March Madness is one of the greatest events in sports for lots of reasons, but it also can be the cruelest for 67 of the 68 teams who had great seasons to earn their way into it. For the Hokies, they put on a show over the past three weeks but their historic season unfortunately ended in a cruel way.
Virginia Tech fell to LSU 79-72 in the Final Four in Dallas ending their season at 31-5 with the Tigers advancing to take on the winner of South Carolina vs Iowa in the national championship.
This was a game of runs with Virginia Tech down 32-23 early before a shift to the 2-3 zone was magic leading the Hokies on a 16-0 run overall including 11-straight to take a 34-32 lead into halftime. Tech was able to keep the Tigers at arm's length in the third quarter before the Tigers found their stride in the fourth quarter with a 13-0 run to take a 70-62 lead that they would not let go.
The Hokies were dominant on the glass in the first half with 11 offensive rebounds compared to 6 for LSU before the Tigers turned it on in the closing 20 minutes with 9 offensive rebounds compared to 4 for Tech. The Tigers were also able to get what they want most in the paint with 54 points down low plus 10 points at the free-throw line compared to only 15 outside of those two areas.
Tech did a great job of getting to the free-throw line and taking advantage once there going 17-18 from the charity stripe. Their adjustment to a 2-3 zone also helped slow down the Tigers for a period but a rough 9-31 shooting night from three-point range hurt along with having 18 turnovers compared to 7 for LSU
Angel Reese and LaDzahia Williams were big down low with 24 points plus 12 rebounds for Reese while Williams had 16 points and 7 rebounds. Meanwhile, Alexa Morris had a career night with a game high 27 points.
For the Hokies, Liz Kitley played well on both ends of the floor as you would expect from the two-time ACC Player of the Year with 18 points on 7-12 from the field plus 12 rebounds, 7 blocks, 3 assists, and 1 steal. If this is the final game for Kitley, this was a great way to go out even if it came in a loss.
Meanwhile, Kayana Traylor played well on this stage with 17 points on 6-11 from the field plus 9 rebounds, 2 steals in a tremendous final game of her career. Georgia Amoore played well even if she wasn't the most efficient having 17 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 assists while Cayla King made some big shots finishing with 14 points plus 6 rebounds, 3 steals, and 1 assist. Foul trouble limited Taylor Soule but she stayed engaged firing up the fans again and again while adding 4 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block, and 1 steal while D'Asia Gregg had 2 points and 2 rebounds.
This may be a heartbreaking end, but there's no doubt that this is the greatest Virginia Tech basketball team, men's or women's, in the history of VT Athletics and one of the Mount Rushmore teams Hokie Nation has cheered for.
The Hokies made about as much history as you could imagine with all of these achievements coming via individuals or a as a team this season.
- First Final Four Appearance
- First ACC Tournament Title
- First 30+ Win Season
- First NCAA Regional Championship
- First NCAA 1 seed
- Two-Time ACC Player of the Year (Liz Kitley)
- Most All-ACC First and Second Teamers (3: Kitley, Georgia Amoore, Taylor Soule)
- First Triple-Double (Amoore vs Nebraska)
- First 2,000 Point Scorer (Kitley)
- Most Three-Pointers Made in a Single-Season Men's or Women's (Amoore)
- All-Time Scoring and Blocks Leader (Kitley)
There will be a Final Four banner inside Cassell Coliseum and though the end was a heartbreaking one, this is a team that inspired a younger generation of hoopers in Southwest Virginia, reminded Hokie fans that national championships and great postseason success can happen in Blacksburg, and were a team where fans will point to that banner in Cassell and tell their children and grandchildren stories about this team.
That's a legacy that no heartbreaking Final Four loss can change.