The Lady Hoos were a Threat for a Little While Then...
Before we get into the particulars of the game, it’s really important to note that the Lady Cavaliers were not going to be an easy team to beat. If this one was played a week ago, there’d be the usual “shoe-in” sorts of analyticals, and some minimizing of the threat the Hoos presented to Tech. But they came off of a 2-3 series from last week where they defeated Florida State (currently #15), and North Carolina (currently ranked 20th).
Yes, they did lose to Pitt at home but that was a low scoring 4-point difference. The Wahoos were only 10-10 and 2-7 in the conference, but momentum late in the season for a struggling team can make them very dangerous. They are trying to make post season tournaments just like every other team with a record and enough games left to make a difference.
The Hokies knew that they were going to have a game on their hands and, for the most part, came prepared to dish out another ‘L’ to the visiting Cavaliers. Well, the Lady Cavs are heading back up 81 and around Afton Mountain on 64, to think about maybe plotting some revenge as the season ends. Tech is going to John Paul Jones Arena on March 3rd to try and work a repeat to close the regular season. All indications from this one are that it’s going to be a tough game.
Let’s Talk Quarters - The First was NOT Dominant for the Hokies
We are talking about feisty play and the first quarter was dominated by lots of physicality under the boards, and even moving the ball. The Hoos played a quick moving floating zone that swapped double teams inside and outside. Those tactics worked. Sometimes... but like always if you double up Liz Kitley, Matilda Ekh, or Georgia Amoore will shake free and make your defense pay. This is what happened for a big chunk of the game but was established as the pattern in the 1st. The scoring started off with UVA finally sinking a layup at the 8:54 mark, after a few misses by both teams. In looking at the scoring, that was the first and the last time that the Hoos led. Liz drained a jumper (assist by G) on the exchange possession for the 2-2 tie, and after a Liv Summiel rebound, Georgia got into the points act by draining a three. Then it was off to the races and the Hokies stayed just ahead of the Hoos for the remainder.
Tilly checked in with her first trey after two Kitley free-throws, and UVA kept narrowing the lead a bit, just to have someone in Chicago maroon, hit a shot that got the buffer back. The problem was that Tech could just never put the Hoos away. The lead never got better than 6, and a few unbalanced possessions resulted in a single point between the two with about 2 minutes left in the quarter. Liz and Georgia’s 2-pont buckets bracketed some nice defensive work and some shooting misses by the Wahoos. The quarter closed with Tech up by 3; 21-18, and the Lady Cavaliers had some ideas about repeating the FSU and UNC feats.
After 10 in Cassell pic.twitter.com/4QLEQekPjV— Virginia Tech Women's Basketball (@HokiesWBB) February 1, 2024
The Second Quarter Started “Kinda” Wrong, and Then Went “Kinda” Right
UVA had the possession arrow for the opening of the 2nd and took full advantage racing in for a quick 2-pointer that re-narrowed the lead to 2 points. At about the 9-minute mark, the thought that the Hokies were about to lose the lead crossed more than a few minds. Then UVA missed a 3-point attempt, Clara Strack grabbed an offensive board off of a missed Cayla King attempt, and Matilda Ekh buried her feed. It was a classic lesson in an offensive rebound and a putback making a major difference in the game. Tech was up by 4, forced a turnover and converted it into 2 more from Ekh in the paint.
Georgia drained another one from downtown. Carys Baker did, too and in between and on the other side, Liz kept dropping in duces. Tech would hit a dry spell, with a frustrating lid on the bucket, but they had managed to build up enough of a lead at 7-9 points that the Hoos could only shrink that to 3 as the half began to come to an end. Kitley finished up the scoring for the quarter and reset the Tech lead to 5; 46-41. UVA was still hanging around, and the dry spells were still plaguing the Hokies.
Up at the break ✊ pic.twitter.com/OulCAu7Xop— Virginia Tech Women's Basketball (@HokiesWBB) February 1, 2024
The 3rd Quarter was a Whole Different Basketball Game
No one really knew what to expect as the 3rd quarter buzzer sounded. The specter of the potential of the Wahoos making a major run on the Hokies was sort of looming in the back of everyone’s heads. Tech had closed out the 2nd on a few rescue shots, but by and large the final few minutes of the half were a series of frustrating misses and turnovers on, frankly, questionable foul calls. The third starting off the way the 2nd ended was fully expected.
Whatever coaching up Kenny and coaches did at the halftime break put a charge back into the Amoore-Kitley combination. Georgia already had 9 Assists on the stat sheet in the 1st half, and she was ready to push that higher. Liz was ready to oblige her by scoring for her. But G wasn’t finished shooting, either. In fact, she started the monster 3rd quarter run with a 2-pointer. Kitley followed soon after. Then the Tech defense started taking over. Liv Summiel blocked a shot, Matilda Ekh swiped the ball, Georgia swiped one, too. Then Ekh checks in with a big block. And in the meantime, on offense, Liz and G, with one from Tilly, kept up the scoring pressure.
The quarter ended soon after Cayla King dropped in a three from deep downtown with 42 ticks on the clock. And then no one in particular managed to do much more so the buzzer sounded on a 15-point Tech lead; 63-46.
