The First Question on Everyone’s Mind
Georgia Tech was not expected to be a really huge risk this evening for the Lady Hokies. The Lady Yellow Jackets are a solid team, and came into the contest with a 13-6 record and 4-3 in the ACC. They were a definite risk, but it would have been an upset to beat the 19th ranked Hokies in their own house.
There was a huge ‘but’ in that whole assumption that GT wasn’t super risky, though. What was the status of the starting lineup for the Hokies? There was no hard and fast word on Georgia Amoore’s status, and Cayla King had taken a pretty good shot to the right leg in the last game and her appearance in uniform was not a guarantee, either.
The crowd building and watching the warmups was given a happy answer this evening.
There was a change in the lineup, but it was Olivia Summiel taking a starting role, again. Georgia and Cayla were on the court, warming up, and G seemed particularly springy for pregame shootarounds and stretches.
Warmups Can Give Away Some Tips on How Things Might Go
As it is in football, it’s really interesting to study the warmups for the teams, and the shoot around sessions before the game. There is usually an informal stretching and shooting set about an hour and a half before the tip-off and then with about 20-30 minutes to go before the start, the team comes out in their game uniforms and does a formal shoot around warmup.
There are just days when no one is hitting the casual stuff, and there is not a ton of emotion going on. That was not the case this evening. It was obvious that having Georgia back, and Cayla being functional was important to the entire team. They looked pretty good in their gray with orange lettering and numbers, and everyone seemed relaxed and focused. They also were smiling, encouraging each other, and keeping things moving with pace. It was good to see because that sort of thing is pulled right into the game, especially in the first few possessions, that set the tone for the contest.
The Hokies Took Over the First Quarter and Never Trailed
Well, Liz started things off, after the opening tip got a bit interesting, until Georgia snapped off a pass to Liz who promptly drained the shot. Cha-ching! The band was back together, and you’d never have thought that Georgia had been out with an injury. Liz buried a 2nd one with another Amoore A, before Georgia Tech scored a bucket. That’s as close as Georgia Tech got the entire game.
After a missed attempt at a trey by Georgia (No worries though. G got her groove back a bit later.) Tilly Ekh pulled down a defensive rebound on a missed GT attempt, and Georgia got the ball to Olivia Summiel who buried one from downtown to pick up her teammate.
By the end of the first quarter, Georgia finally connected from downtown, and connected from inside to get her blood flowing. Liz Kitley was en fuego with a nearly impossible to comprehend 8 of 8 from the floor. And Georgia found her shovel because she was feeding anyone that she could see with an open shot. She had six in the quarter with her final one being a nice dish to Liz for the closing score.
The Theme Remained the Same in the 2nd
Kenny Brooks just kept the bench folks moving in and out of the game not just to get playing time, but Georgia Tech has an offense, and they can shoot from both downtown and in close, so it was important to slow that down. Defense was critical the entire game, but they definitely had the capability to cut into the 15-point VT lead if they could get more clear shots at the basket, especially from three-point range.
Liz was relatively quiet scoring in the 2nd, she was 1 for 3 in the quarter and missed a free-throw, but her shooting percentage was off the charts for the half, and her scoring pressure helped to loosen things up on the edges because the other players started hitting more but it did take a dry spell for things to get going again. The Jackets closed the gap to 9 in the first 2 minutes of the period when the lid went on for the Hokies and there were a series of fouls called on VT. The ice broke for the Hokies with a 2-pointer from Liv Summiel, and a layup by Tilly Ekh.
The remainder of the period there was an accordion effect between 10 and 13 points until late when the Hokies went dry, and got hit with strange foul calls, again. With 52 second left in the half, Liz made a very rare miss on a jumper, but a feisty Olivia Summiel stuck herself into the mix, and pulled the ball out to get it to Georgia who drained it for 2, and then Summiel grabbed a defensive rebound that made it down the court in time to get Georgia a final shot at 2, which she buried before the buzzer. The Hokies went to the locker room with an 11-point lead and nearly all of the momentum.
Up at the half pic.twitter.com/EPVHTCiTTe— Virginia Tech Women's Basketball (@HokiesWBB) January 25, 2024
The Third was Build on the Lead Time
It’d be pretty boring to say that the 3rd quarter was a repeat of the 1st half, faced in the other direction. But sometimes methodical machine can seem a bit boring. In the case of the Hokies steady build up in the 3rd, Hokie Nation heartily approves of building on leads.
Georgia started the scoring with two free-throws, and eventually hitting a three and a two. She dished off 2 more assists in the period and helped get the team out of a few minutes where neither team seemed to be hitting much.
The end result in the third was a slow push pull on the exchange that ended with the Hokies up by 18, and no one scoring in the final minute and 20 seconds.
