YESSSSS!!!!!! YESSSSSSS!!! YESSSSS!!!
The Virginia Tech Hokies take down the Ohio State Buckeyes in “The Battle in Seattle”!
What can you say, really? The Hokies have never been here before, so the pressure is off, in a way. They knuckled down and beat the OSU full court press with a constant barrage of shots from nearly everywhere. If it wasn’t Cayla King or Georgia Amoore putting it up from outside, it was Liz Kitley patiently working to get position inside and getting the two and even a three-point play here and there, by drawing a foul.
Turn us up!!!!! pic.twitter.com/Qc7AYILW3y— Virginia Tech Women's Basketball (@HokiesWBB) March 28, 2023
Looking at the Game from High Altitude (Kitley level)
The first quarter was probably the service of notice. It was going to be a real fight, and OSU wasn’t going to control the game. It started off with a running exchange, this time, Kayana Traylor drained the first bucket, from downtown no less, to get the scoring started and the clock had barely been ticking. OSU scored two, and Tech scored right back. Cayla King drained her first two 3-pointers in that exchange run and the Hokies managed to maintain an average 4-point lead teetering back and forth until a missed exchange and a missed 3-pointer from King allowed the Buckeyes to pass the Hokies with just under two minutes left in the first quarter. It would end on a missed D’Asia Gregg jumper and a stale taste beginning to creep into the quarter break. Tech was a bit cold, and OSU was heating up and that left the score 25-22, them.
Ten minutes in pic.twitter.com/RxfZ80oAHn— Virginia Tech Women's Basketball (@HokiesWBB) March 28, 2023
The Second Quarter sort of Flipped the Script a Bit
The Hokies remained more than a bit stale, they were defending enough to keep the Buckeyes from running away with the game, but there was a clear lid on the bucket for Tech, and some rallying up was really needed. They managed to keep it within striking distance through the first seven minutes of the quarter. The OSU lead never got more than 5 points, and the good news was Georgia Amoore had finally broken her 3-point hex at the 6:22 mark to put the Hokies up by one. OSU would grab the lead again, but Amoore was finding the range and clawed back some points lost on some exchanges. At the 2:19 mark, G drained a trey that pulled Tech within a bucket, and after Taylor Soule hit a jumper, a foul shot, and another jumper to put the Hokies up for the remainder of the half. The point exchange leveled out at between one and three points, but that was enough to send the Hokies to the locker room for halftime with a narrow but momentum building lead, 48-45.
at the break pic.twitter.com/CHg7nhVzFr— Virginia Tech Women's Basketball (@HokiesWBB) March 28, 2023
The Second Half Was a Snowball Building Mo and Size
The third quarter would end up being the period that determined the final trajectory of the game. Georgia Amoore had finally started scoring significantly. Liz Kitley was finding her seams in the paint, and the Hokies were successfully breaking out of heavy presses to get the ball to the hoop. They were also taking advantage of turnovers and missed shots by OSU. The Buckeyes managed to get within one point, twice. The Hokies rallied every time to fend them off and put some distance between them. The Hokies wouldn’t lead for more than 3 for most of the period, but by the final two minutes, you could feel the momentum shift, and the scoring pushed out to a game relative massive lead of 8 points when Georgia drained one from downtown to close the quarter. It wasn’t quite a finisher. There was plenty of basketball to play. The statement, however, was loud and clear. “You’re going to have to beat us, we aren’t losing!”
And how the Hokies Got to 63 Before the Buzzer Sounded
The fourth quarter was all about just keeping the Buckeyes at a respectable distance and running the clock out. That wasn’t going to be very easy, though. OSU was hungry, they weren’t particularly afraid to foul, their bench was deep, and they were desperate. The fourth started just like the 3rd ended. Tech was winning possession trades by one point or par (because with an 8-point lead, a trade of buckets maintained the delta). This is where it was critical to break the press and get the ball in to Liz to get that short 2-point shot to drain, as many times as they could manage. Georgia would chip in with a 3-pointer from way downtown in the period, but that wasn’t her big contribution for the 4th. She was pure gold from the charity stripe in the final few minutes of the contest. She drained six free throws in a row to keep the Buckeyes far enough away that Kitley’s two misses and two hits from the charity stripe ended the contest.
It was pure magic. What was looking like a real tight battle ended up being a 10-point difference in the end. It was a team effort for Kenny Brooks’s short bench. This team is special, and Hokie Nation knows it.
Stats for the Evening
Ms, Inside played a patient game (all 40 minutes) which was also very physical. Liz put in 25 points and grabbed 12 rebounds for an Elite Eight Double-Double. Not only that but she had 4 blocks, and an assist. She was 7 of 10 from the charity stripe, so someone officious might give her a short lecture about free points. Ultimately, though, it was a super game for Liz. The team was counting on her height differential to get points on the board in tight spots, and she more than answered the call.
G was running a bit cold in the beginning, and most of that was due to the heavy pressure that was put on her. Cayla King and Kayana Traylor helped loosen that up, as well as the effectiveness of getting the ball in to Liz. What ultimately happened though, is Ms. Outside started challenging inside, and then going back to letting it fly from downtown to keep OSU honest. Georgia ended up with 24 points, 2 assists, and 4 rebounds. Her free throw shooting was perfect 6 for 6 at the free throw line which was the final dagger that ended OSU’s hopes for a late game comeback.
T-Soule was critical to the physicality of the offense and put up a nice double figure night with 12 points. She also grabbed four rebounds and an assist. She even stole the ball to stop a big exchange move by the Buckeyes.
It was a double figure night for Cayla. She was pushing hard on defense as well, which eventually bought her a final 5th foul late in the 4th, but before that King did put up 7 attempts, all three pointers, and drained 3. She also hit 3 from the charity stripe awarded for a foul on one of her attempts. So, really, she was 4 of 7 from downtown. It was just a bit harder. Cayla’s role was defensive, again, and that meant pressure. She pulled down 4 boards and ripped off two steals.
Kayana Traylor and D’asia Gregg
KT put up a grand total of three shots for the evening. She played 28 minutes due to some foul trouble but that was a part of this game. Playing defense against a heavy pressing fast running team means you get bit by the whistle more often. Traylor did get 2 assists, a block and 7 points. She was 2 of 2 from the stripe. D-Mo was also primarily defensive and came off the bench to spell Traylor or King for most of her time on the floor. She was also 2 of 2 from the charity stripe and accounted for 4 points.
So, The Team has Until Friday to Bask a Bit
The Hokies will face the LSU Lady Tigers in the Semi-Finals. LSU is no push over and will be as hard to beat as OSU was. They also have a dominating Center, and she’s going to be a challenge for Kitley.
For now, though. Let’s be Happy. The Hokies have never been here before, and I’d have to check to see if anyone else has, either.