Fresh off road losses to Florida State and Duke and an unconvincing home victory over the Clemson Tigers, it would be fair for some fans to begin to worry about the Hokies, who weren’t exactly performing up to their championship contending capabilities. Last night, No. 19 Virginia Tech flipped the script, dominating a good Georgia Tech team in essentially every facet of the game on their way to an 87-69 victory over the Yellow Jackets.
While the focus was all about the injury status of Georgia Amoore and Cayla King prior to the game, Elizabeth Kitley stole the show in the first quarter with 16 points on a perfect 8-8 shooting. Kitley hit shot after shot, often opting for her nearly unguardable fade away from 7-10 feet, while playing a successful two-man game with Georgia Amoore. Kitley’s 16 points helped the Hokies build a first quarter 28-13 lead, which the Hokies never gave up.
Kitley finished with 29 points, and nine rebounds on 13-20 from the field, just one point shy of her fourth 30-point game in her last five outings. Despite already having two ACC Player of the Year trophies to her name, Kitley has somehow found a way to level up one more time as a fifth year senior, which makes the Hokies even more dangerous heading into March.
Kitley’s front court partner, Olivia Summiel also had an excellent game, dropping 12 points and nine rebounds in just her third start in a Virginia Tech jersey. After the game Kenny Brooks mentioned the difficulty there is in transferring into a talented team and being able to find a role. However, it seems as if Summiel has done exactly that, as she dominates on the glass beside Elizabeth Kitley and is able to stretch the floor alongside Kitley, offensively.
Summiel wasn’t the only Hokie on the same page with Kitley, as Amoore got the assist on about half of Kitley’s buckets, on her way to 13 assists and just two turnovers on the night, to go along with 24 points on 9-16 from the field. Amoore showed what a different team Virginia Tech is when she is on the floor versus when she isn’t. In the last two games, of which Amoore only totaled 20 minutes due to a head injury, the Hokies combined for 38 turnovers. Tonight, they only gave it away six times, and had an assist to turnover ratio above three.
Even in the games Amoore was playing, she struggled for about a month, shooting just 37% from the field, and 28% from three point range over her last seven games. However, it seems as if her cold spell has come to an end, which Kenny Brooks described as Amoore getting her “spunk” back.
Finally, Cayla King also had a good return from injury, as she had to be carried off the floor Sunday afternoon against Clemson, but fortunately had nothing more than a bone bruise, returning to the bench under her own power at the end of the Clemson game. While King went scoreless, missing her two shot attempts, she played tremendous defense, chasing around Georgia Tech’s go-to scoring guards despite her bone bruise.
As a team, the Hokies did almost everything well, shooting at an elite level, while also protecting the rim, out rebounding Georgia Tech, and moving the ball around on offense. Kenny Brooks mentioned Tech’s struggle to put together 40 great minutes of basketball, but the Hokies got a step closer to accomplishing that goal tonight.
Against Florida State, the Hokies played well for most of the game, before falling apart in the fourth quarter. Against Duke, Virginia Tech came out firing in the first quarter, and still was well in the game until about midway through the third quarter when they let the game slip away once again. Besides a couple minutes early in the second quarter, where Georgia Amoore says the team momentarily relaxed, the Hokies put together an entire game of great basketball to pick up an important win over a strong ACC opponent.
After this tough loss, Georgia Tech will look to bounce back in another tough matchup at home against No. 23 Florida State, where the Yellow Jackets will look to get Tonie Morgan more involved early on, after a 12 point fourth quarter helping her reach a career high of 26 points.
Meanwhile, the Hokies look forward to a premier matchup against the 22nd ranked Syracuse Orange on January 28th up at the JMA Wireless Dome.