And Then There Were Sausage Biscuits
Remember that we told you about a Bojangles promotion that promises a sausage biscuit for everyone attending the game if the team scores over 75 points. Well, it’s actually a good strategy because who gets just one, and who doesn’t get something to wash it down, either? But marketing lessons aside, it has become a crowd favorite chant, especially in the 4th quarter. BISCUIT!!! BISCUIT!!! BISCUIT!!!
Well, the BISCUIT went to Liv Summiel when she sank a trey a bit short of the halfway mark of the quarter. The crowd went nuts, but it was probably a double nuts because everyone loves to hear “...FOR THREEEE!!!!!” over the PA System and Liv managed that twice in the game this evening.
Georgia sank two more treys in the period, Tilly grabbed one, and the scoring from various ranges was spread around a bit.
It was an excellent game effort by the team, and certainly given the fact that Georgia had been out for a period and Cayla really wasn’t 100% on that right leg. You could tell it was bothering her in the 2nd half.
Another home dub pic.twitter.com/RmWS0K1Yq3— Virginia Tech Women's Basketball (@HokiesWBB) January 26, 2024
Well, Liz didn’t double-double this evening. Maybe she’s disappointed in some way, but anyone with half a basketball brain is not even close to worried about it. Her shooting performance in the first half was nearly perfection, and her 2nd half work was stellar. Liz played 33 minutes. She finished 13 of 20 for 26 and 3 free throws to make it 29 points for the game. She just missed a double-double by 1. She pulled down 9 total boards (8 DRB, 1 ORB). She also got an assist, a steal, and 2 blocks.
Besides the huge smiles and loud crowd reaction to see a healthy Georgia back in the lineup, having her name back in Significant Stats with a double-double “Georgia’s Way” is super. G got her blood flowing, again in the 1st quarter with a couple of shots and got herself into position to do her stuff as the floor general. She was everywhere on the court, but especially right at the critial time to get off a pass to the open shooter which was often but not exclusively Liz Kitley. Amoore finished with 35 minutes of playing time, was an excellent 9-16 from the floor, and that included 4 treys along with 2 from the charity stripe. What was even better was she paired that 24-point performance with a whopping 13 assists. she also tossed in a rebound and an steal. What a great way to make a critical comeback as the team gets into the stretch before the ACC Tournament.
Another triple down and the bench loves it pic.twitter.com/p7hwxGdrc1— Virginia Tech Women's Basketball (@HokiesWBB) January 26, 2024
We have had several players over the years that I wished had played their entire careers here, at Tech. Liv is the latest of the batch. It’s just a real treat to see her get in to the baseline under the basket and fight for rebounds, snap off great release passes, or drop something into the bucket from the floor. She’s added her downtown capabilities to the Hokies bench and has now started two games for the team. This evening, Liv was just working it both on offense and defense. Folks, she was 5 for 5 from the floor. She took 5 shots and hit all five of them, two of which were three pointers. Besides the 12-point effort for her 20 minutes on the floor, Summiel came within one of a double-double grabbing 9 rebounds, and 2 of those were some really impressive offensive rebounds under heavy pressure. With work effort like that she’s going to see even more time on the floor. Perfect. Now someone tell us that she has a COVID year of eligibility and can stay another season, please.
Liv hits from the outside— Virginia Tech Women's Basketball (@HokiesWBB) January 25, 2024
» ACCNX pic.twitter.com/IU0CxDkV1k
Carleigh Wenzel, Matilda Ekh, Clara Strack, Cayla King, and Carys Baker
Y’all know the format, but the players in single digits are all significant contributors in some way and deserve to be mentioned. Wenzel was off the bench fast and often over the course of the game. She ended up with 25 minutes of playing time, scored 7 points on a grand total of 6 shots and if she had just hit one of those threes (they were close) she’d have been in double digits. Carleigh also had a rebound and an assist. Ekh took a grand total of 6 shots of which 1 hit from three. She finished with 6 points, 3 rebounds, a block, a steal, and 2 assists. Clara Strack played two roles in her 15 minutes. She did the power forward pair up with Liz. Both of them on the court together are intimidating. Strack was 3 of 6 from the floor, with 3 rebounds, and a steal. This is the block of the century. Strack had two of those.
Not in Clara's house ♀️ pic.twitter.com/MpSVctthfA— Virginia Tech Women's Basketball (@HokiesWBB) January 25, 2024
Cayla was a bit off shooting this evening. She got 2 rebounds a steal and an assist. Her 23 minutes were doing her usual defensive work and not stressing that leg was important since the team needs her to be healthy down the stretch. Carys Baker played only 6 minutes but managed to sink one from downtown and gab a board.
Note: Pictures from the game are up on Facebook:
The Next One is a Huge Home Game
It’s important to remember that Tech needs to have as many healthy players as they can get for Thursday evening. They take a trip to Syracuse which is always difficult, but then come home for a hugely important game against the Lady Hoos. They need both, a win at ‘Cuse to get some road win momentum back, and then win the home contest against UVA.