January 29, 2021 

Inside the upsets that rocked the college basketball world

Virginia Tech took down No. 2 NC State while No. 19 Arkansas handed No. 3 UConn its first loss of the season

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Arkansas WBB celebrates after win over UConn, via Twitter.

Last night saw not one, but two top-three upsets in women’s basketball, both of which were thrilling overtime battles. Virginia Tech ended up beating No. 2 NC State, 83-71, while No. 19 Arkansas pulled off a stunning 90-87 victory over No. 3 UConn.

Virginia Tech vs No. 2 NC State, 83-71

On Thursday night, Virginia Tech earned the program’s first win over a team ranked inside the AP poll’s top four with an 83-71 overtime victory. It also marks the team’s first win over a ranked program since 2019. With the dub, the Hokies’ record improves to 8-7, while the Wolfpack was handed its first loss of the year and now stands at 11-1.

Aisha Sheppard played a big role for the Hokies, dropping 28 points in the second half alone. After a rough first half that held Sheppard and center Elizabeth Kitley to just two points combined, Sheppard came back onto the court with a vengeance after halftime. Her aggressive play led to a career-high 14 free throw attempts, of which she made 12. She also added four more three’s, including the dagger in OT, to what is already a program-leading record.

After a 7-0 run late in the game, Tech led by three points when NC State forward Camille Hobby drained a buzzer-beater three to send the game into overtime. The Hokies were unfazed.

Tech went on to score 26 points in the frame to pull away for the win. Kitley got a double-double and Azana Baines scored a career-high 16 points and pulled down five rebounds for good measure.

“First and foremost, we needed that,” head coach Kenny Brooks said. “Very happy for the kids, very proud of their performance and very proud of them period. The way that they’ve handled everything that’s been happening and just very proud. To finally be able to get over the hum and get one of this magnitude feels really good.”

The Hokies will take the court again on Sunday against the North Carolina Tar Heels.

No. 19 Arkansas vs No. 3 UConn, 90-87

For the second time this season, the Razorbacks have taken down a top-5 team. The first was then-No. 4 Baylor (83-78) back in December. On the other side, Thursday marked UConn’s first loss of the season and just their ninth loss as a program since the 2014-15 season.

Arkansas guard Chelsea Dungee was a force to be reckoned with on the court Thursday night. She recorded a season-high 37 points (only Razorback to ever score 37+ more than once in a career) and was unstoppable all game long. Her efforts also extended her double-digit scoring streak to 21 games.

Dungee went 13-for-21 including 4-for-5 on threes, and she didn’t slow down in the second half, which saw 22 of the 37 total points. Guard Amber Ramirez rose to the challenge and dropped 22 points of her own, shooting 50 percent from the field and from deep. It’s no wonder Arkansas leads the SEC in three scoring categories this year.

The fourth quarter was an explosive offensive battle as each team tried to snag the win and avoid going to overtime. Guard Paige Bueckers was a powerful presence as usual and kept the Huskies in the game by putting up 15 points in the final frame alone. But it wasn’t enough, as the Hogs made some clutch shots at the end and ultimately pulled away with an upset victory.

Next up, Arkansas will take on Auburn and UConn is set to face No. 17 DePaul on Sunday.

Written by Sydney Olmstead

Pac-12 and Las Vegas Aces reporter.

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