GREENSBORO, NC — Virginia Tech sophomore Elizabeth Kitley went up strong, drew contact, got the whistle, and buried a layup with 5:11 remaining in the fourth quarter. The Kitley-and-one played a pivotal role in the 72-64 victory over Miami in the second round of the ACC Tournament for Kenny Brooks and the Hokies.
The converted and-one ended a Miami 16-2 run that brought back all too familiar feelings for Virginia Tech fans.
Kenny Brooks’ seventh-seeded Hokies held a 57-36 lead with 3:05 remaining in the third quarter, and the game had felt all in favor for the women in white.
However, so many leads entering the second half have slipped away this season for Virginia Tech. Midway through the third quarter of Thursday’s game, it felt that it would be no different.
An avalanche from the tenth-seeded Miami Hurricanes unfolded, sparked by nine straight points from Destiny Harden for the Hurricanes that chopped the Tech lead that was once at 21 to only seven. Harden poured in 19 of her 27 points of the game in the second half.
The lone points that were scored in the combined 7:55 time span by the Hokies were two free throws by D’asia Gregg. She finished with her first double-double of the season for Tech by collecting 13 points and ten rebounds.
The last breath by Miami came at the 38-second mark when a three-point shot swished through for Moulayna Johnson Sidi Baba. The three-pointer brought the Canes within seven once again.
Freshman guard Georgia Amoore slammed the door shut by making one of her two free throws to push the lead to eight, 72-64, which turned out to be the final score.
Besides the run in the third and fourth quarter, the Hokies played exceptional defense in the first half.
The Hokies’ defense in the first half forced eight Miami turnovers which resulted in eight points and helped catapult Tech to a 43-28 lead at the half. Two of the turnovers gave sophomore Cayla King and Georgia Amoore layups that opened up the scoring and the gap for Virginia Tech. This defensive start paired with the sucker punch to start the third quarter proved to be too tall of a mountain to climb for Miami.
Amoore sank two three-pointers in the first quarter and added a layup, giving her eight points in the frame. Her eight points lead all scorers in the first quarter, which helped build a 24-12 lead through one for the Hokies.
The quick start combined with consistency throughout the second quarter and beginning parts of the third quarter seemed to be all Tech needed in tonight’s second-round victory.
The Hokies never trailed the entire game and were only tied once, with the Canes 2-2 early in the first quarter.
Senior point guard, Aisha Sheppard, gathered seven points in the first quarter off of a three-pointer and a pair of two-point baskets before reinjuring her ankle in the second quarter. Sheppard never returned to the hardwood after hobbling off with the help of a trainer. Coach Kenny Brooks in the post-game press conference announced that Sheppard had not practiced since spraining her ankle in the loss versus UNC that occurred February 28th. When asked about the possibility of her return in the quarterfinals, Coach Brooks said “Hopefully, we get some treatment tonight, and we’ll see how she feels tomorrow.”
The two-time first-team All-ACC guard will be needed for the quarterfinal match versus NC State at 6pm on Friday.
With tonight’s win, the ladies advance to the quarterfinals and face the second-seeded NC State Wolfpack. Friday’s contest will be the rubber match between the Hokies and Wolfpack. After falling in Raleigh 89-87, the Hokie women rallied, splitting the season series by defeating the then second-ranked NC State squad 83-71 in overtime at Cassell Coliseum. However, NC State was missing the 2020 unanimous All-ACC first-team center Elissa Cunane, who enters Friday averaging 15.6 points and eight rebounds per game.
Kenny Brooks picked up win number 100 as the Virginia Tech head coach and his third ACC Tournament victory.