Photo Credit: Liam Sment
Kenny Brooks and Co. could taste victory as the Hokies held onto a fifteen-point lead over the Golden Eagles with 2:03 to play.
Then disaster struck, as Marquette embarked on an explosive 14-2 run in less than ninety seconds capped off by two straight threes from Lauren Van Kleunen.
Suddenly, the Hokies’ lead was cut back down to three with only thirty-five ticks left on the clock as memories of Virginia Tech’s late game miscues during the team’s January losing streak began to appear.
A miss from Elizabeth Kitley with ten seconds left appeared to open the door for Marquette, but Cayla King swarmed to the paint to snag the offensive board before anyone else could.
After being fouled, King sank two free throws to ice the first NCAA tournament victory of the Kenny Brooks era at VT.
Seven seed Virginia Tech defeated 10 seed Marquette on Sunday afternoon, 70-63, earning the Hokies a date with 2 seed Baylor in the second round of the NCAA Women's Tournament.
“Total team effort, [I’m] very proud,” Kenny Brooks said after the victory. “This goes a long way for our program, where we’re trying to go, and it was a really good win for us.”
The Hokies got out to a rough start in the game, turning the ball over three times in the first five and half minutes while shooting a measly 29% from the field in the first quarter.
After making a few adjustments during the first media timeout, Virginia Tech found its bearings and finished the first quarter with a 6-0 run.
The Hokies really started to get things clicking in the second quarter, shooting 50% overall in the quarter, including two threes. Virginia Tech combined that sharpshooting with suffocating defense, forcing seven Marquette turnovers in the quarter.
A sensational buzzer-beating three from Georgia Amoore extended the Hokies lead to eleven going into halftime, 32-21.
Both sides went back-and-forth in the third quarter, but Marquette out-scored Virginia Tech by two in the quarter to cut the Hokies lead to nine going into the final ten minutes.
The Golden Eagles began to heat up from range in the fourth quarter, netting four triples after not scoring a single three in the first thirty minutes of the game. That shooting helped Marquette get back into the game, but it ultimately wasn’t enough to keep up with Virginia Tech.
Kitley led the Hokies with 23 points while Van Kleunen led the Golden Eagles with 18.
“Elizabeth Kitley was Elizabeth Kitley. I’ve always said that she’s one of the best players in the country,” Brooks said. “[She] proved it tonight.”
Virginia Tech’s next game against two-seeded Baylor will be played on Tuesday. No time or network has been announced yet. Tech's star Kitley had this to say about the second round showdown with Baylor.
“It’s just a great opportunity because we get to test ourselves and we know they’re a good team and we can just show how good we are as well,” Kitley said.