It was an absolutely beautiful afternoon in Blacksburg. This was the first Monday after the fall back from Daylight Savings time, so arriving at Cassell Coliseum at 3:15 or so meant that it was evening. The women’s and men’s double-header was going to be a royal headache in the parking lot between games. Other than that painful thought, though, it was all smiles. Nobody really seriously doubted the outcome of this one. It was just going to be a matter of how big the win was going to be. At least that’s what most everyone encountered was thinking that.
It might have been a bit unfair, if the results hadn’t been right on track with those pregame thoughts. There was a very respectable crowd for an opening game for the ladies. The student section was stocked up with the Cassell Guard, and the Highty-Tighties were the pep band again this season.
It wasn’t “electric” (whatever that really means) but it was loud and thrilled to have the Lady Hokies back on the court for another season.
In general, the game proceeded pretty much as nearly everyone predicted. The Hokies scored first, and just out paced High Point. The big debut of the full lineup was the big news of the show. We all knew that Liz Kitley, Georgia Amoore, and Cayla King were going to be starting, but the mystery was who Coach Kenny Brooks was going to start with the returning starting trio. As we suspected in the roster preview, Matilda Ekh (transfer from Michigan State) and Rose Micheaux (transfer from Minnesota) rounded out the starting five and played most of the 1st period.
There just weren’t any surprises. We did see Kenny Brooks use almost all of his available bench players. Primary ready bench players Carleigh Wenzel and Olivia Summiel each played a solid 19 and 20 minutes each and scored 11 points between them. Brooks even pulled Amoore for more than her usual less than five minutes, and future Center Clara Strak spelled Kitley for 10 minutes putting in 2 points and pulling down 2 boards.
It was a great first game start for what is going to be a pretty brutal next few days on the road with tournament face offs against the likes of Iowa and LSU. This team, if it can maintain the crisp confidence and improved inside muscle from Liz Kitley and a few new moves from Amoore. Hey, Kenny had Cayla playing Point Guard for the last quarter while
Georgia took a breather.
The Notable Performances and Stats for the Evening
Elizabeth “Ms. Double-Double” Kitley
Liz started the game with the first score, and kept up the pressure until the 2nd half, where she ended up on on the bench for a good portion of the two periods. Liz did put 26 minutes on the clock, but she was pulled enough that it held her stats down. If she’d played the full 40 minutes, they’d have been nutso. Kitley double-doubled again with a total of 27 points on 12 two-pointers and 3 free throws. She was 12 of 17 from the floor and a perfect three for three from the charity stripe. Liz pulled down 11 boards with 5 of them being offensive put back opportunities. She did get called for two personal fouls which probably means she’s been hanging with Cayla. Kitley also blocked two shots. It was a good confidence builder, and High Point’s inside players weren’t particularly intimidated, though they were surly overmatched.
Our new international talent, this time from Sweden by way of Michigan State, ended up putting up a similar floor time to Liz Kitley and 15 total points with 3 trey’s drained and 4-5 from the charity stripe. It was a pleasant surprise to see her drain those three-point shots, which means Coach Brooks has at least three hot-handed outside shooters in the starting offense. Ekh pulled in 5 rebounds and nabbed the ball once. It was a solid start and she seemed to slide right into place.
Georgia Amoore and Cayla King
Georgia put up 14 points with 6 of that coming from downtown, and several runs at some nice crossing lay-ups on breaks in from the perimeter. Georgia grabbed three rebounds and was credited with a steal. But more importantly she was credited with 9 assists, so she nearly double-doubled the other way. Cayla also put in 14 points, with 2 free throws made and she was 4-7 from three-point range. King’s defense was forceful, she did get called for three personals but that included 2 blocked shots and 2 rebounds. Cayla did get some time at point and managed 3 assists to go with her point total.
The Others from the Bench Got Time and Points
Rose Micheaux (6), Carleigh Wenzel (7), Olivia Summiel (4), Carys Baker (3), Clara Strack (2), and Samyha Suffren (2) all scored the listed points. Suffren only got a 3-minute opportunity and made the most of it by drawing a 2 shot foul. Summiel blocked a shot, grabbed 8 rebounds, and dished out 2 assists. Wenzel looks like she could make a breakthrough with a solid 19 minutes on the court. Besides her seven points which included a 3, she led the team in blocked shots with 4.
It was a dominant performance by the Lady Hokies.
Their next game isn’t going to be so easy, though. Thursday evening at 8:00 PM, the Lady Hokies face off against the Iowa Lady Hawkeyes, and Caitlin Clark. The Hokies shouldn’t be intimidated, at all. They never got a chance to square up against Iowa last season so it will be an interesting game.
We will be watching and check back in with a game report.