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#9 Virginia Tech Hokies Defeat the Wahoos in the Cassell: 74 - 66

It was a long trip from Hooville on a bus to be treated this way. The shorthanded Hokies still hustle hard and adjust to match the Hoos and then pass them for the big Commonwealth Clash ‘W’ at the end. GO HOKIES!!!

Syndication: The Greenville News
Everyone had to shine in this one. Kayana Traylor put in a solid performance.
Ken Ruinard / staff / USA TODAY NETWORK

We call them “Townie Games”. Basketball continues whether or not school is in session, and the period between Fall and Spring semesters can be a real challenge for the basketball teams. They feed off of the fans, and the games take on more of an air of a big party than a contest on the courts. The problem is that the party during the inter-semester break is often a bit sparse and not as much fun. The pep bands aren’t there, the Highty-Tighties cover the women’s basketball games, and like the great majority of the student body they are vacationing. That makes it the responsibility of us locals to get in there and do the cheering duties. A very respectable 2630 folks showed for the game including yours truly and local family.

Tonight, you could see a bit of nervousness cast itself over the stands. During warmups Tech’s star center Elizabeth Kitley was seen walking gingerly in her black track suit, and not warming up with the other players. Ugh... knowing hearts started to sink. UVA was in the Cassell, and our star inside player - she of the chronic regular double-doubles, was looking freshly showered and dressed to cheer for her teammates. NOOOO!!!!

This is Not a Negative Thing But It is a REEEEALLLYYY HARD Thing

The team is already down one starter with Ashely Owusu on the bench with a broken pinkie that needs to heal and be rehabbed. But Kitley out with her is something that most teams just aren’t going to recover from, especially up against a surprisingly good Lady Wahoo team (13-1, and 2-1 ACC). Well, we really shouldn’t have been too surprised that the following starters and more than a couple of players off the Hokie bench covered the problem, nicely.

The First Quarter Started Slowly for Both Teams

It didn’t start off with a burning torch of hope, however. The Hokies weren’t dominating, that’s for sure. The Wahoos started off the scoring with a regular bucket from in the paint, and Taylor Soule evened it up at two. That set of exchanges kept going for half the first quarter with few buckets by either team managing to fall. At the 5:00 timeout mark the score was 8-6 Cavaliers and the Hokies looked like they were a bit out of phase.

The Lady Cavs Ran a Heavy Press “man-to-man” defense that was giving Tech some fits to start. Add to that it threw off the Hokies shot rhythm, so the lid was on the bucket far too often.

The second half of the first quarter the ice broke a bit, but it was the Hoos going on a lead stretching run, and the Hokies having to quickly solve their issues with the Wahoo defense and get the ball to fall. At the 3:57 mark of the first period, UVA was up 5 (13-8) and Tech was searching for something to loosen things up for themselves. Taylor Soule made a nifty jumper from the paint, and then Cayla King missed a three after being set up by a D’Asia Gregg steal. The rebound, however, made it to Georgia Amoore who finally connected from downtown to tie it up. The quarter ended with exchanges and Tech on the plus side by one.

The Second Quarter was a Trip Down Mini-Comeback Lane

The 2nd started much as the 1st had closed. The teams were exchanging buckets, and having ball control issues and shot selection problems. That freeze out broke for the Hoos starting with The Hoos jumped out to a six-point lead with a burst of buckets that weren’t matched by the Hokies. It didn’t last too long, though because Tech went back to nibbling away, playing defense, and hitting free throws to get the score tied up, 32-32 by the 45 second mark of the half. There were no spectacular plays, but the Hokies managed to steadily grab back difference to keep the score close for most of the first half.

The Second Half Changed Gears

The Hokies came out of the locker room with a slightly different attitude and some different wrinkles in adjustment to the Cavalier hard pressing defense. Tech started to go inside out and back and forth on the Hoos, forcing the man-up coverage to chase them. It was enough push that first, the Hokie shooters were getting clear enough to take quality shots, and the Hoos were having trouble keeping up with the movement. There was even a hint at floating zone from the Cavaliers for a bit.

