It was Close, and Then, It Wasn’t
Wake Forest’s women’s basketball team made the trip up over the Blue Ridge and into Virginia to face off against the Virginia Tech Hokie women who were fresh off the road from a tough win against Pittsburgh. They thought that they might just have gotten a good handle on the best way to beat the Hokies, but fortunately they just couldn’t grab it and hold on long enough to accomplish the feat.
We get the dub and run our streak to three straight pic.twitter.com/uyC5Wb4OYB— Virginia Tech Women's Basketball (@HokiesWBB) January 22, 2023
It seems that the rough patch from a few weeks ago might have been just that, a rough patch in the grander scheme of things. Wake wasn’t a push over, though, at least in the 1st and 3rd quarters.
The First Half of the First Quarter was a Bit of a Nail Biter
Liz Kitley started off the scoring for Tech with a nice little jumper from inside the key with an assist by Point Guard Georgia Amoore. Kitley repeated the feat after Wake rung out a three-point attempt and it seemed like the Hokies might develop an opening run that would put the game into “no sweat” mode. Such was not the case, though. A Kitley turnover and a missed jumper allowed the Deacons to put up a quick 5 points, and suddenly the Hokies were looking at the downside of a run. The Hokies didn’t score another bucket for the next 2 and a half minutes or so, and in the ensuing scoring drought Wake surged to an 8-4 lead which on the surface wasn’t horrible, but in reality, a serious chunk of time had been burned off the 1st quarter clock and the Hokies hadn’t really found a rhythm, and no one had scored except for Kitley.
At the 4:43 mark Kitley scored on an old fashioned 3-point play by drawing a foul during a shot, and then making the free throw. That narrowed the score to a single point, but also seemed to ignite a bit of a surge in the Hokies. After an exchange of fouls, Tech evened the score with a free throw from Kitley (who missed one - which is a rarity that seems to be snowballing on her). Liz would score the first 10 points for the Hokies. It wasn’t until the 1:27 mark that Taylor Soule drained two free-throws to show Wake that someone else on the team could actually score points. It put the Hokies up by 2 (12-10) and with a turnover before the end of the quarter and a D’asia Gregg bucket allowed the Hokies to end the first with a lead and some momentum.
The second quarter started with almost a minute of push pull and a foul called on Wake. Taylor Soule pushed the lead to 6 with two buckets from the charity stripe. After a Wake 3-pointer, Soule drove the key and dropped in a two-point layup. And the lead stayed intact for the remainder of the game. Georgia Amoore finally checked in with a bucket from downtown at the 7:59 mark and then put up two more points in the next exchange. She was pressed hard and double teamed most of the first quarter so getting of the schneid was a badly needed icebreaker. Liz Kitley kept draining twos from the paint, and Amoore managed another 3 from beyond the arc all while the defensive work kept the Deacons out of much of the exchange. By the end of the quarter/half G would find the range on two more treys and Kayana Traylor would also make her presence known.
The half closed with the Hokies up by 15, and Wake trying to figure out just what to do to fix the problems that they were having in the bucket exchange.
The Second Half the Pinch, No Panic, and Standing on It!
You would think that with a dominant performance in the 2nd, and a fifteen-point lead leaving the floor for the big break at halftime the Hokies would come out red hot and put the Demon Deacons away. How many ways can you holler UUGGGHHH!!! Charlie Brown?
The third quarter started with a good layup by Taylor Soule, and then the engine backfired and no one could find the gas pedal. A series of fouls, and three pointers by Wake Forest and the Hokies found their 17-point lead being steadily nibbled and then chewed away. The Hokies stalled at 37 points until the 7:37 mark of the 3rd quarter when Liz Kitley scored four points on two short jumpers to a 3-pointer by the Deacs. So, it went on like that for most of the remainder of the quarter. Wake just kept nibbling at the exchanges, getting one or two more points than the Hokies and the lead kept narrowing. It took two threes one each from Ashley Owusu and Georgia Amoore to keep Tech from being passed but they did stall at 53 with Amoore’s trey, and Wake kept scoring. The buzzer sounded and the score was a nerve grinding 53-50 with the momentum going to the visitors.
