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#14 Virginia Tech Ends 2023 With Historic 91-41 Rout of Pittsburgh

Georgia Amoore 1 VT Pitt 2023 From VT

After a 10-day layoff, the 14th ranked Virginia Tech Hokies finally returned to the hardwood for a New Years Eve showdown against the 6-8 Pittsburgh Panthers.

The last time the Hokies were in Cassell Coliseum, they trailed by one point at the end of the first quarter against the William & Mary Tribe behind a horrendous 1-12 three-point shooting display, turning things around soon after for a comfortable victory. It’s safe to say the Hokies began their ACC opener with a different kind of energy, claiming a 17-point lead in just the first 10 minutes to go up 22-5.

After taking an 18-point lead into halftime, the Hokies once again came out of the locker room scorching hot, going 20 for 28 from the field, and 9 for 12 from long range to outscore Pitt 57-25 and finish off a 91-41 victory over Pitt. The 50-point margin also became the largest margin of victory for the Hokies in an ACC game in program history.

The Hokies cruised behind Georgia Amoore and the steady scorers surrounding her. In fact, six Hokies notched double-figure points in an efficient shooting night of 52% from the field, 48% from three-point range, and 90% from the free-throw line.

The Panthers tried man-to-man and a 2-3 zone, but nothing they threw at the Hokies slowed them down. Against a man to man defense, Virginia Tech took advantage of having superior one-on-one post scorers in Elizabeth Kitley and Olivia Summiel, as well as running Georgia Amoore led pick and roll actions.

When they switched to a zone, the Hokies found the high post, where they could kick it out and swing the ball to their open shooters. So far this season, the two times the Hokies have faced a zone, shooters like Georgia Amoore, Cayla King, Matilda Ekh, and Carys Baker have benefited from their textbook zone breaking scheme and absolutely torched the defenses from long range.

Amoore led all scorers with 20 points, while Ekh dropped 16, King scored 11, and Carys Baker chipped in with 9, all knocking down at least three triples. Beyond the shooters, Liz Kitley still flirted with a double double despite an off night shooting, scoring 10 points and grabbing 9 boards. Olivia Summiel completed a double-double, going for 10 points and 11 rebounds on a perfect 4-4 from the field. Finally, Carleigh Wenzel rounded off the Hokies double-digit scorers, dropping 11 points to go along with four assists.

While Virginia Tech’s stars and starters were good as always, their bench continued to impress, outscoring Pittsburgh’s bench 32-9. Obviously, this bench production could be slightly skewed because Kenny Brooks got a chance to empty his bench in the fourth quarter. Nonetheless, the improved play of the Hokies' role players over the last month has Virginia Tech starting to show the fullness of their immense potential.

It is often said that stars win you games, but teams win you championships. Early in the season, the Hokies sometimes looked like a team carried by stars, Elizabeth Kiltey and Georgia Amoore. As the year has gone on, the surrounding players have continued getting better. This shouldn’t exactly come as a surprise due to how new so many players are to the program, whether from high school or the transfer portal. But it still is quite an exciting development for the Hokie faithful, who have championship aspirations.

In contrast, it seems as if the Pittsburgh Panthers have some problems to solve, and they have to do it pretty fast, as two of their next three games are against ranked teams. The easy evaluation for the Panthers loss is their inability to knock down shots, and that certainly isn’t incorrect. Beyond leading scorer Liatu King’s 19 points, which is right on par with her average, no one could buy a bucket in the Blacksburg nets all afternoon.

But the Panthers New Year’s resolution really needs to be learning how to defend the three-point line. The Hokies torched them, knocking down 14 of their 29 attempts from downtown. Unfortunately for the Panthers, this was not the first time they’ve lost to a barrage of threes. Pittsburgh has the 11th worst three-point defense in the country, giving up eight threes a game at a 35% clip, while only knocking down 4.6 threes at a 31% clip, themselves. This needs to change, especially when entering conference play in a loaded ACC featuring three-point snipers more dangerous than almost anyone they have played all throughout their non-conference schedule.

The Hokies will look to start 2-0 in ACC play and 1-0 in 2024 as they travel just a couple hours south to face the Wake Forest Demon Deacons on Thursday, January 4th. Take care of business there and a huge showdown with undefeated NC State looms that should give us the early favorite for the ACC title in 2024.

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