A Solid Road Win against a Peer Opponent
Rutgers has a decent enough women’s basketball presence, though the 2023/24 season is presenting a bit of a challenge to them in the early going. It certainly looked like a probable win for the Hokies, but the game was on the road, and the Hokies have been knocked down a few pegs in the rankings, (#16) as of the last poll, with some struggles on the road. Now the LSU loss was suspect to many observers, but the win against LIU certainly didn’t merit losing ranking. A win in Piscataway was certainly an important quality point that would give the Hokies a bit of a boost. Frankly, they needed the win, and it needed to be convincing.
In Walked the Monster
The problem was that Rutgers might have been struggling, but they have been reading the box scores and watching the films. Teams that flat out come to the floor ready to fight instead of play basketball have been successful against the more finesse structured Lady Hokies. The monster showed up in the first quarter dressed as a Scarlet Knight.
The scoring was opened by the Hokies with 45 seconds gone off the clock and an early three-point miss by Georgia and a missed layup by Rose Micheaux. Liz Kitley finally dropped one in from short range to get the Hokies on the scoreboard. The problem was that the lid went on the bucket for the next two exchanges, and Rutgers managed to drain a three.
What ensued was an exchange series that looked more like a brawl than a game. In that push pull series, Georgia finally scored from downtown, Tilly Ekh broke her ice with a bucket for 2, Liz dropped in a layup. Luckily the defense was holding, and Rutgers wasn’t scoring much either. For about a minute between 3:34 and 2:29, the Hokies actually trailed by as much as three points but that ended with a Georgia Amoore 2-pointer that ended the scoring for the 1st quarter. No one scored another point for 2 minutes and 10 seconds of the period.
The Monster Ran Away in the 2nd
Now, when G scores the last points of a quarter, the news is usually pretty good, and for the Lady Hokies that would come after Liz tied the game at 15 all with 9:05 on the clock, and it looked like another wrestling match was about to start. Then Matilda “Tilly” Ekh made her presence known, rather emphatically. Ekh grabbed a defensive board, and then promptly drained a three to pull the Hokies ahead in the exchange by more than a bucket. Georgia connected from downtown after Rutgers turned the ball over during a furious missed bucket exchange. Suddenly, in the stroke of two back-to-back trey’s the Hokies found themselves with a lead that they could sustain as the ball advanced and retreated.
Tilly found the range from downtown, again, and pushed the score to 24-15. Rutgers would nibble at that lead with one free throw on two different foul situations, but Tilly hit from downtown again (that was three deep shots in a row) to push the lead out to 27-16. Georgia hit another shot from beyond the arc, and that level of three pointers just has few answers in the playbooks. The half would end over a lengthy dry spell for both teams. In that point desert, Cayla King drained a 3, and Tilly put one in on a layup to end the scoring for both teams for the half. The Hokies had a 14-point lead at 38-24 and a real head of steam as the buzzer sounded the end of the half.
The Second Half Surprise was Named Olivia
With Liz Kitley having some issues on the inside, and Georgia getting into a foul pinch, Kenny Brooks was looking like they might have to turn to the bench to help out in the game. His ready bench players are very capable, and the team is a bit deeper in that area than they were last season with Olivia Summiel, Clara Strack, and Carleigh Wenzel coming in to relieve the starters often. Well, the second half got interesting for the Hokie bench and in particular, Liv Summiel. She drained her first 3 with 3:08 left on the clock for the 3rd, and then pumped in 3 more in the 4th. Summiel was already pulling down important rebounds in the 1st half. It was a double-double for her and that’s pretty exciting.
By the 4th quarter, and with many of the starters out for significant bench time, the Hokies just maintained a 20 point or so gap and slammed the door shut on Rutgers by the middle of the 3rd quarter. It was just a matter of keeping up with the exchange, and responding when the Scarlet Knights looked like they were about to go on a run.
It was a solid road win against a B1G opponent. The Hokies should see some positive poll momentum return after this one.
Matilda “Tilly” Ekh
Tilly was the other surprise performer for the game. She was active on offense and defense, especially from long range. She was 7 of 13 from beyond the arc and hit both of her two pointers. Ekh also grabbed 5 rebounds, 2 of which were offensive for putbacks. She also shoveled out 6 assists and stole the ball once. She led the Hokies’ scoring with 25 points on the evening.
Tilly ‼️— Virginia Tech Women's Basketball (@HokiesWBB) December 17, 2023
4-6 from deep pic.twitter.com/EWbV5xrUSw
Olivia was called on as foul trouble pulled a few of the starters to the bench. She came up big with a double-double performance. As mentioned before, she was 4 of 4 from downtown, and only missed one shot all night. She was even a perfect 2 for 2 from the free-throw line. Summiel’s rebounding was consequential, with 5 of 11 reebs on offense. It was an outstanding 18-point scoring performance.
Liv is having a day— Virginia Tech Women's Basketball (@HokiesWBB) December 18, 2023
» 66 » 45 pic.twitter.com/zTwKAYpRlP
Georgia looks like she might be getting her stroke back. She was shooting 50% (5 of 10) from beyond the arc, and also drained a fun layup that left the defense wondering where she was as the ball drained. Georgia also pushed 8 assists, managed 2 blocks and pulled down 4 boards on defense. Georgia probably would have appreciated not getting so much attention from the zebras, though. She ended the game with 4 PFs and that’s unusual.
She did it again ♀️ pic.twitter.com/7yX2EfgySw— Virginia Tech Women's Basketball (@HokiesWBB) December 17, 2023
BTW: She is getting ready to set another record... natch...
If you are going to have a sort of down day, Liz Kitley’s version of “down” makes everyone else envious. Though she had a lid on the basket for most of the game, and the inside shoving and pushing didn’t help her foul count (3), or her shot quality. Liz did get 5 of 12 to fall, though. She also nabbed 8 rebounds and blocked a shot.
Rose Micheaux and Cayla King were the only other players to score. Micheaux put up 8, with 4 of those coming from the charity stripe. Cayla had 4 points, but the lid was on the bucket for her, and she’ll have to work to re-acquire the range on her shots.
Head Coach Kenny Brooks
Brooks has his 500th win this evening.
Champion. Leader. Coach.— Virginia Tech Women's Basketball (@HokiesWBB) December 18, 2023
Congrats on 500 KB pic.twitter.com/0chqLqqMfC
The Lady Hokies take to Carilion Court at Cassell Coliseum on Thursday to play William & Mary, with a tip-off at 2pm. We’ll try to get there with the cameras, work schedule permitting.