No. 8 Virginia Tech Comes Up Short In Heavyweight Fight With No. 3 Iowa

No. 8 Virginia Tech came up short in Thursday night’s heavyweight fight against No. 3 Iowa in Charlotte, falling 80-76.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — No. 8 Virginia Tech came up short in Thursday night’s heavyweight fight against No. 3 Iowa in Charlotte, falling 80-76.

“We’re a work in progress,” Tech head coach Kenny Brooks said after the loss. “… We didn’t do everything right, we didn’t, but we played hard and we will fix the things we need to fix, but I’m very proud of their effort.”

All 15,196 spectators in the Spectrum Center got their money’s worth watching the Hokies (1-1) and Hawkeyes (2-0).

Caitlin Clark scored 44 points, one shy of her career-high and the most ever by an opponent against Tech, making 13 of her 31 field goals while converting 13-of-17 foul shots. On the other side, Georgia Amoore was electric with a career-high 31 points (10-of-23 FG, 7-of-14 3FG).

“You’re playing a generational player,” Brooks said of Clark. “… I love my girls, but sometimes you’re playing checkers and she’s playing chess. She’s that good. But I thought we did a good job of making her work and think a lot tonight.”

Caitlin Clark lit up Virginia Tech for 44 points, but she did so on 31 shots. (Jon Fleming)

The game, which featured 11 lead changes, came down to the final possession. Amoore drained a three with five seconds remaining, giving Tech one final glimmer of hope before Clark sealed the game with a free throw.

A battle of two of the nation’s best teams and arguably the two best guards in the country delivered, even though both teams didn’t shoot well. There was drama, from Amoore’s halfcourt buzzer beater at the end of the first quarter and Cayla King elbowing Elizabeth Kitley in the face (which Brooks said might result in stitches) to Clark drawing 16 fouls.

There’s a reason why both coaches cringed at the idea of playing this game in November, however; It looked like the second game of the season from the jump. The teams were a combined 14-of-41 (34%) from the floor, 4-of-18 (22%) from behind the arc with five turnovers in the first quarter and struggled to settle in.

Shots were off target, passes were awry and, combined with 21 first-half fouls, it was very choppy. Brooks said his group never found a rhythm.

Tech did its best to slow down Clark and held her to 18 points on 6-of-15 shooting in the first half. Amoore matched her with 18, courtesy of four 3-pointers. But guarding Clark took its toll over the course of the game.

King picked up two quick fouls in the first quarter. Matilda Ekh had two before halftime, as did Amoore. Redshirt freshman Carleigh Wenzel, who had quite a night with 11 points on 4-of-4 shooting, committed three before intermission.

Carleigh Wenzel played very well for Virginia Tech against Iowa. (Jon Fleming)

Like the way the game was officiated or not, Clark & Co. used that to their advantage, shooting 22 free throws on the night (and making 18). Three Tech players finished with four fouls — King, Ekh and true freshman Carys Baker — while Wenzel fouled out late in the game. As a result, Clark started to get going, and she scored 26 of her 44 in the second half, including 16 in the fourth. That carried Iowa.

“We were in foul trouble from the start,” Brooks said. “Cayla got in foul trouble and Matilda got in foul trouble, Carleigh got in foul trouble. It just really threw us off with our gameplan. We got stagnant a little bit, but we’ll continue to get better.”

On the other side, Tech tried to keep pace. The offense was stagnant at times and shots that often fall did not. But the Hawkeyes were stingy and defended Kitley intelligently. It worked considering she scored the first two points of the game for Tech and then missed six consecutive shots before getting going in the fourth quarter.

“We tried to mix up the way we played against her depending on who was guarding her,” Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder said. “Hannah [Stuelke] was trying to faceguard her and try to keep the ball out of her hands. … Sharon [Goodman], on the other hand, was playing behind her. We were trying to mix up what we were doing with her so she just never really, hopefully, got comfortable with that.”

There were also other offensive struggles. Ekh and King had seven and six points, respectively, all of which came in the second half. Carys Baker and Olivia Summiel each came off the bench and scored a basket. Summiel was also Tech’s second-leading rebounder with eight, crucial in a 47-40 deficit on the boards. On top of that, forward Rose Micheaux, who started the game, oddly played just seven minutes and did not score.

The Hokies, who started 2-of-10 from the field, finally got going late in the first period when Amoore and Wenzel generated a 7-0 run. That duo really carried the team in the first half, combining for 26 of the 32 points. The only other contributor was Kitley with six, who was awfully quiet for the majority of the contest despite getting solid looks.

Virginia Tech center Elizabeth Kitley had an extremely tough night against Iowa on Thursday. (Jon Fleming)

Kitley found her groove down the stretch, hitting 5-of-8 shots and scoring 10 of her 16 late, and grabbed 16 rebounds. That gave the Hokies a chance, and after trailing for a good chunk of the third quarter, they pulled within two points with seven minutes to go. To that point, Iowa was a perfect 5-of-5 in the period while Tech was 5-of-7, and it appeared the basketball gods decided to remove the lid from the rim.

