The Cassell Still has Magic Doesn’t It?
It wasn’t too long ago that the Hokies got on the bus to drive down to Durham to play the Lady Blue Devils. Duke had been watching Notre Dame’s bench clearing brawl technique for defeating Tech and decided to one up the Irish by draining off all 10 players. They were physically intimidating, committing over 20 fouls and just shoving Liz Kitley and Georgia Amoore around enough to keep them both ineffective from the floor.
As they say, fool me once, and the second time “Have at you! Buddy!” It looks like Head Coach Kenny Brooks had his team prepared and had a game plan to keep the formula from repeating. He used eight players (really only 6 since Ashley Owusu and Taylor Geiman only played a few minutes) and concentrated on defense and rebounding. Tech’s offense successfully screened for Ms. Inside and Ms. Outside enough to give them quality shot attempts. The scored 40 of Tech’s points.
They also played tough defense. There haven’t been too many times this season when Duke scored fewer than 50 points- actually NONE! They scored 50 against UConn and Miami. Not only that, but because of the fouling totals. Duke had the only player who fouled out in the middle of the 4th quarter.
The win was convincing and a serious comeuppance for Duke. It might not change a ton in the ACC standings, but it’s definitely going to make things difficult for them in NCAA seeding. The win also pushes the “Regionals in Blacksburg Button” harder.
This season is not over just yet, though.
This one looked like a slightly lower scoring version of the last one, against Florida State. The Hokies trailed a grand total of 32 seconds of the first minute of the first quarter because Duke sunk the first basket. Kayana Traylor tied it up, and then the Hokies went on a near quarter long scoring tear (well more like a steady rip - the defense was tough on both sides). Amoore, Kitley, Traylor, and Soule kept up the pressure, the defense kept stopping Duke attempts, and snuffing rallies. After Duke scored that initial bucket, the Hokies patiently powered away from them with a 23 to 9 thumping. Duke (women or men) don’t have that happen to them. The score at the end of one quarter would determine the entire outcome of the game. Tech was up 23 to 11 and had an answer for everything that the Blue Devils were trying.
The second and third quarters pretty much ended the game for Duke, especially the 3rd. From the first throw in from the second all Tech had to do was manage the exchanges and keep Duke from gaining any significant ground. That wasn’t easy, mind you. The team is excellent and even a 12-point differential is vulnerable with three quarters remaining.
So, the Hokies, instead of taking their foot off the gas and coasting, mashed it into the floor and accelerated away from Duke in the 2nd quarter. While there were a few wild shots put up by Tech, the Blue Devils scored exactly 3 points in the quarter while Tech dropped in 10. That’s not blazing for either team, mind you, but that 7 points ended up a 19-point difference as the first half buzzer sounded. Duke was going to need to make some serious adjustments at the halftime break because the score was an embarrassing 33-14.
The third quarter was a lather, rinse and repeat of the 2nd for both teams. Duke couldn’t find the bucket and even if Tech was missing occasionally, they were taking so many shots and getting so many boards that the ball eventually drained. Duke did seem to ignite a bit of offense in the final five minutes of the 3rd, but Tech still outpaced them by 6 points so the 19-point halftime lead stretched to 25 at the end of the 3rd. Look, there are some teams, and Duke is one of them, that can overcome that sort of deficit in a quarter. Well, there are actually “blue moons” and this time there was none hovering over Cassell Coliseum this evening.
Duke came out in a furious blend of bully ball and managed to make up some point differential in the 4th quarter. The Hokies got a bit sloppy with their ball handling, and less careful about setting up quality shots so Duke started nibbling at the lead through exchanges. The point change kept dropping a bucket here, a point there, and by the 1:43 mark the Blue Devils had nibbled away the lead to 16 points. Which also was the final score 61-45. Nobody scored for the final minute and a half of the game.
This isn’t a big list of double-digit scorers for this contest. That didn’t seem to be the game plan for this one. Maybe Brooks was giving Amoore and Kitley an opportunity to get a touch of revenge for the last one. Suffice it to say the evening went to the whole team but the scoring kudos went to Ms. Inside and Ms. Outside, again.
Oh gee, another double-double for Liz. Also, she put another 20-point game in her record book. Liz netted 20 points (though missing a few too many free throws (4-7)... frowny face inserted here). She also double-doubled with 11 rebounds, 4 blocks, and 2 steals. She even dished off an assist.
Elizabeth Kitley. pic.twitter.com/fLW2qHQGv7— Virginia Tech Women's Basketball (@HokiesWBB) February 17, 2023
G kept putting them up at a fierce rate. She was shooting a very respectable 4-8 from downtown, and even did some quality inside work with a layup and short jumper or three. That was another Amoore 20-point evening. She also grabbed four defensive boards, dished an assist, and stole the ball twice.
Even the ACC Network Tweeted the reality that Ms, Inside and Ms. Outside were the show this evening.
Taylor Soule had an outstanding game. Yes, she scored 11 points, but she also grabbed 8 rebounds 3 of which were offensive (she’s unafraid to stick her nose in to keep the ball live). Soule also filched the ball 3 times and stuffed one to go with it.
Kayana Traylor, D’asia Gregg, and Cayla King
Traylor only put in four points, but that wasn’t her role this evening. She only put up a grand total of 4 shots. What she did was defend, and more importantly give an alternative point to the team to take the heat off of Georgia. Traylor pumped out five assists and a steal along with her three defensive rebounds. Gregg put up five, and only drained one, but also put in a free throw. She grabbed 6 boards in her 23 minutes on the court. Cayla seemed to be 100 percent defense because she put up a total of 2 shots in the contest. That bucket came from deep.
Overall, the blended effort of a tough defense that screened out and harrassed Duke’s best shooters, was the magic. There is no taking that away from this group. They held Duke to 45 points. That’s their lowest point total this season by 5!
Now the Hokies need to rest up a bit and get ready for the big home finale against NC State.
Some Conference and National Kudos Go Out to Georgia Amoore
National Player of the Week - We’ll leave off the “Co-” well, because...
AND ACC Player of the Week, too!