A Program Record Crowd Cheers on the Hokies to a Sweep
Before we get into the individual accomplishments, and the other details of this great game (it was fun, folks... trust me I was there...) we need to give a shout out to Hokie Nation because the Cassell was packed for the ladies this afternoon. It’s a good night when the team draws around 2-3k or so, but Hokie Nation came up big to say how much they love this team to the tune of 6,413 screaming fans. The team appreciated it, and Georgia Amoore (who is normally not an over-the-top tweeter even was appreciative in person).
THANK YOU EVERYONE WHO CAME & @CassellGuardVT y’all were huge for us— Georgia Amoore (@georgia_amoore) February 19, 2023
So, this is why Georgia was so thrilled.
Tech Paid Tribute to the Seniors
Senior Night dub pic.twitter.com/EApkXSnfHC— Virginia Tech Women's Basketball (@HokiesWBB) February 19, 2023
There might be some lingering eligibility to talk about, but let’s concentrate on finishing the 2023 season because this team is going to show up big in the post season tournaments. It was not the last women’s basketball game in the Cassell if this team has anything to say about it. Congratulations go out to: Taylor Geiman, D’asia Gregg, Cayla King, Elizabeth Kitley, Kayana Traylor, and Taylor Soule. This will be a season to remember for Hokie Nation!
Now on to the Deets
To say that Tech just never really has a chance against NC State might be a fair statement; if you are living in the past. The 2022/2023 season has crashed through that “just not enough” barrier, and the trip to Raleigh two weeks ago was no fluke. That was a 73-61 Virginia Tech road victory and a vindication of a team that was getting pinned by media types as being all finesse and no tough. How does six wins in a row against teams aiming for the head sound? Today, NC State came out to play physical basketball and really shove the Hokies around. Well, the Hokies shoved right back, and it all started with the first quarter give and take.
The First Quarter was a Physical Tussle and a Duel
G opened the scoring with a 2-pointer after both teams had starting misses. NC State kept answering though, and Georgia was having a bit of a shooting problem with a support sleeve on her right arm and a bit of an odd spin on the ball. Ms. Outside was going to have to pull it in closer a bit to make sure to sink her shots. Meanwhile Ms. Inside, Liz Kitley was dropping in multiple 2-pointers from the paint and underneath. D’asia Gregg drained Tech’s first 3-pointer as the clock was winding down to the halfway point in the quarter. A worrisome short series of missed attempts with corresponding Wolfpack scores evened the score up 13 all at the 3:42 mark, and refocused Tech. Georgia sank her first 3-pointer with almost 2 minutes and a few seconds left in the period. The unfortunate part was the gap that had widened back to five on 2 KT free throws, was erased by two NC State threes. Tech took the break with a 1 point deficit (18-19) on an NC State 3 and an Amoore miss at the buzzer. The score was not out of hand, though. Tech was getting the range and more importantly figuring out how to attack the Wolfpack defense and also how to get them to make mistakes on offense.
Besides the Lead, Everything Changed in the 2nd
The quarter didn’t open anywhere near where it closed. NC State was looking confident and managed to sink two short baskets while Tech was trying to figure out where the basket was for the first minute or so. D’asia Gregg woke the Hokies back up by hitting another three to narrow the lead to 2 from five. Then Taylor Soule and D’asia Gregg dropped in 2 points apiece with no answer in exchange from NC State. That evened the score at 25, and a 2-point jumper from Georgia Amoore waved them goodbye.
From that moment on (6:52, 2nd Qtr) the Hokies stood on the gas and started a nice mini run of three baskets 2 from Amoore and 1 from Kitley before NC State managed to score. Tech kept winning exchanges and pushing the score differential out a bit further each minute on the floor. They led by as much as 11 points at the 1-and-a-half-minute mark. The Wolfpack would work to get closer, but every time they threatened something the Hokies would score right back. The half buzzer sounded just after Cayla King put in a nice 2-point bucket assisted by D’asia Gregg. It still wasn’t quite comfortable, but the Hokies owned a 47-36 lead for the break.
