The Women’s NCAA Tournament bracket was announced on Monday night, and for the first time since 2006, the Virginia Tech Hokies will be in the field. Kenny Brooks and his squad are seeded 7th and will face 10-seed Marquette in the River Walk Region.
The game will be Sunday afternoon at noon and will be televised on ESPNU.
The bid is the first since Beth Dunkenberger took the Hokies to the NCAA Tournament in her second year as Virginia Tech’s coach in 2006. The Hokies were also a 7 seed that year, and they beat 10-seed Missouri 82-51 before losing to 2-seed UConn 79-56.
For current coach Kenny Brooks, the journey back to the NCAA’s took five seasons. Brooks took over the Virginia Tech job in 2016-17 and won 20 or more games in his first four seasons. His first three teams played in the Women’s National Invitational Tournament (WNIT), including a runner-up finish in 2017-18. His fourth Virginia Tech team (2019-20) went 21-9 and 11-7 in the ACC and was widely viewed as an NCAA Tournament team, but COVID-19 cut the season short and bids were never extended.
This year’s squad started out poorly in ACC play, and on January 24th suffered a painful loss to No. 2 NC State that dropped the Hokies to 7-7 overall (2-7 ACC). In that game, the Hokies led 79-70 with 4:52 remaining, but then gave up a 16-2 run and eventually lost 89-87. At that point, the team had lost seven of their last eight games in the ACC, with blown leads being a pattern.
But just four days later, the Hokies faced the Wolfpack again, and this time Tech beat NC State 83-71 in overtime. That game was the first in a six-game winning streak that turned the season around and transformed Virginia Tech into an NCAA Tournament team. The Hokies won seven of their last nine games and finished 14-9 overall (8-8 ACC, 7th in the ACC).
With the Virginia Tech men’s team making the tournament as a 10-seed, this is the first time in Virginia Tech basketball history that both the men and the women have made the NCAA’s.
The Hokies are led by the 1-2 punch of sophomore center Elizabeth Kitley (18.5 ppg), last year’s ACC Freshman of the Year, and senior guard Aisha Sheppard (18.3 ppg), who rank second and third in the ACC in scoring. Kitley leads the team with 10.7 rebounds per game and has 13 double-doubles this season, while Sheppard leads the ACC in three-pointers made this season and holds the Virginia Tech career record for three-pointers with 304. They are joined in double-figure scoring by freshman point guard Georgia Amoore, who scores 11.5 ppg and leads the team with 106 assists.