“In the fourth quarter, it got exciting,” Clark said. “We were trading threes and it felt like that’s really what both teams are about, really great offense, can shoot the ball really well.”

The shooting numbers in the final period were astounding. Iowa was 9-of-13 (69%); for the rest of the game, it was 19-of-55 (35%). Tech was 11-of-22 (50%) in that 10-minute span but 17-of-50 (34%) otherwise.

But just when a quick 6-0 run from the Hokies, helped out by a turnover from Clark, brought them within two and appeared to swing the momentum in the arena, everything slipped away. In hindsight, it was likely Tech’s best chance to regain the lead, but a chaotic series of events unfolded.

Iowa’s Gabbie Marshall lost the ball to Ekh, who took off down the court on a fastbreak but was cut off by Clark. At the same time, she was pickpocketed from behind by Molly Davis. It was a quick turn of events in transition, and Clark quickly found Martin, who converted a layup to kill Tech’s vibe.

It was all Iowa from there, courtesy of six free throws from Clark. Though Tech made jabs at the lead thanks to a few treys from Amoore, the Hawkeyes were comfortable in the driver’s seat and held off the Hokies in thrilling fashion.

Virginia Tech and Georgia Amoore could very well meet Iowa and Lisa Bluder in the NCAA Tournament later this season. (Jon Fleming)

“I really felt like this was late February, early March,” Brooks said. “The intensity was unbelievable, just going back and forth, testing my wits against Lisa and vice versa. … It is a little bit of a stretch to get in the second game, but I think this is going to benefit us, we’re going to learn from this and we’ll get better from this.”

It was a disappointing result for the Hokies after a historic night, one that featured their largest regular-season crowd in program history. The atmosphere in the Spectrum Center was electric; it felt like basketball heaven, and Clark and Amoore were the welcoming party, two of the best in the game trading blows.

Amoore joked afterwards that Clark has been “gifted by every God you can imagine.” Clark said it’s obvious Amoore is one of the best point guards in the country. And together, they put on a show on Thursday night in a game that lived up to the hype on both sides, even if Tech now has a mark in the loss column.

The night was a victory for women’s basketball, one with an aura comparable to that of the Final Four. Both coaches described it as a win-win situation, and though neither team played up to its expectations, the game delivered.

“I used to coach on the men’s side and I switched over to the women’s side and I’ve been fighting and championing for the cause for a long time for women to be able to get this opportunity,” Brooks said. “And tonight, it was like a dream come true.

“We’re disappointed as hell with losing the game, but I thought it was a fantastic game. … We were glad we were a part of it. We hope that we helped women’s basketball move forward tonight, and I’m so proud of these kids.”

Box Score: No. 3 Iowa 80, No. 8 Virginia Tech 76

34 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. A great game to watch. Kenny Brook’s team will only improve from this loss. I was a little surprised that Liz Kitley had such a hard time trying to get going. Hopefully she’ll heal quickly from her injury and gets back into the line-up. And Carleigh Wenzel is a star in the making.

    I thought the officiating was ok, at least there weren’t a ton of calls. I think officiating WBB is probably pretty difficult for some reason. It amazes me how often one or more players end up on the floor after a play and no call is made.

  2. The officiating objectively looked really bad. Inconsistent. I know a new arena is tough to knock down shots. They just have a different feel; however, I feel the the officiating benefitted Iowa in the end. Also, Iowa switched off on Liz players that would just beat on her. I don’t know how the busted lip happened as she has her back to me; but that was a blow.
    The foul trouble made our girls less aggressive and Iowa knew it and took advantage of it.
    I almost walked over to and to suggest a formal letter of protest on that crew, and not play another game with them.
    I still do not know which Conference they were with. Terrible night for the Stripes.

  3. Great game! Fun to watch!

    Iowa played more physical and were more aggressive

    We need to shoot better and rebound better

    We have some outstanding players.

    Caitlin Clark is the best female player I have ever seen and a lot of men would not want to play against her. She’s incredible

  4. What a special night. This rivals only a few football games during the VT glory days, as perhaps the most exciting sporting event I’ve ever attended. The vibe was electric from the moment I arrived in Charlotte. I got out of my car, and there was a “let’s go … Hokies” call and response in the parking garage. I checked into my hotel and the lobby was packed with Hokies and Hawks. There were girls and young ladies (and old folks) wearing their favorite player’s jerseys, for blocks around. And the most exciting part is we’re going to get so much better. Iowa wasn’t perfect, but I think they played closer to their ceiling than we did ours. With a little injury luck, we are going to make another deep run in March. Lets go Hokies!

    1. It’s games like this which will grow women’s basktball. I’m never going to be a fan of the WNBA nor am I of the NBA but women’s NCAA basketball is another story. So much energy, so much fun to watch. Can there be anyone in the women’s game who is more fun to watch than GA? To be honest, Even though Liz Kitley has contributed so much to our program, it’s Georgia who is its heart and soul. She is the player who will be long-remembered, like Michael Vick, the player who putour pgramonm the map. Her future is in coaching.