The Second Half Was Essentially Keep Away with Baskets
With the advent of the shot clock there are no Dean Smith freezes, but as the 3rd quarter started it became obvious that if Tech just kept their foot on the gas, without going out of control, NC State would not be able to close the gap to a reasonable differential in the period. Tech even widened their lead to 20 points as the halfway point came up and the media timeout was about to be called. They did lose a few points over the next five, but NC State didn’t get any closer than 13 points in the quarter.
The fourth quarter ran pretty much like the third. Tech would push the lead out to as much as 17 points, and the Wolfpack would nibble back with some advantageous plays here and there, but they could never get any sort of rally going, and by the final 2 minutes the Hokies just would never give up much of that 13-point cushion. Head Coach Kenny Brooks subbed in the entire bench at that point, and the door was slammed shut as Maddie Vejsicky grabbed the final missed NC State shot for the closing rebound.
The Buzzer Sounded and the Crowd Erupted
There might have been a few NC State fans in the stands, but you’d have never heard a thing from them. The sad thing is that no one could bring anything resembling a broom in Cassell Coliseum so there was no SWEEP cheering going on. All in all, it was an excellent and dominant two wins for the Hokies. This win should boost them into the top 10, and also help to set the regional positioning and seeding for the NCAA Tournament. It’s still not over, though. There are two more road games against UNC and Georgia Tech to finish the regular season. My guess is both need to be wins to be convincing enough to have the regionals hosted in Blacksburg.
Woo Doggies! We have some serious stats to post up, today! Wow! So, let’s just take them in scoring order and see if there are any Tweets to make this look purdy.
Liz just can’t seem to stay away from double-doubles. She had a game high 24 (11 of 16 from the floor and 2 from the charity stripe) points and pulled down 10 rebounds. That wasn’t the coolest set of numbers, though. We all know stats like that from Liz... What you don’t see too often is 7 blocks! You saw that I didn’t typo it... Liz swatted away 7 shots.
(And no, the official stats show 7 blocks so evidently, they awarded one extra while the Hokie WBB Twitter person got the update.)
G double-doubled the other way this afternoon. What’s that? Georgia scored 15, and then dished out 11 assists. She also grabbed 3 rebounds, but who has time for boards when shoveling the ball around for teammates to score points?
This one to Taylor Soule was flat out beautiful.
Georgia Amoore: QB1 pic.twitter.com/dHX41iJsMY— Virginia Tech Women's Basketball (@HokiesWBB) February 20, 2023
D’Mo put the ball up and used every once of her 28 minutes on the floor. Gregg scored 13 points. She was 5 of 6 from the floor and three of those were from downtown. She also pulled the ball down 9 times (If she’d have been able to play more, I bet she’d have double-doubled, too! She also handed out 3 assists. What a great Senior night for her.
Our one-year graduate student transfer came up big this afternoon, and her contribution through the season will only be truly recognized in her absence. Today she put in 12 points (6-8 from the floor) grabbed a board and an assist. But her primary job was to provide some serious physical inside presence to balance Kitley. Soule can play finesse ball, sure. But her strength is in putting her nose down and getting into the mix, seemingly without fear. She just goes. It makes you wish that her senior night was remembering far more than a single season.
Kayana Traylor, Cayla King, and Taylor Geiman
The only other scoring players were significant contributors in other ways, mainly in defense. It was critical to get NC State pushed out to the perimeter and not allow them quality shots and passes. That takes pure speed, guile, and muscle. These three basketball players contributed to that effort and still managed to make a mark on the score. Traylor put in 6 with 2 free throws in the mix, Cayla King put in two but only made three shot attempts. She grabbed three rebounds, shoveled 2 assists and one stuff. Taylor Geiman played 12 minutes and was a perfect 1 for 1 from downtown.
Next is Chapel Hill and the always dangerous Tar Heels.
We’ll let Liz finish it out for the evening!
And some highlights for those of you who couldn’t see the game.