Cayla King started off the 2nd half scoring by draining a three, and that was followed up by Soule going into the basket for a layup. That exchange was five points for two, and that sort of pressure started to do the trick. At the 6:18 mark, Tech was up by 6 points after an Amoore three-pointer. The Hokies managed to get the ball back without the Hoos scoring and Soule dropped in another short shot from the paint to stretch the lead to 8, 44-36.

Then the worry started a bit. The Hokies had a rough spot of weird fouls, ball handling issues, turnovers, and hurried inaccurate shooting. With a minute and seven seconds left on the clock before the break, the Hoos had made up five points and were sitting one deep bucket away from a tie, 46-43. That persisted through a couple of scoring exchanges, but with 4 seconds left on the clock Georgia Amoore dropped in a door slamming three that put the Hokies up six (51-45) and several Wahoos in foul trouble.

The final quarter was one of total frustration for the Wahoos. The Hokies just wouldn’t let them rally up. The Hoos would, on occasion get within three points, but only for a brief few seconds and Tech would go back and re-stretch the lead. Amoore, again, slammed a door on a rally with another deep shot, making a critical 3 at the 1:55 mark of the final period. The remainder of the scoring was limited to free throws, with D’Asia Gregg dropping two and then Georgia Amoore nabbing the final two points of the game from the charity stripe.

This was a real step up and cover your teammate sort of game. There is little doubt that UVA was thinking that no Kitley meant a critical ACC win and a significant victory over a ranked opponent. Well, the Hokies aren’t ranked because Liz Kitley is their only high-quality player. This win was due to a full out effort by every Hokie who played.

Game States to Note

Kenny Brooks played 7 players in the game. Clara Ford played for a minute to give, I think, Georgia Amoore a bit of a rest after a few hard plays.

G Takes the Top Scoring Honors

Amoore had a bit of a slow start but turned on the jets for the final three quarters. She had to. Normally as the point guard, she doesn’t shoot more than she needs to. Well, tonight she needed to. Georgia put 22 points up (4 threes in that 16 shot mix and 4 of 4 from the foul line), nabbed 4 rebounds, and seemingly split the point duties with Kayana Traylor.

Taylor Soule had Herself “A Game”, Too

Soule dropped in 18 points. She was 8 of 15 from the floor, and marked a double-double with 10 boards, she played 37 minutes and had to be helped off the court with a mild something with a leg or ankle near the end. It was a much needed stand out performance as she was assigned lots of inside work. Her four assists were significant.

Kayana Traylor Also Put Up Double Figures

Traylor did some of this and some of that but mostly what she did do is put up 15 points and was a perfect 6-6 from the charity stripe. KT had one of her best game performances this season, and matched Soule’s 37 minutes on the court.

D’Asia Gregg Sneaks in a Critical Double-Double, Again

Almost flying under the radar, D’Asia Greg put ten points on the board, but also nabbed 10 balls off the board. Some of those 10 rebounds stopped UVA rallies to the basket and snuffed any hope of changing the balance of scoring.

Cayla King Drained Three Critical Three Point Buckets and Played Tough Defense

King dropped in 9 points, all of which were from downtown, and also managed a block and a steal.

Four Players in Double Scoring Figures and Two Double-doubles is Something to Notice

Let’s hope the AP voters notice that this win, without star Center Liz Kitley, means that this team is deep, it’s well coached, and it will find a way to win. This was a really big W for women’s basketball. It checked off all of the tough points on the score card. It was an ACC win. It was a short-handed win with two stars missing from the lineup. AND most importantly, it was a solid victory over the Wahoos, and that’s always satisfying and something good to note.

Next Up, the Hokies are on the road to Coral Gables to take on the Miami Hurricanes on Sunday January 8th. It’s a big game, too. They all are from now on.