The Big Regular Season Broom, Please!
There is no minimizing this for the Wahoos. The ACC is a basketball league, and that goes for both the men’s and women’s programs. Well, the men are working out some struggles and fighting off a serious slump with some critical wins. BUT!!! This isn’t about men’s hoops, is it? It’s about something big and wonderful brewing with the Tech women’s basketball program. The last game the Duke Lady Blue Devils which were probably under ranked at #16 (they are leading the ACC with Notre Dame at the moment) did their homework and studied the way Notre Dame defeated the Hokies. They emptied their bench and played a foul heavy street brawl game against the finesse style of play the Hokies field. Their main objective was to stimy both Liz Kitley and Georgia Amoore with relays of double teams, hard pressure, and shot challenges. There just weren’t enough points from the other players to make up the difference in the battle.
Tech Didn’t Lead Tip to Buzzer, But Did for the Last 37 Minutes
Maybe Virginia didn’t have the resources, or maybe they didn’t study the film, but they did start off looking like they had. The Wahoos started the game off on a mini-run of sorts jumping out to a quick 5-0 lead with a minute and 30 or so burned off the 1st quarter clock. Not many Hokies took shots in that time, and no one connected. Taylor Soule and Georgia Amoore both missed. But then at the 8:18 mark Soule dropped in a two pointer to crack the Tech scoring ice. From there, Liz Kitley scored 2 off of an Amoore assist, and Tech finally had some momentum going. The Hoos fouled Soule and she put the Hokies ahead with two shots from the charity stripe (Soule was 5-6 from the free throw line so it’s not a great idea to foul her to try to shave points off an exchange.) The magic happened over the core of the period in about 5 minutes or so in the 1st. That run, 18 to 4, put 9 points between the teams, and even with a little point rally near the end of the quarter, the Hoos were either losing or balancing out exchanges. The quarter ended with Tech sitting on a 13-point lead (26-13) and a quarter closing shot from top scoring Kayana Traylor from half court to pound home the point.
The Remainder of the Game was Essentially Basketball Keep Away
Not to put a dull point on the nice sharp scoring pencil, but aside from a furious 2nd quarter Wahoo rally that included a Tech scoring drought combined with some advantageous exchanges allowed the Hoos to come within three points of catching up to the Hokies. A Georgia Amoore 3-pointer pushed that bubble back out to +6 and the Hokies ended the half at that advantage level on a Kayana Traylor bucket, 37-31.
It looks like Kenny Brooks solved a few issues over the half because the Hokies came out of the locker room on a mission to push the bubble back out to a nice comfortable 10 or so point margin to end the 3rd, 48-41. They needed it because the Hoos would make another furious comeback attempt in the middle of the 4th quarter narrowing the lead steadily from the Hokies’ slightly expanded 12 points at the 8:17 mark with a Kayana Traylor 3-pointer.
The Cavaliers spent the next minute and a half or so steadily whittling down the lead by winning exchanges and getting Liz into foul trouble with her 4th personal. She was pulled at the just past the 8-minute mark of the quarter and didn’t get back in until the final two minutes started. Taylor Soule also developed some foul issues and eventually fouled out at the point where Kitley was put back in. By that time, the Hokies had pushed the lead back to 13 points (68-55) so it was a matter of either keeping pace with the scoring or playing keep away to burn off as much clock as possible before making the exchange.
Virginia would never close the 2-digit lead gap for the remainder of the game, and the Hokies grabbed the big broom from the closet to sweep the Lady Cavs off of the court and grab some much-needed points in the Commonwealth Clash. The game, itself, ended with a bit of a fizzle as Tech had no reason to score more after Traylor’s short jumper on a fastbreak with 30 seconds left. UVA had exhausted its opportunities so the missed three-pointer at the 22 second mark was inconsequential. Tech grabbed the defensive board and dribbled the ball down the court as the clock wound down to 00:00.
Gonzo game for KT! The Hoos froze out Georgia so Traylor stepped up big time for 32 minutes total, leveraging those Amoore aimed double teams and pressure to get good looks, challenge inside and drop threes from outside. She led the team in scoring with 25 points. The nice thing was that she covered the bases. She was a perfect 4-4 from the charity stripe. She shot 50% from 3-point range (3-6 including that bomb from half court), and she was a total of 6 of 10 from 2-point range. Traylor also managed a little ball theft and pulled down a rebound for what was essentially an offensive tour de force for the game.
Kitley’s struggles shooting at Duke went by the wayside for the UVA matchup. She probably would have scored more, 16, if she hadn’t been pulled for foul trouble during the game, in particular that big stretch in the 4th. She was an excellent 8-11 from 2-point range, and though missed a double-double did grab 7 rebounds. She made up for that by knocking out four blocks and grabbing a steal. It was a solid performance in recovering from the Duke struggle.
Georgia Amoore and Taylor Soule
Georgia and Taylor were one point off of a double in scoring with 9 each. Amoore did pump in 5 assists with four defensive rebounds, and even smacked out a block. Soule fouled out in the 4th quarter and spent 10 minutes on the bench trying to keep the foul count down. She was critical in subbing in for equally foul troubled Kitley. In those 20 minutes, though Soule grabbed those 9 points, 5 boards, and as mentioned before was 5-6 from the free-throw line.
Cayla King, D’asia Gregg, and Ashley Owusu
King found the range on two shots from downtown, but only attempted 4, so you have to wonder if she’d have gotten a few more if she had put it up more often. Cayla played 29 minutes, put up 7 total points, a rebound and an assist. Gregg played 27 minutes. She put up two entire shots and one drained. Her gig for the day seemed to be floor work with 5 boards, 6 assists, a block and 2 steals on the game. Ashley Owusu played more time this game, and managed four, a Field Goal and two free throws. She also made two assists. It’s going to take a bit of time and seeing her get more involved as the season closes is good news.
Another Program Record for Liz
With no Football, the Commonwealth Clash points from all of the other competing sports get more important.
Of course, there is the ACC Tournament so don’t put the brooms away just yet. The Hokies might face the Hoos, again in a month.
The Hokies Drop a Single Spot for the Duke Loss in the AP Poll
The AP Top 25 drop was going to happen because of the Duke loss, but the win on the road against the Wahoos probably kept the damage to a minimum. The Hokies are where they started the season, again at #13 with 317 votes. This is still prime seeding territory for the NCAA Tournament. The USA Today Coaches haven’t been published, yet. Tech was #10 in the Jan 24th poll so they shouldn’t be dropping too far in that one, either.
Next Up, the Hokies come home to the Cassell to play Syracuse on Thursday February 4th at 7pm. They’ll get a much-needed weekend break but that means some travel time to Raleigh to face the Wolf Pack of NC State for their first of two in the span of three weeks because NC State comes to the Cassell for the season’s home finale Feb 19th. Tech finishes the season on the road, so a sweep of the Pack would be a seriously good momentum booster (along with tournament seeding byes).