The last time Virginia Tech played in Knoxville, the Hokies had a late lead but a late 16-3 Tennessee run won the game for the Volunteers. Once again, Tennessee made a late charge but on this day, the #9 Hokies found a way to hold on for victory.
#9 Virginia Tech beat preseason top 5 Tennessee 59-56 to improve to 8-0 on the season with the Volunteers falling to 4-5. With the victory, the Hokies will likely jump to 6th or 7th in the country tomorrow as Tech continues to show they are legitimate Final Four contenders and a national title threat this year.
The Hokies were without star transfer and former All-American Ashley Owusu in this one after suffering an apparent finger injury during the first half against Nebraska this past week. Additionally, Tech was dominated in the paint 32-10 as Elizabeth Kitley struggled with only 6 points on 3-13 shooting though she did add 9 rebounds and 3 blocks.
However, Tech found other ways to win from a solid mid-range game to a 20-17 points off turnover advantage to going 9-32 from three-point range which may not be great but was much better than Tennessee's 2-14. Tech also had 14 assists while the Volunteers only had 11 and though both teams had 16 turnovers, Tech was the slightly better team moving the ball.
Kayana Traylor was the star of this one for the Hokies. After missing the Nebraska game due to a non-COVID illness, she returned and stepped right into the starting lineup with Owusu out having a big day with a team-high 18 points on an efficient 7-11 shooting plus 3 rebounds. When you have five former All-American, All-ACC, or All-B1G players on your roster, you have plenty of players who can step up if a superstar like Kitley has an off game with Traylor stepping up in this one.
Georgia Amoore didn't have her best game after having a triple-double earlier this week but despite 6 turnovers, she still had a solid game with 10 points, 7 assists, and 4 rebounds. Cayla King had 11 points on 4-10 shooting including a solid 3-8 from three-point range plus 2 rebounds while D'Asia Gregg was big off the bench with 10 points on a pair of threes and 4-6 from the free-throw line plus 4 rebounds. Taylor Soule had only 4 points but also added 7 rebounds and 4 assists with 0 turnovers while Charlise Dunn and Taylor Geiman also received some minutes.
For Virginia Tech to go on the road into a tough place to play like Knoxville without Ashley Owusu while only getting 6 points from Elizabeth Kitley, and still win is a huge victory for the Hokies reinforcing Tech's status as a serious Final Four contender this year.