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No. 5 Virginia Tech Comes Up Short at No. 17 Notre Dame 71-58

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

With a chance to claim the ACC regular season title on their own accord, No. 5 Virginia Tech dropped the ball in South Bend, Indiana, falling to No. 17 Notre Dame 71-58. Luckily for the Hokies, NC State gave them more than just a share of the title after they beat Syracuse 75-71 in overtime, clinching the crown for the Hokies. Although they didn’t clinch the title with a win Thursday evening, Tech still earned its first ACC Regular Season championship in program history.

The Hokies' loss in the Joyce Center, however, was their most unbalanced performance since losing by double-digits to Duke back in January. Virginia Tech shot 37% from the field for the game, allowed 12 offensive rebounds, most of which came in a brutal second quarter, and gave up 18 fastbreak points to the Irish.

Coming into the top 20 clash, the matchup to focus on was Georgia Amoore for the Hokies against Hannah Hidalgo for Notre Dame. Despite only being a freshman, Hidalgo outplayed Amoore over the course of the game. Hidalgo totaled a game-high 23 points, hauled in 12 rebounds, dished out six assists and nabbed herself three steals on defense. While Amoore finished with 20 points, it took 24 shots to do so and she was ice cold in the first half thanks in part to the defense of Hidalgo.

Tech started the game going blow for blow with the Irish, but yielded a brutal 19-2 run from the final two minutes of the first quarter through the first half of the second quarter. This Notre Dame run put Tech well behind the eight ball and they had to claw their way back the rest of the way. The Hokies never got the game back to a one possession contest after the 9:48 mark of the second quarter.

Liz Kitley, winner of four-straight ACC Player of the Week honors, was held in check Thursday night. Kitley had 12 points, nine rebounds and four blocks but was rendered ineffective when measuring up to her lofty 23 points a night standard. The Irish played a physical brand of basketball all night, not just with Kitley but around the horn on all the Hokies. Notre Dame’s on-ball pressure was something Tech hadn’t dealt with since playing Duke twice this season.

Other major factors in the Hokies' loss was allowing Maddie Westbeld and Sonia Citron to combine for an efficient 40 points. Tech’s second leading scorer, tied with Kitley, was Matilda Ekh, who scored 12 points and hit some key baskets in crucial spots for the Hokies. All told, Tech didn’t play with enough juice to beat Notre Dame, and paid for it with a 13-point loss.

Virginia Tech hasn’t beaten Notre Dame since the 2020 season and have lost five of the past six matchups. The Fighting Irish have been a thorn in Kenny Brooks' side since he’s been the coach of the Hokies in Blacksburg.

Still, Virginia Tech hasn’t looked invincible even on their 10 game win streak. And a team that’s made for March has to be prepared to roll through the punches and rebound after a loss before the Big Dance arrives. This loss could give Virginia Tech a mini wake up call and set them straight for the games to come in Greensboro and beyond.

Virginia Tech dropped to 23-5 overall on the year and 14-3 in the ACC. The Hokies are back in action to conclude the regular season this Sunday, as Tech plays arch-rival Virginia in John Paul Jones Arena this Sunday for a 6 PM tip of the Commonwealth Clash.

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