Virginia Tech Rallies From Slow Start to Beat #23 North Carolina 66-61

Virginia Tech Rallies From Slow Start to Beat #23 North Carolina 66-61
Photo Credit: Dave Knachel/Virginia Tech Athletics

Andy Loce | @Andy_Loce15

TLP: Writer
Feb 14, 2022

The four-game sweep of the home stand looked to be in jeopardy when the Hokies were down by 12 points in the first quarter. But, this team was built to come back from tougher moments like this.

That’s exactly what the Hokies did with a dominant response in the second quarter and controlled the matchup down the stretch to improve to 11-3 in the ACC with a 66-61 victory over No. 23 North Carolina.

On top of their victory over No. 11 Georgia Tech on Feb. 10, it is the first time in program history that the women’s basketball team has won back-to-back games over ranked opposition.

Leading the way for the Hokies were the playmaking ability of Elizabeth Kitley who recorded 15 points and team-highs of eight rebounds, five blocks and two steals. She was also the most efficient shooter from the floor by converting on six of her nine attempts.

Other impact scorers came from Georgia Amoore, who achieved a team-high 17 points, and Aisha Sheppard, who had another double figure performance with 14 points.

It was a special night for Sheppard who made history breaking the all-time ACC record for the most career three-point shots made by a player that was previously at 374 held by Louisville's Asia Durr. Sheppard now has plenty of games left to try to become the first ACC women's basketball player to make 400+ threes in her career as well.

From the opening tip, the Tar Heels came out fast and they took to the Hokies on the offensive end of the floor; recording 21 points in the opening ten minutes and hauling in seven offensive rebounds, which turned into eight second chance points.

Deja Kelly was the one running the show as she went four of six from the floor and recorded 10 of her 17 points in the opening frame.

After a busy week, the Hokies could have rolled and allowed the Tar Heels to complete the series sweep after North Carolina got a commanding 71-46 win over Virginia Tech in Chapel Hill back on Jan. 9.

Then suddenly in the second quarter, the tides appeared to flip.

After shooting 26.7 percent from the floor in the first quarter, the Hokies figured out their stroke in the second by shooting 46.2 percent including four of five from behind the arc.

Meanwhile, the Tar Heels lost their groove and shot the ball only 10 times in the second period after hoisting up 21 attempts in the opening period.

Trailing by three at halftime, the Tar Heels came out of the locker room firing away and salvaged a one point lead over the Hokies. The alternating momentum stayed in motion as the Hokies responded with a 8-0 run to grab their largest lead of the game with a 42-35 edge.

To start out the fourth quarter, the Hokies were determined to extend their lead by putting together a 6-0 run to start the period. However, that wasn’t going to be enough to put away the Tar Heels as they came roaring back by making it a five-point game with just under two minutes remaining.

With the pressure mounting on the Hokies, they fed the ball down low to Kitley to convert with a huge bucket. It seemed like an ambitious decision as they were being outscored 28-12 in the paint at the time, but she delivered.

The clutch old-fashioned three-point play by the junior center gave the Hokies just enough separation at the end to extend the Hokies’ winning streak to four.

As the regular season schedule is coming to a close in two weeks, the Hokies put together what may be their best week of the season to date and are looking ahead to difficult battles against No. 3 Louisville on Feb. 20 and No. 5 N.C. State on Feb. 27.

Before those daunting tasks, the Hokies will venture up to Syracuse on Thursday, Feb. 17 to take on the Orange for the only time during the regular season. Tipoff for that game will be at 7 p.m. and the contest will be presented on ACC Network Extra.