The injury bug once again bit #9 Virginia Tech women's basketball leading into their matchup with 13-1 Virginia leaving the Hokies without their two former All-Americans. However, this is a team that does not lack for star power with 3 healthy stars who were All-ACC or All-Big 10 previously.
That showed tonight as all three of those players stepped up with 15+ points on the way to another victory for the Hokies.
#9 Virginia Tech beat Virginia 74-66 to improve to 13-2 on the season including 3-2 in ACC play while the Cavaliers fell to 13-2 on the season including 2-2 in ACC play.
This game was back and forth for most of the first half with the score being tied at 32 going into halftime. When both teams came back out for the third quarter, it was the Hokies who took control outscoring UVA 19-13 in the third before keeping the Cavaliers at arm's length the rest of the way.
Part of that was due to better ball movement coming out of halftime after it was a point of emphasis from Kenny Brooks during the break.
"I thought in the first half, we got stagnant. I think we saw some opportunities and we were trying to attack those opportunities without ball movement. And that's one of the things we talked about at halftime just to get the ball moving from side to side then look to attack and I think we got some really good looks from it," Brooks said.
Part of it also came down to the Hokies being opportunistic in transition especially off turnovers with Tech having a 19-11 advantage in points off turnovers and an 8-1 advantage in fast break points. While Brooks didn't want to always push it, he was pleased with when Tech did push and take advantage of transition opportunities to get quality shots.
"We were very opportunistic in transition. We weren't going to try to just 'run, run run', because obviously they were trying to preserve some energy, but when they had the opportunity to run, they got open and we some kids free. I think Georgia got a good look. Cayla got a couple good looks, and we were able to separate ourselves a little bit," Brooks said.
As mentioned above, Tech's other 3 stars who've earned All-ACC or All-B1G honors stepped up with Liz Kitley out along with Ashley Owusu.
Georgia Amoore led the way scoring wise with 22 points plus 4 rebounds, 1 assist, and only 1 turnover while shooting 7-16 from the field including 4-10 from three-point range plus 4-4 at the free-throw line. Taylor Soule had a big night with an 18-point, 10-rebound double-double while also adding a pair of assists and shooting a fairly efficient 8-17 from the field plus 2-4 at the free-throw line. Kayana Traylor also was efficient with 15 points on 4-9 from the field including 1-3 from three plus a perfect 6-6 at the free-throw line while also having 4 assists, 3 rebounds, and 2 steals.
While none of those three may be former All-Americans, this team is full of All-American caliber players as they showed tonight from Taylor Soule's viewpoint.
"Personally, I think we have a team full of All-Americans whether they have been given the accolade (or not). I think we have a lot of trust in each other and we're trying to build it in ourselves to. Like coach (Kenny Brooks), just understanding your role and not trying to make up for the things that Liz (Kitley) does but just doing your job and doing it really well, and I think tonight it showed that when we do that, we can win big games," Soule said.
Beyond those big three, D'Asia Gregg had a strong performance with a 10-point, 10-rebound double-double plus 2 steals, 1 block, and 1 assist. Cayla King also made a solid impact on this game with 9 points on 3-6 shooting from three-point range plus 3 assists and 2 rebounds. Taylor Geiman played an important 18 minutes off the bench adding 2 rebounds and 1 assist while giving Tech's starting 5 some important breaks to avoid having anyone play the full 40 minutes.
Looking ahead, Tech will face a road test against a Miami team that just beat #22 North Carolina this evening, but there is reason for optimism that the Hokies may have Liz Kitley given that Kenny Brooks said that it was his decision to have Kitley sit this game after Kitley went through shootaround earlier today.
Even if Kitley doesn't play and is still out due to injury along with Ashley Owusu, Tech showed that they still have plenty of talent to beat quality ACC opposition.