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2024 NCAA Tournament: Virginia Tech Suffers Heartbreaking 75-72 Loss to Baylor

Georgia Amoore Kenny Brooks 1 VT Baylor 2024 From VT
Photo Credit: Virginia Tech Athletics
Will Locklin | @locklin_will
Writer/Basketball Analyst

In basketball, close games can be decided by the smallest of factors and the most razor thin of margins. Such was the case for Virginia Tech in the Hokies' 75-72 Round of 32 loss to Baylor in Cassell Coliseum Sunday evening.

“They played a little bit better than we did tonight. That’s what this thing is all about, to survive and advance. Super proud of my kids, it wasn’t supposed to end like this.” Kenny Brooks said postgame.

Each quarter of the Hokies and Bears battle was decided by three points or less. Baylor and Tech shot the exact same 27-63 from the field (42.9%) for the game as a whole. Tech outrebounded Baylor by one board for the game, 36 to 35. There were 10 ties and the Bears largest lead of the game was seven, which was cut back down to five 13 seconds later.

Tech had ample opportunities to tie or take the lead from Baylor down the stretch but were unable to execute when the game mattered the most. Most notably, the Hokies didn’t get a quality shot on the game’s final play.

“We couldn't execute the play because I think the in-bounder was big on Carleigh (Wenzel). I thought we had a good look. We were going for Tilly to shoot a three, and we just didn't execute it.” Brooks said.

Despite winning all of their games at home prior to Sunday, and leading for the majority of those games, Tech hardly led Baylor at all. The Hokies led for just 17 seconds of the entire game, a testament to how well the Bears played as they gave Tech their first home loss since 2022.

“We've got a lot of kids that live for these moments, that really enjoy these environments,” Baylor head coach Nicki Collen told reporters postgame. “I just think we've got a group of competitors.”

The Hokies were powered by two brilliant performances from Matilda Ekh and Clara Strack throughout the contest. Ekh led the Hokies in scoring with 19 points on 7-12 from the floor and four made triples from downtown.

“She has the heart of a lion…She knew that I trusted her and she came out and had a different look in her eye and she wanted to help the team win. She played exceptionally well this weekend.” Brooks said.

The freshman from Buffalo, New York totaled 18 points and 10 rebounds to mark up her first career double double in her second career start. Strack was a big presence inside for the Hokies, converting three buckets with the foul and shooting 6-8 as a whole and 6-7 from the free throw line.

“She’s a star. It takes a lot for a freshman who had not played a prominent role all year long to come on this stage and come in front of this crowd and to perform the way she did," Brooks said.

For Virginia Tech, this loss is certainly a heartbreaker and marks what is the end of an era for the complete core of Georgia Amoore, Elizabeth Kitley, Cayla King, and even perhaps Kenny Brooks.

“The most amazing stretch of my coaching career. Those three are incredible people. I couldn’t have asked for better people to transform this program.” Brooks said.

While Amoore has one year of eligibility left, Sunday’s loss to Baylor may be the final game she plays in a Virginia Tech jersey. Amoore finished with 18 points and six assists, as well as hitting two major three pointers in the final minute to give Tech a shot down the stretch.

“I had four offers or whatever. I took two visits, and one of them just happened to be here, and that's a blessing in disguise. I didn't know at that time how it would play out, but I took the chance, and I'm very, very grateful that I did because I've got him for life now. I've loved it, and I couldn't be more grateful.” Georgia Amoore detailed postgame.

Up next for Tech, is an offseason full of question marks, but for now, Tech sees its season end in heartbreaking fashion, as the fourth-seeded Hokies bow out of the 2024 NCAA Tournament in a close three-point loss to the fifth-seeded Baylor Bears in Cassell Coliseum Sunday night.

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