  5. It was a tough game but I like what I saw from some of the freshman.

    For the second game of the season and with many new parts one could see they’re still working on becoming a smooth operation.

    I’m confident their play will improve as they more time together this season.

  6. You could tell from the podcast that Carleigh Wenzel came to play. She is going to be a major part of the team.

  7. Very good write up, David. You captured the vibe: it was basketball heaven indeed, one of the best atmospheres I’ve been in. The Iowa fans really showed up, and the ones around us knew the game and were fun to talk to.

  8. We are very good, but very good doesn’t beat an elite player in a sport like women’s bball.

    Proud of how far we’ve come, but the next step will be the toughest, and we aren’t there this year.

    Sort of like the football team in our glory years, we couldn’t get past Auburn,FSU,LSU, Boise State, and USC in the big games. I fear this team will be the same, just not enough to get to the very top.

    1. “we aren’t there this year.”

      Are you kidding? We played the best player in history of the game who is on the 3rd ranked team in the US and hung with them up to the last., and you are writing us off this year?

      1. Imagine mentally disposing of your teams season after two games, the first of which was a total blowout and the second a four point loss to the best player in ncaa basketball.

        I don’t get the fans of that have this attitude when there are over 100 programs that would switch places with our team in a heartbeat if they had the chance.

        It’s pretty sad. Without valleys the peaks aren’t that great and a 4 point loss to Iowa isn’t much of a valley.

      2. Yep…….it takes a special mix the be a National Champion, and we found out we didn’t have that vs LSU last year and we didn’t have it against a generational player like Clark.

        And that’s ok.

        We have a very, very good team, but these types of games let you know where you are when matched against the best, and we’re just a notch below.

        No ones disposing of this team or the season at all, just pointing out that last step to climb is the biggest of all, and twice now we have failed.

        Sooner or later to be the best you have to beat the best…not just be close.

      3. For a National Championship, probably so, but not for a very good season.

        We have one heck of a team, but only one team can win it all.

    2. Geezzz. It’s the 2nd game of the year. Cannot compare football to basketball as they are completely different and the ladies have 30+ games remaining. There are going to be bumps in the road while Coach Brooks works with them on establishes the rotation

      1. I think VT is going to get better. These tough tests with Iowa and LSU are really going to help this team. I am excited about the potential the team has and look forward to watching them work to fill their potential. Go Hokies!

    3. Come on now, it is the second game of the season! This team is exciting and Coach Brooks will have them rolling when it counts.

      1. I love Coach Brooks, and have said he will go down as the greatest coach ever at VT….we are blessed to have him, and he’s as good a person as he is a coach!

        Love everything about him!

    4. This comment reminds me of the Dr. Pepper commercial where the guy starts burning all his gear and the fans are writing off the season and the sheriff says “Guys – it’s the first play of the game….”

      We are so totally gonna be back to the Final Four this year… just wait!

      1. I agree that could happen, but getting there won’t be good enough, need to win it!

        Shoot for the stars!

    5. Boy a close loss, a few bounces here and extra rebound there and maybe Tech wins by 4. Would we be there then? Or would it have been luck? The team is there, we have deeper bench, got good support from Wenzel (r-Fr), and true Freshman such as Baker. This is the second game of the season, these Freshmen may be a bit raw,but by game 15 they will be toned vetrans ready to rip the opposing team a new &)((*. I’d be afraid to meet them in a dark alley as they might dribble me down the alley and slam dunk me into a dumpster.

      GO HOKIES!!!

    6. The ‘ noles, USC and LSU are the only teams on your list I agree with and all were NC’s. I’d note that no one played USC closer in 2004 than us. What’s more, Xavier Adibi, had Reggie Bush checked until he got hurt. Auburn? Very close game, we played well enough to win apart arom a slow start by Bryan Randall and some quiestionable decision by AB. Boise State? Do you remember the atrocious sidelne call? A colleague at tha ttime who is an ACC Rea advisedme it was a terrible call. Chirs Hazley was our PK that year, his only season as our kicker. Hehadnever beaor attempted a AG in a game and his aist attempt was th eonly one he missed all seaosn, as I recall. We aailed to convert on a 2-pt,conversion and lost by a AG in the ainal moments.

  9. What a great game, even if the Hokies came up short. You realize just how close this team is to being able to win it all. If Ekh or King had found their shooting rhythm (and not been in foul trouble) when Kitley would get double teamed and kick the ball back out, this result is different. The 3-11 and 2-9 FG line shows just how close it was.

    Fouls seemed to be called fairly, even if frustrating. I don’t understand why in women’s BB you can maul someone on a double team inside and it’s not a foul but the slightest contact on a driving player, even if that contact is taking an elbow to the kidney, is a foul

    1. That should have been a foul on Clark. They finally called it on her a few plays later, even though it was less egregious. She was doing that all night.

  10. With so many new players so early in the season I thought the Hokies played well last night. If the Hokies stays healthy (especially Amoore) this team can be special and make a deep run in March.

  11. Great effort by both teams. Great game for Women’s basketball. A couple of calls go the Good Girls’ way and it’s a different story.

    Go Hokies!!!!

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