It was all Hokies from the jump on Sunday afternoon in Cassell Coliseum as they crushed Radford in a New River Valley matinee, 85-40.
“I thought we made strides in trying to be who we wanted to be,” Brooks said. “We’re getting some positive production from some younger players, all the while they’re getting valuable minutes with the veterans, and we’re starting to understand each other and where we’re supposed to be.”
Virginia Tech (7-2) shot 50 percent in the first quarter (10-of-20) and led 22-4 after the first 10 minutes while playing stifling defense. The Highlanders (2-8) did not score for the first 5:50 of the contest and were 6-of-30 (20%) in the first half. It was a 26-point game at intermission, 48-22.
The Hokies didn’t let off the gas in the second half and scored 27 unanswered points over a 7:12 stretch that dated back to the end of the second quarter.
Tech shot 46 percent for the game and held the Highlanders to just 11 made field goals (on 57 baskets — 19%) while forcing 20 turnovers. The second-half numbers were absurd — Radford was 5-of-27, including a 0-of-15 mark in the third quarter. It was the fifth-lowest shooting percentage by an opponent in Cassell Coliseum in Tech history, the second-lowest in the Brooks era (Longwood, Nov. 2022).
“I thought in the first quarter and third quarter in particular, we were very good and taking away a lot of their opportunities,” Brooks said of his defense. “We’re very long. I think we had like 12 blocks tonight. So a lot of times someone will get a step on us and rotations are good and we’re able to come over and block some shots. I thought it got away from us a little bit in the second quarter and the fourth quarter, and we were trying to mix and match some lineups, but still, this was a great opportunity for us to do that.”
The Hokies used all 10 of their available players against Radford and play most significant minutes. Elizabeth Kitley led the way in scoring with 16 points on 6-of-10 shooting with 13 rebounds, good for her seventh double-double of the year, while Georgia Amoore added 15 points (6-of-13), three assists and three blocks.
A number of other players chipped in. Matilda Ekh joined Kitley and Amoore in double figures with 12 points behind two made 3-pointers, as did Carleigh Wenzel, who had 11. She also had five assists and four rebounds.
True freshmen Carys Baker and Clara Strack both had productive afternoons. Baker had nine points and four boards while Strack had nine and 10. Cayla King also scored eight points on 2-of-5 shooting from deep.
“Clara Strack continues to get better,” Brooks said. “We continue to get comfortable with her and what she’s able to do, and I think she continues to get comfortable playing multiple positions. It’s not just a situation where she’s going to come in for Liz and Liz comes back in for her; they’re playing alongside each other, so that takes a little bit of time to get used to. Clara’s never played power forward before in her life, and I think she’s really responded positively.
“… Carys Baker is really impressive as well. Spreads the floor for us, she shoots the ball exceptionally well. She’s being where she’s supposed to be. Those two in particular, and Carleigh’s done a really good job. Those three, they’re all freshmen and they’re going to step up and be able to contribute for us, and they’re going to have to, and that’s something that I learned this week.”
Rose Micheaux added four points, three rebounds and two assists, and though Olivia Summiel did not score, she contributed five boards and two dimes.
Though they’ve had a few outstanding outings this year, most evident in Summiel’s 16-point performance vs. Tulane and Micheaux’s 12-point game vs. Houston Christian, the two transfers have yet to find their consistency so far this season, which shows it can take some time to get acclimated with a new team.
“It just goes to prove that it’s not easy to just plug and play,” Brooks said. “They both are coming from a system that they have been used to for a couple years at least, and they’re coming here and trying to figure out how to play off of Georgia, how to play off of Liz. Right now, we just need whoever’s going to be able to step up and get more comfortable.
“That’s why we’re still looking and watching and that’s why you see the distribution of minutes is relatively even so they can get the opportunity to show that they can play. We’re still evaluating.”
Radford was led by Ashlyn Traylor-Walker’s 16 points, 11 of which came from the free throw line. She’s one of three sisters on the Highlanders roster, all of whom are sisters of former Tech women’s basketball player and ACC champion Kayana Traylor.
Taniya Hanner and Joi Williams each scored seven points for Radford while Pa’Shence Traylor-Walker and Maci Rhoades had five apiece.
The Hokies have a week of rest before traveling to Piscataway, N.J., to face Rutgers next Sunday at 5:30 p.m. ET on FS1. It’ll be the eighth all-time meeting, the first since Nov. 2018, and Tech’s second road trip of the season. Brooks has a chance to win his 500th game as a head coach, too, in a place Tech is 0-4 in its history.
“This upcoming week kind of shines a light on what [the players] actually go through,” Brooks said. “They’re student-athletes. Some of them had exams yesterday … and I think some of them have either exams tomorrow or projects they have to turn in. They take it very seriously and they’re going to finish it up and then we have a couple of days where we really get to continue to prepare to be who we want to be as we go into ACC play.
“Rutgers is going to be a very, very tough place to play. I’ve never been there on the women’s side but I’ve been there as a coach on the men’s side, but it is historic. They have some talented players, they play hard, they’re still trying to put it together, but we’re going to use it as a business trip because it’s a great opportunity for us to get another win against a good program.”
Box Score: No. 15 Virginia Tech 85, Radford 40