No. 9 Virginia Tech held off Kansas for a 59-58 victory in the Cayman Islands Classic on Friday evening.
“We had some unforced errors, and give them credit,” Tech head coach Kenny Brooks said on FloSports after the game. “They’re a very good basketball team, a championship-caliber basketball team. I think they’re a top-25 team. And to come away with the win, we’re very fortunate.
“I messed a lot of the stuff up. I’m still trying to get to know these kids and I’m calling too many plays and we’re stagnant too many times. I’ve got to let them play.”
The Hokies (4-1) came out on the positive side of a hard-fought battle with the Jayhawks (2-2), the reigning WNIT champions. The game featured seven ties and 16 lead changes.
Elizabeth Kitley was phenomenal and had her second straight 30-point, 10-rebound performance, finishing with 31 points on 11-of-22 shooting with 18 boards. She was 9-of-10 from the free throw line, too, and had five blocks.
Outside of her, however, the Hokies struggled. They were extremely stagnant offensively and turned it over 21 times. Nine of those came from Georgia Amoore, a career low. She scored 14 points, though, and had seven assists.
Tech didn’t receive many contributions from elsewhere. It had just one point off the bench — a free throw from Carleigh Wenzel — and Brooks played his starters for most of the contest. Rose Micheaux had six points and four rebounds, Matilda Ekh had two and three while Cayla King had five and three.
Tech shot 42 percent (22-of-53) for the game but cooled down over the course of 40 minutes. After an 8-of-14 first quarter, it was 6-of-16 in the third and 3-of-11 in the fourth. One of those late baskets was Amoore’s 3-pointer with 2:57 remaining that iced the game.
On the other end, Virginia Tech was solid, limiting Kansas to just 39 percent for the game. Taiyanna Jackson, one of the better centers in the U.S., had just eight points and four rebounds and spent much of the game in foul trouble. S’Mya Nichols (13 points, 5-of-13 FG) and Zakiyah Franklin (12 points, 4-of-13) led the way in terms of scoring. The Jayhawks had just two assists to 15 turnovers.
Though it wasn’t pretty, it’s a good result for the Hokies against a team that should make the NCAA Tournament come March. They return to action at 11 a.m. ET on Saturday morning vs. Tulane.
Brooks: “These kids are trying to learn each other and they had some opportunities where they didn’t do what they were supposed to do, but that’s what happens in November, and when you can win in November, that’s really good.”
Box Score: No. 9 Virginia Tech 59, Kansas 58