No One Expected that There’d Be Anything but a ‘W’
North Carolina is running their college campus programs like the California and Alabama systems where the same university with a sub campus somewhere grows enough in the satellite campus to actually make it a functional stand-alone university and program. The University of North Carolina has several campuses that have grown big enough to be their own schools, and UNC-Ashville is one of them. The Bulldogs got on the busses and made the trip to Blacksburg (roughly 3 hours and 20 minutes or so). One would think that the trip up was done yesterday - but the trip back was happening today. They will be a bit tired, and sort of frustrated, too.
The First Quarter Opened on the Tight Side Due to Ashville’s Defense
I think that the Hokies were just a bit surprised by the ferocity of the Ashville press. You have to hand it to the smaller less talented team, though. They pushed hard, contested for nearly every possession of the contest, and often challenged the Hokies full court.
The first five minutes got folks a bit nervous in the stands, like this was going to be a close one. That changed after the first official media timeout passed, though. Kenny Brooks pulled his quarterback aside and had a game changing conversation. I’d love to have been within earshot of it, but Brooks got Amoore to make a major change in the defense and offense. Tech went to counter pressure, and by the end of the first period had run several fast-paced moves to the basket, including three really nice fast breaks that put Tech up by 9 points at the break: 17-8.
It wasn’t time to breathe too easy, though. Between two teams that looked like they had the range in warmups, 25 combined in the first quarter wasn’t a bragging point. Tech needed to really control the 2nd quarter to put its emphatic turkey print on this one. The problem was that there was some basket trading and then a two-minute scoreless stretch where both teams just weren’t handling the ball well, and neither team had the range to get anything much to drain.
Tech had stalled out at 20 points, and the Bulldogs were creeping back into the contest and narrowed the lead to 7 at 20-13. That’s when Taylor Soule finally found the range on a three and started some positive scoring momentum going in the Hokies’ favor. The next minute and a half the offense was Liz Kitley inside, and from the charity stripe. At just under 4 minutes to play, Kayana Traylor drained a three, Kitley sunk another free throw, and the lead stretched to a more comforting 16 points. Soule, Traylor, and Kitley would dominate those last four minutes of the half, and it closed with the teams headed for the locker room separated by an emphatic 22 points (41-19).
The Second Half was More of the Same - Steady Acceleration
The Bulldogs would put up a basket, Tech would put up two. Then Ashville might make a free throw, but Tech would drain a three. Forward Cayla King was 4 for 6 from downtown and D’asia Gregg was 2 of 3. Georgia Amoore, though concentrating on running the offense, managed to grab 2 three-pointers. She opened the game with a three and grabbed another one in the second half as things began to close and she needed the points to make her afternoon a double-double the other way. Amoore was whipping the ball around into scoring position all day and ended up with 10 assists.
Scoring Went Deep Down the Bench
The Hokies managed five players scoring in double figures. Soule led with 21 points, Kitley was right behind her with 20 (and a double-double with 10 rebounds), King had 12 with those four 3’s, Amoore as mentioned closed with 10 (10 assists), and Gregg grabbed 10 as well.
Special Mentions are Deserved
Congratulations to freshman guard Maddie Vejsicky who scored her first collegiate points by draining a three-pointer from the right side. Everyone who knew that it was her first college bucket was excited for her. I certainly hope that they kept that ball for her. It was a beautiful shot, too. She drained it and heard her name announce followed by the emphatic, FOR THREEEEE!!!!!
The first bucket of Maddie's career pic.twitter.com/Q30r51eXMD— Virginia Tech Women's Basketball (@HokiesWBB) December 11, 2022
And really that was that.
Six in double figures this afternoon as we roll past the Bulldogs pic.twitter.com/dNFyAQTqbT— Virginia Tech Women's Basketball (@HokiesWBB) December 11, 2022
The next game is likely to be another challenge inside. Notre Dame is coming to the Cassell on December 18th. The Irish are always a challenge and will be pushing the Hokies hard. The tight pressing Ashville defense was a good practice run for the heavier pressure and much better talent presence coming in from South Bend.
It’s going to be an exciting game.
It’s the heart of exam week. The Hokies are almost wrapped for the first semester, and the students are heading home for the holidays. A good rest and some practice will be necessary because the full ACC schedule is looming as Christmas and New Year's approaches.