It was time for Kenny Brooks to do some of that coaching up stuff during the break. One weird and unexplained thing did happen at the 5:20 mark right around the media timeout. The Hokies were called for some sort of Team Technical Foul. The crowd in the Cassell sort of erupted in near revolt. There hasn’t been anything written up about it, and nothing was said to anyone at the game as to why. Who knows, maybe that riled up the players as much as it did the crowd, because whatever Brooks said in the break found the accelerator and change entire tone of the game. At the 3 second mark of the game Wake Forest looked like it had a real chance. At 3:14 mark of the 4th, it just wasn’t going to happen.
The fourth quarter was a straight up run away. The Demon Deacons weren’t coming close to winning exchanges. Kitley started off the scoring with one of her patented twos and those were quickly followed by two freethrows from Taylor Soule who was fouled while rebounding, and then two more from Kitley. Soule scored another two, Georgia missed and then hit a three, Soule hit another short jumper, and Kayana Traylor hit from the paint for two more. The Hokies were suddenly up 14, and Wake hadn’t successfully put the ball in the bucket until the 2:27 mark. In fact, that’s when they scored their last points. The score was 68-57 Tech. Of course, the Hokies scored six more points as Wake tried their best to break their log jam to no avail. Kitley would score four of the last six, with Kayana Traylor putting in the final two from the charity stripe. Traylor would end the agony for Wake with a steal and a dribble away until the clock burned off the final 28 seconds.
Stats Highlights (Hold on Folks there are a bunch of these things.)
To say that this was only Liz’s game would be unfair to the other players but this was certainly a Kitley special. Not only did she grab a double-double in her 38 minutes on the floor (28 points and 12 rebounds) but she also broke the field goal record for Hokies Women’s basketball and now holds the lead and still has lots left to play.
She stands alone— Virginia Tech Women's Basketball (@HokiesWBB) January 22, 2023
Liz takes possession of our program record for FGs this afternoon pic.twitter.com/yr9pMRE4Ub
Congratulations to you Liz!
G came a long way to play basketball in the mountains of southwest Virginia. She is leaving little doubt that Hokie Nation is very happy that she made the trip. Though she started a bit slowly in this contest, you had to know that at some point she’d figure out how to shake free and start draining those threes. She ended up with five of them and a total of 17 points. She also managed a solid 6 assists that also did something that broke something else in the Hokie Women’s Basketball record book. The mark of a good point guard is that column marked Assists, and Georgia just crossed off another record in her book.
Congrats to You to G!
Some folks just make a big mark wherever they show up, and Soule’s mark, her drive and aggressiveness, changes the momentum to the Hokies advantage nearly every time she plays. She missed out on a double-double by two boards, but her 8 rebounds were critical, especially because five of them were offensive. Those mean put-back attempts on missed shots and can have a serious impact on the exchanges on the floor.
Taylor's Version ♀️— Virginia Tech Women's Basketball (@HokiesWBB) January 22, 2023
T Soule has 14 & 7 pic.twitter.com/RkeelHm7uj
Kayana Traylor, Ashley Owusu, Cayla King, and D’asia Gregg
Traylor put up 6 with two steals. Owusu put up a three and a foul shot, and Gregg put in 2. Cayla King struggled again from the floor (she’ll eventually find the range, again) but did manage an assist and four rebounds. She was also getting caught up in ticky tack foul calls that got her into foul trouble too early to get a good chance at playing aggressively enough to break that targeting problem.
This was a satisfying win, but the near heart attack inducing third quarter needs to be avoided in future contests.
The Road Ahead
The Hokies next game is in Durham against Duke on Thursday the 26th and then up to Hooville to face a rematch against the Lady Cavaliers on Sunday January 29th. There are 9 games left in the season, and this team has a good chance of running the table. It’s not guaranteed, every one of them is an ACC foe, and every single one is a capable program. It’s going to be exciting.