Virginia Tech Coach Bonnie Henrickson told her team after the Hokies' first-round victory over West Virginia in the Big East Conference tournament that they probably had earned a trip to the NCAA tournament. But if they wanted to be sure, they had to beat No. 24 Boston College today.
Virginia Tech, which missed out on the tournament last season, listened to its coach. The Hokies strengthened their case for an NCAA berth by beating the Eagles, 74-70, in overtime at Louis Brown Athletic Center. The win lifted fifth-seeded Virginia Tech (21-8) into the semifinals against top-seeded Connecticut.
"We've all chewed on what happened last year," Henrickson said. "All we ever heard was if you'd just won one in the [Big East] tournament so we took care of business [Saturday]. We won one in the tournament. I told the kids, 'You want a guarantee? We beat West Virginia, and you've got to beat Boston College.' "
The Hokies, who trailed most of the game, had a chance to win the game in regulation. After Jessalyn Deveny sank a three-point basket with 28 seconds remaining to tie the score at 57, Dawn Chriss got the ball on the right baseline. Her shot hit the rim and fell away as time expired, sending the game into overtime.
Virginia Tech opened the extra period by sinking back-to-back three-pointers to go up by six. Chrystal Starling, weakened by the flu, sank the first shot from behind the arc. Starling, who needed intravenous injections the last couple days to prevent dehydration, played 30 minutes and finished with 18 points.
"I just can't think about" being ill, Starling said. "When you're on the court, the only thing that you're thinking about is playing to win and getting things done. I didn't have a great first half. I knew that as a senior I have to step up."
Chriss followed up Starling's three-pointer with one of her own. Chriss, who scored a career-high 13 points against West Virginia in the opening round, had 14 points against Boston College.
"I ought to be fired for not playing Dawn Chriss more," Henrickson said. "Tell [Athletic Director] Jim Weaver he really needs to reevaluate because . . . I should be fired for not playing that kid more. To her credit, she's gained more confidence because she's played so well in practice."
By the time Ieva Kublina sank a three-pointer to put Virginia Tech ahead 68-61 with 2 minutes 20 seconds remaining in overtime, Boston College was reeling.
"We felt like we had the momentum going into the overtime," Deveny said. "Then they came out and hit a couple threes right away."
The Eagles had Virginia Tech back on its heels early in the first half. Boston College scored nine unanswered points to open the game then steadily built its lead to 18-6. Although the Hokies cut the deficit to eight by halftime, they trailed by double digits again early in the second half.
"We realized we're not going to give up," said Kublina, who finished with 20 points, 11 rebounds and 5 blocks. "We were only down by  points."
* CONNECTICUT 70, SETON HALL 47: Diana Taurasi hit two three-pointers to cap a quick 13-point run and the No. 1 Huskies (30-0) won their 69th straight game.
* MIAMI 77, RUTGERS 74: The Hurricanes' Tamara James hit two free throws with eight seconds to play after the No. 18 Scarlet Knights (20-7) received a technical for calling a timeout with none left.
* VILLANOVA 50, NOTRE DAME 39: Trish Juhline scored 12 of her 14 points in the second half as the No. 20 Wildcats (23-5) advanced to today's semifinal against Miami (18-11).