Freshman guard Larryn Brooks (5) scored a freshman-record 37 points Wednesday for IU, and played stifling defense as well.
With each challenge that Virginia Tech presented the Hoosiers on Wednesday night, Indiana had an answer. More often than not, that answer was freshman guard Larryn Brooks.
Brooks, who scored a career-high 37 points in IU's 71-65 win over Virginia Tech on Wednesday at Assembly Hall. The total is an IU single-game record for a freshman.
Indiana (8-0), which entered Wednesday's matchup shooting nearly 50 percent from the floor, opened the game shooting just 3-for-18 from the floor (just 16.7 percent). The Hoosiers kept chipping away, and thanks to poor shooting from the Hokies (6-2), IU was able to trail by just four points with a little over four minutes left in the first half.
"We just couldn't get our heads down," Brooks said. "We've been down more points than this in a little closed scrimmage, so we knew what we were doing and we kept our head in the game, just kept playing."
Then, Brooks took over. She scored 10 points in the final 4:10 off two three-pointers, a layup and a pair of free throws. The run helped IU to a 14-0 run to end the first half and give IU a 35-25 lead.
IU came out quickly in the second half, as freshman Alexis Gassion hit a three-pointer on the first shot out of the locker room. Gassion, who finished with 10 points on 3-for-7 shooting, said the quick start on both ends of the court helped set the tone for much of the half.
"It was very important," Gassion said. "Not only did it keep our confidence up, but it gave us the boost to keep on pushing in transition and making good offensive plays.
Once again, when the Hokies cut the IU lead late in the second half, Brooks again went on a scoring run. She scored 11 of the team's final 13 points, including six free throws in a row to finish the game. She didn't miss a free throw, going 11-for-11 from the line. From the floor, Brooks shot 11-for-23 and 4-for-10 from 3-point range.
Senior forward Tabitha Gerardot made just one shot all night, but it was one of the game's biggest plays in IU's win over Virginia Tech.
Despite Brooks' record-breaking offensive numbers, IU head coach Curt Miller said perhaps her largest contribution to the game was on the defensive end. She shut down highly touted Australian freshman guard Vanessa Panousis, who shot 0-for-8 and failed to score in 32 minutes of play. Brooks played all 40 minutes.
On the other side, a familiar name to Miller hurt the Hoosiers — former IU commit Uju Ugoka. Ugoka eventually ended up enrolling at Virginia Tech, and Wednesday night in Assembly Hall, she scored 32 points while grabbing 11 rebounds, almost singlehandedly keeping the Hokies in the game.
Senior forward Tabitha Gerardot was assigned to guard Ugoka for much of the game, and had a trying night on both ends of the court. However, she made one of the game's most important plays in the final minutes.
Gerardot struggled from the floor all game, missing all nine of her attempts entering the final two minutes. After Ugoka completed an old-fashioned 3-point play to cut IU's lead to just three, Gerardot drove inside on the ensuing IU possession, determined to score. She missed the first shot, but got her own rebound, putting the ball back up and in while drawing the foul. Gerardot finished the night 1-for-11, but the one field goal extended IU's lead to five points, and put the game all but out of reach for Virginia Tech.
Indiana is 8-0 for the first time since the 1994-95, and is the only win for the Big Ten thus far in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge. The fact that IU beat the Hokies, Miller said,
"It brings us credibility," Miller said. "There'll be the naysayers about the schedule that we've played so far, but we've gone out and risen to every occasion with a very young team and won games."