The Greensboro Coliseum has now witnessed multiple hot streaks from the queen of the court, Georgia Amoore. The first came during Virginia Tech’s victory in the quarterfinals over Miami. Semifinal Saturday, however, saw Amoore up her own ante, closing the first half by draining outside shots left and right. The one woman wrecking crew propelled the Hokies to a 17-0 run to finish the first half and an insurmountable 18-point lead at the break.
“They make you play on your heels a lot, but ever since our loss to them in Durham, we've played a different style. We've been physical on both ends of the floor, running through our passes, getting to our spots,” head coach Kenny Brooks said postgame. “Tonight was no different. We knew we had to be that way. Very proud of them."
#8 Virginia Tech rode that late first half run all the way to glory, defeating #13 Duke 58-37 in the ACC Tournament Semifinal from the Greensboro Coliseum Saturday afternoon. The Hokies win sets the stage for a date with the fourth-seeded Louisville Cardinals in the ACC Tournament championship game, Tech’s first title game appearance in program history.
“Not done yet. Very happy to be in the championship game, but our goal is to win a championship. So excited to get back and prepare for what's to come tomorrow.” Brooks said.
The star of the show was the Hokies' All-ACC first team point guard Georgia Amoore, who totaled a game-high 26 points on 9-16 shooting from the floor including 6-8 from three point territory while dishing out seven assists. Amoore was the most critical piece of the Hokies knockout punch in the second quarter and stayed unconscious until the final buzzer.
“It's almost like get Georgia the ball. When she's feeling it, she just has a different look on her face,” Cayla King told reporters postgame. “I feel like every time the ball leaves her hands, it's going in the goal, and I think everyone on the team has that same feeling.”
Amoore’s six made three pointers elevated her total up to 11 triples in two games of this ACC Tournament. The Aussie assassin is averaging 20 PPG through the quarter and seminfinal rounds, with the chance to clinch a spot on the All-Tournament team in Sunday’s final.
“I think when she's making her three-point shot like that, it's really hard to guard her because she's obviously quick and can get downhill and so you're having to guard both things at the same time.” Duke head coach Kara Lawson said postgame.
Curiously enough, Amoore was the lone double-digit scorer for the Hokies. Tech’s next highest scorers were Liz Kitley and Kayana Traylor who both chipped in eight points apiece. Kitley in particular, hasn’t had a game with under 10 points since scoring four points in Tech’s last loss to the Blue Devils back on January 26.
“And you give Elizabeth a lot of credit because even on a day where it looks like she didn't really have it going, she commands so much attention.” Brooks said.
Kitley was harassed by Duke off her sweet spots in the Hokies and Devils first bout of the year. A few weeks later when the series flipped to Blacksburg, Brooks and Kitley were able to adjust and add wrinkles into the offense which resulted in a bounceback 20 point outing for the two-time ACC Player of the Year. The third time around proved to further the chess match and resulted in a different style of success.
“The first game it took us a little bit because we hadn't seen them play like that. Second game, we moved her around and she got opportunities,” Brooks said. “Today she was more like a decoy. Not too many superstars are okay with being a decoy.”
Kitley was swarmed by Duke defenders once again, but the amount of attention she attracted opened up opportunities for her teammates to make the Devils defense pay. When Duke prioritized Kitley, that’s when her fellow All-ACC teammate Amoore churned out bucket after bucket on Duke’s head.
“That was a wrinkle, and we knew they were playing so hard and trying to force Liz off of her spot that we just told Georgia instead of setting a back screen, pop out and you'll be wide open, and she hit two threes right there.” Brooks said.
Not only were the Hokies hot from beyond the three-point arc, they also held Duke to an extremely poor shooting output. Tech limited Duke to 27% from the field and 7% from three on 1-15 from deep. Furthermore, the Hokies wiped the glass clean, nearly doubling the Blue Devils up in rebounds for a 41-22 advantage on the boards.
“Our defense was good. I know a lot of people talk about a lot of other people's defense, but our defense was pretty good, too. We just happened to focus on the offensive end, too. We're pretty balanced,” Brooks said. “But our defensive effort the last two days has been really, really good.”
On the offensive end, Tech shot 51% from the floor and 53% from three point range. Both smoking hot figures are some of the best efficiency numbers the Hokies have put up all year long, and they chose the perfect game to do it in. The only negative for Tech was the 20 turnovers they committed. Chalk it up to sloppy play with the game out of reach, but Tech will look to clean up that number ahead of Sunday’s championship game.
Still, Virginia Tech clobbered Duke to the tune of a 58-37 thumping in the semifinals of the ACC Women’s Basketball Tournament. The Hokies will move on to face a Louisville team in the title game that just took down top-seeded Notre Dame earlier that day. If victorious, it will be the program’s first ACC Women's Tournament Championship.