The Fourth Quarter was All About Bacon and Sausage Biscuits
There are two big sponsors of the women’s program, one we already know about is Bojangles and the free sausage biscuit for scoring over 75 points. The other one is from Smithfield and offers a bacon coupon (Have you seen the price of a pound of bacon? Nice promo!) if two free-throws are missed. Tonight, there was lots of pork products to be handed out by the sponsors. Lady Hoo Paris Clark ignominiously gifted everyone with a coupon for bacon (Hoos are good for something after all... [insert winky face here]).
Our very own Georgia Amoore graced the crowd with sausage biscuits for dropping in two baskets from the charity stripe, and that also closed out the scoring for the game for both teams.
In the middle of the 2nd and 3rd most important events of the game, both teams nibbled, went dry, nibbled, shot free throws, and the Hoos actually managed to outscore the Hokies 17-13. Not that it mattered all that much. The 3rd quarter, the Hoos had managed a grand total of 5 while the Hokies put up 17. There just wasn’t enough time left on the clock for the Hoos to manage to do more than play hard, and they did. Right up to the end, they pestered, slapped, pressed, pushed, and covered the Hokies. It was all for naught, though.
The Hokies won and managed to do it by leading for nearly 39 minutes of a 40-minute game.
The Statistics Stuff
Before we launch into the scoring and stuff, it’s really important to mention the players who put significant time on the floor but didn’t score all that much. They deserve to go first in this one, because Tech hit several dry spells in this game, and defense suddenly became seriously significant. So did offensive support to get as many put backs on the boards as possible.
Olivia Summiel and Cayla King
Liv didn’t score this evening. in her 33 minutes, she took a grand total of 2 shots from the field and received no trips to the charity stripe for all the hits that she took. Liv did push out 3 Assists and had an offensive rebound. It was her pressure, 6 defensive boards, and 2 blocked shots that kept the Hoos from finding any momentum during critical segments of several periods. Cayla did take 7 shots, and managed a 3 and a 2, but the reality is that Cayla King is the Queen of Hokie Defense. She had 4 personals (some were totally inscrutable) to show for how hard she was pushing to keep the Hoos off balance and away from taking quality shots. She also took some hits that eventually ended up with a trip to the charity stripe and she was a perfect 2-2 from there.
Carleigh Wenzel, Carys Baker, and Clara Strack
Carleigh, Carys, and Clara all contributed for their time on the floor. Carleigh came in to replace Cayla and picked up where Cayla left off. She had three defensive rebounds, and an assist. Carys also had 3 boards and an assist, but also added 5 points from the floor with a nice 3 being drained at a momentum breaking point. Clara only had a few minutes on the court but was exceedingly effective with her time pulling down 2 offensive boards, and a defensive rebound. She also pulled off one of her emphatic blocked shots. When she’s put in with Kitley it’s exceedingly difficult for the opposition to deal with. It’s something that Coach Brooks might be saving for tournament time.
Are you tired of this?
Another double-double. Liz, please bore us like this every single day. Liz was pure Kitley for this one. She did have a few dry spells as the double teams sometimes got her shot flow off, but Liz was a scoring machine in the Cassell this evening but 33 points with 18 boards is amazing, even for her. The big thing in the rebound department was the fact that 6 of them were OFFENSIVE boards. That’s going to be critical to accomplish as the competition gets tougher and the tournament pace picks up. Putbacks can mean the difference between winning and losing. You can add that to her 12 defensive rebounds and 3 blocked shots. Liz had a big game for the Hokies, and we noticed even if the Clark fanboi club won’t.
So, Liz pulls down another double-double and what does Georgia do with that? She’s responsible for feeding Liz most of those opportunities, and so put up her own double-double her way. Georgia ended the game with the final two points bringing her total for the evening to 20 points, she was 6-10 from 2-point range, and even if she wasn’t pleased with her percentage from 3, she did drain 2 beautiful shots that clobbered UVA momentum. Well, points weren’t all of what Georgia was doing, she was dishing off assists. G ended the evening with 14. She had 2 boards (one of each), and a steal on defense.
Another media break » 40 ⚔️ » 31— Virginia Tech Women's Basketball (@HokiesWBB) February 1, 2024
G's got 10 & Liz 16 pic.twitter.com/GKxrRB7iHV
Tilly keeps checking in with better and better numbers, and longer times on the floor. She played 36 of the 40 minutes of a game. She kept draining threes at critical points when the Hoos were closing gaps and rallying up. Ekh ended the game with 13 points, an assist, and 2 rebounds (one of each as well). She also came up big in floor defense with a block and 2 steals. It was an excellent outing for her.
Tilly Time ⌚️— Virginia Tech Women's Basketball (@HokiesWBB) February 1, 2024
She hits again and is into double figures pic.twitter.com/FDAYCPqeSB
The Overall Summary of the First Commonwealth Clash of 2024
This was not a push over cupcake game. UVA came south over the Blue Ridge to play hard and try their best to win this. They will do it again in their house. It’s going to be tough for them, though. The Hokies are building momentum going into the final stretch before the tournaments.
There are three games left in Cassell Coliseum. There are 8 games left, and the road trips are to daunting foes like North Carolina, NC State, Louisville and Notre Dame. Of course, the final three home games are against UNC, Duke, and Boston College. That’s not a basketball schedule, it’s a minefield.
UVA played a tough game, and presented a defense that Tech is going to see repeated. We won’t talk about the officiating in this one, just that it was disappointing, and leave it at that.
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