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#11 Virginia Tech Hokies Beat the #22 NC State Wolfpack in Raleigh for the First Time: 73-61

The Hokies went on the road for the home stretch last few games of the season. The Wolfpack was ranked 22nd and more than that Tech has never won against them in Raleigh. Tech, in fact, rarely defeats NC State. This time was different. Amoore and Kitley lead again. Big win! GO HOKIES!!!!

NCAA Womens Basketball: ACC Conference Tournament Semifinals - Virginia Tech v NC State
Last season, the Hokies couldn’t break through at NC State. Tonight, things changed.
William Howard-USA TODAY Sports

Sometimes Things Just All Come Together, Just Right

The Lady Hokies traveled to Raleigh to face the NC State Wolfpack with little historical hope of coming away with a win. Tech’s ambitions in the ACC just kept running into the Red and White sneering wolf with the goofy hat since joining the ACC. Last season the teams met three times, and three times the Hokies walked off the court disappointed. What was even worse is that the overall record for the programs was a disappointing 2-26 before this evening. Tech just couldn’t seem to figure it out. Mark this down, maybe... just maybe they have now. That’s because the Hokies took to the court, with a brand-new AP poll ranking up to 11th from 13th and in possession of a solid 18-4 record. ACC wins still could mean a slight chance at a regular season championship, but more importantly it could mean a double-bye for the ACC Tournament which would give the team some important rest before Selection Sunday for the NCAA Tournament.

It looks like the Hokies took the trip across the state line with some serious intent to do some fixing of that Win-Loss fiasco.

The Hokies Led Wire to Wire

The game started off with Liz Kitley putting in a short jumper for two after an Amoore miss and a Cayla King offensive rebound. Putbacks are critical in tight games, and that sort of aggressive play was going to be necessary given the tendency for Tech’s opponents to play rough and tumble.

The first quarter managed to be mostly the North Carolina Hokie contingent scoring with Cayla King sinking a few threes, and Kitley pumping them in from short range. There were some important free throws put in by D’asia Gregg and Kayana Traylor. But Georgia was having some difficulty with her sights, and even keeping a handle on the ball. She was pulled for a minute or two, perhaps to give her a chance to focus, because when she stepped back on to the court she immediately hit from downtown. The Hokies went to the break circle after the first quarter with a four point lead that had shrunk down to 3 for a troublesome few seconds. No one expected a run away, but Coach Kenny Brooks probably spent some talk time trying to keep momentum up. The Hokies were in small lead exchange mode and a slip could mean a rapid turn of events.

The Second quarter started off with a flurry of steals and missed shots by Taylor Soule, Cayla King, and Liz Kitley until finally Soule’s last steal resulted in an ice breaking bucket off the glass. The Hokies kept up the defensive pressure and managed to nibble away at the exchanges of baskets to push out to an 11-point lead at the 1:17 mark of the quarter on a Cayla King drop in from beyond the arc. Tech maintained that buffer until the 1st half buzzer sounded, and the teams headed off the court for the halftime break. The Hokies looked up at a 2nd quarter split of 7 points (17-10) against an aggressive offense and solid defense.

The Second Half Was All About Just Staying Ahead

So many times, a good basketball team will leave the first half with a full head of steam and too much ego and over confidence brewing. It of looked like that in the beginning of the 3rd quarter for the Hokies. They seemed to be in cruise control mode, trading baskets and their lead shrinking and growing by 2 points here and three points there. So much so that they seemed to get lulled to sleep a bit, by the last 2 minutes of the 3rd, the Wolfpack was steadily nibbling away at that lead, and shocked the Hokies awake as the clock ticked 1:43 and the lead had magically shrunk to 2 points. OOPS!!! That was way too close for a very dangerous team like the Wolfpack. The defense stiffened at that point, D’asia Gregg hit a 3-pointer to push the margin to 5 points, an NC State foul on Kitley was rewarded with two buckets from the charity stripe by Liz, and Georgia Amoore who had steadily been scoring baskets, sort of under the radar, drained a three to end the quarter. That put the Hokies back into a more comfortable 10-point lead before the critical final period started. NC State did outscore the Hokies 20-19 for the quarter but that one point only nipped at the Hokies’ overall advantage.

The 4th quarter wasn’t too exciting for the Wolfpack. They only got below a double-digit Hokie lead twice. The closest NC State ever came was a -7 points at the 7:18 mark of the period, and just could never get any sort of run momentum going. By the three-minute mark, the Hokies had pushed the lead out to a bouncing basketball between 17 and 12 points. The game ended with a final NC State three pointer, but it was way too little too late.

The Hokies won for the first time in Raleigh, and for only the 3rd time in 29 games. It was quite a victory under very tough conditions.

Significant Stats

Georgia Amoore

G hasn’t been at the top of the scoring list in quite a while. She did have a bit of a slow start in this one, but it didn’t take her more than a period to figure it out. After a short break on the bench to catch a breath and talk over some things with the coaching staff, she promptly scored from downtown. That pretty much ended her multigame scoring slow down. Georgia ended the game with a team leading 27 points. She was 5-11 from beyond the arc, and 11-21 overall. Amoore also pushed out 6 assists and her defense was solid with 3 rebounds, a steal, and a block.

Elizabeth Kitley

You have to hand it to Kitley. Everyone is trying to stop her. He was shoved, smacked in the face, pushed, challenged, and pressured. She still managed a double-double with all of her shots from the paint or the charity stripe. She scored 25, total points, with 14 rebounds. The important thing was six of those boards were offensive rebounds that kept scoring chances alive. She was a much better 7-8 from the free-throw line (Which also shows you how tough the Wolfpack was playing her.) She even chipped in with 2 assists and slapped away three shots.

As they noted on Twitter, the Amoore-Kitley scoring machine accounted for 52 of Tech’s 73 points. When Ms. Inside and Ms. Outside are hot, no one can beat this team.

Cayla King

Cayla was the only other Hokie in double digits. She put up 3 of 5 from three-point range and added a free-throw to make it a 10-point scoring total. She also grabbed a steal. But her main role seemed to be offsetting Amoore from deep, and defense. Unfortunately, she kept getting drubbed for fouls (4) and ended up on the bench for 10 minutes during that dicey stretch in the 3rd quarter. That’s the price that you pay in basketball when you play aggressive defense. She played a solid game and it was nice to see her 3-pointer working, again.

Kayana Traylor, Taylor Soule, and D’asia Gregg

These three players contributed more than just the points put in (4, 2, and 5, respectively). Traylor also pulled down 3 rebounds. Soule was also a big contributor on defense with 6 rebounds, and three steals. Gregg played aggressively inside, grabbing 8 rebounds.

All in all Coach Brooks played an extremely short bench. It was a starters (and that includes the #1 and #2 bench positions) sort of game with no one reaching down to pull folks off the bench for playing time.

The Hokies Have Five More

The team is down to the final five regular season games. The next three are at home. Florida State comes to town next, on February 12th. Duke shows up on the 16th. Then NC State comes back looking for revenge on the 19th. The Hokies finish on the road against North Carolina and the regular season finale at Georgia Tech.

Let’s leave you with a little reminder of who scored the most points today...

It’s going to be an exciting sprint to the finish.

As Always,