team blew another lead and lost another ACC game Sunday.
Down by 10 points with less than five minutes left, No. 22 Florida State rallied to beat the Hokies 56-54 at Cassell Coliseum.
The Hokies (13-7, 0-7) dropped their seventh straight game and are still 0-for-January.
“I don’t think that this is the team that’s the best with leadership that I’ve ever had,” Tech coach Kenny Brooks said. “In games like this, you have to have that leader.
“I watched the [Tech men’s] game last night and I looked at Justin Robinson and he took command of the game. He was the leader. … We’ve got to have that same type when things are getting tough. We’ve got to have somebody that’s going to step up and be confident enough to say, ‘Hey, give me the ball,’ or ‘Hey, I’ll settle us down.’”
The Seminoles (17-3, 5-2) scored 22 points off 23 Tech turnovers, including three fast-break layups off turnovers in the final four minutes.
“They were putting pressure on us and we were just careless with the ball,” said Tech forward Regan Magarity, who had 12 points, 10 rebounds and two turnovers. “Our passes were soft. We didn’t come and meet the ball. Just careless mistakes that led to wide-open layups.”
Tech turned the ball over five times and missed two free throws in the final 4:53. Tech was 1 of 6 from the field in that span.
“They turned up the intensity and we didn’t react to it,” Brooks said. “We were very timid.
“We had no one to take command of the offense and grab the ball and say, ‘I’m going to get us to a certain spot,’ and as a result we were unable to … finish the basketball game, which has been our problem.”
Nausia Woolfolk had 27 points and six steals for the Seminoles.
Tech’s skid has included a defeat at Virginia in which the Hokies led by 15 points entering the fourth quarter, and a loss to North Carolina in which Tech led by 10 points at halftime.
On Sunday, Taylor Emery scored to extend Tech’s lead to 52-42 with 4:53 to go. But FSU answered with a game-ending 14-2 run.
“We changed defenses, and that helped us get some … steals,” FSU coach Sue Semrau said.
Freshman point guard Dara Mabrey turned the ball over, with Nicki Ekhomu (16 points) stealing her pass and making a layup to cut the lead to 52-45.
Woolfolk then stole Kendyl Brooks’ pass and made a layup to trim the deficit to 52-47.
Magarity later turned the ball over on a pass, with Woolfolk scoring on a layup to cut the lead to 54-51.
Emery was fouled by Morgan Jones with 40.2 seconds left. Jones then fell to the floor and clutched her throat. Emery was called for a flagrant foul.
“[The official said] it was a chicken wing [elbow] to the throat,” Kenny Brooks said.
“I didn’t do anything on purpose,” Emery said.
Emery missed both her free throws. Ekhomu then made both free throws related to the flagrant foul, cutting the lead to 54-53.
FSU had possession after the free throws. After being fouled, Woolfolk made two free throws for a 55-54 lead.
Emery missed a jumper with 17 seconds left and missed another jumper with 14 seconds left.
“I had some good looks. Just didn’t knock them down,” said Emery, who had 11 points and three turnovers.
After Woolfolk made one of two three throws with 10.9 seconds left to extend the lead to 56-54, Emery drove down the court. She passed the ball to Mabrey, who missed a 3-pointer with two seconds to go.
“Dara was calling for the ball, and she was open,” Emery said.
Mabrey had three points and five turnovers, while forward Trinity Baptiste had 16 points and four turnovers.
Brooks said Tech misses having senior point guard Rachel Camp at full strength. She has been hampered by a knee injury.
It was a bittersweet win for Florida State, said Semrau. FSU’s Amaya Brown was carried to the locker room after suffering a knee injury with 1:37 left.
The Hokies have now lost 16 straight games to ranked foes, including four this month.
Tech’s last chance for a January win will come Thursday at Pittsburgh, which is also 0-7 in the ACC.