A 16-2 run in the middle of the second half turned what seemed to be a cakewalk to a first Elite Eight into a nailbitter for Virginia Tech. However, the Hokies got of their second half Funk and fought back leaning on an 8-0 run to open the game back up on their way to making history.
Virginia Tech beat Tennessee 73-64 to reach the Elite Eight for the first time in program history. The 1 seed Hokies will take on 3 seed Ohio State, who upset 2 seed Connecticut, at 9pm on Monday night on ESPN for a spot in the Final Four.
Runs defined this game as Tech came out fast with a 9-0 run before having a big 8-0 run to end the first half that gave them a 13-point lead at halftime. Then, Tech's closing 15-4 run to push the leas from 1 to 12 relieved some pressure quickly even as they still had some rough moments against the press that had defined Tennessee's surge to make it a 1-point game in the first place.
Tech was also dominant defensively and in the paint especially in the first half holding the Lady Vols to only 23 points including only 10 in the paint. The Lady Vols shot just over 40% from the field for the game though their perimeter defense was good as Tennessee went 3-17 from behind the arc.
Georgia Amoore was huge for the Hokies in this game making plenty of big shots along with some huge free throws on her way to a career-high 29 points on 9-21 from the field and 7-8 from the free-throw line plus 6 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 steals. Amoore played the crucial role in stabilizing Tech when Tennessee went on their run and then driving their lead back in the right direction to finish it off.
Kayana Traylor may have had some not so great moments against the press, but Traylor played well overall with 14 points on an efficient 6-11 plus 3 assists and 3 rebounds proving to be a key reason in this victory.
Liz Kitley had a quiet night by her high standards, but she still was fairly effective with 12 points on 6-14 from the field plus 8 rebounds while fellow Greensboro native Cayla King added 9 points and 4 rebounds. D'Asia Gregg played well off the bench on both ends of the floor with 5 points and 5 rebounds, and Taylor Soule found numerous ways to contribute with 4 points,7 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, and 1 block.
This game was definitely not perfect for Virginia Tech but when things seemed on the verge of complete collapse, the Hokies found a way to turn things around and grind out a victory in a game that became a full-on fight (even literally for Tennessee's Jordan Walker). The Hokies will have plenty of work tomorrow after their struggles with the press given Ohio State's impressive 2-2-1 press with Kenny Brooks and his staff likely to begin working on a gameplan for it tonight.
In the meantime, Tech rightly has a brief amount of time to celebrate their deepest NCAA Tournament run in program history before turning their focus to trying to beat Ohio State and reach their first Final Four.