No. 11 Virginia Tech lost its first ACC game of the season on Sunday in Tallahassee, falling 89-81 to No. 21 Florida State. The program had won its last 15 games against conference opponents.
The two top-25 foes traded leads all afternoon on ESPN but the Hokies (13-3, 4-1 ACC) couldn’t match the Seminoles’ (14-4, 5-1) fourth-quarter run. FSU outscored Tech 25-16 in the final period, which included a 15-0 run that carried over from the third quarter and swung the momentum back in its direction. Tech had multiple chances in the final few minutes that didn’t fall.
“We just weren’t the better team today, start to finish,” Virginia Tech head coach Kenny Brooks said on the Virginia Tech Sports Network after the game. “We took a little too long to adjust to their scheme, gave up 23 points before the first media timeout. We made the adjustment and then we really got to the point where we got a lead and we didn’t still have that mentality where we were really going to try to put that pedal down on the gas.
“We didn’t have that mentality that we needed to have. Now, they’re a good basketball team, especially when they play at home, and their guards did what they needed to do and their guards were spectacular today and we relied too much on Liz [Kitley]. We needed more help, she needed more help.”
As usual, Elizabeth Kitley was the story for the Hokies. She finished with 30 points (14-of-28) and 12 rebounds, the fourth time this season she’s had a 30-10 double-double. The All-American center had five assists, too. Through five league games, she’s averaging 25 points and 11 rebounds per game.
She didn’t have enough help when it mattered, though. Tech received big boosts from Matilda Ekh (14 points, 4-of-6 3FG) and Rose Micheaux (12 points, 5-of-7 FG), but after shooting 19-of-34 (56%) in the first half, it was just 14-of-36 (39%) in the second. That included a 6-of-16 mark (38%) in the fourth quarter, and it missed six of its final seven field goals.
Georgia Amoore finished with 13 points and eight assists but turned the ball over four times and was just 6-of-17 from the field. She dealt with foul trouble in the first half — and eventually fouled out late — which, combined with the foul trouble of backup point guard Carleigh Wenzel, forced the Hokies to change some things up. For the final 4:30 of the first half, they rolled with a rotation of Cayla King, Matilda Ekh, Olivia Summiel/Carys Baker, Clara Strack/Rose Micheaux and Kitley.
At the time they entered, Tech trailed by one, 33-32. Over the final few minutes, that group outscored FSU 14-7 and took a 46-40 lead into halftime.
“That was the best stretch we had,” Brooks said. “We just didn’t have consistency. I thought Georgia played a little bit fast today and we needed her to keep her composure against teams like this who want to put pressure on her full-court. She’s got to be better than that. I thought Cayla came in and did a really good job, everybody who played in that second quarter did a really good job for us, but we’ve just got to be a little bit more consistent.”
The Hokies led for the entirety of the third quarter but struggled to contain the Seminoles’ main quartet. Brooks made the switch to a 2-3 zone in the second quarter, which helped Tech get some stops. The ‘Noles figured some things out as the game wore on, however, and lit Tech up for a 69 percent clip in the third quarter (9-of-13) and was 54 percent (7-of-13) in the fourth.
Sara Bejedi was nearly unstoppable from beyond the arc. She scored a career-high 31 points for Florida State on 9-of-15 shooting, including 5-of-9 from 3-point range, and knocked down eight of her 12 free throws. She grabbed eight rebounds and dished out three assists too.
Ta’Niya Latson scored 20 for FSU, nine of which came from the foul line, and had eight assists. Makayla Timpson added 18 points (on 9-of-15 FG) and five boards down low while O’Mariah Gordon chipped in 17 points (3-of-3 3FG), four rebounds and four assists.
King had five points, six boards and six dimes for Tech while Strack and Summiel each added a basket — plus seven and four rebounds, respectively — and Baker knocked down one 3-pointer. But despite outrebounding FSU 36 to 32 and only turning it over 11 times, Virginia Tech couldn’t pull out the win on the road.
The Hokies are back in action on Thursday in Durham, N.C., at 8 p.m. ET as they face Duke (11-5, 3-2). The Blue Devils blew the doors off Georgia Tech on Sunday in an 84-46 victory. Tech won two of the three matchups last season.