Virginia Tech freshman step up in a rout of Marshall in the NCAA Tournament

Clara Strack, Carleigh Wenzel and Carys Baker step up in the first-round rout of Marshall in the NCAA Tournament.

Virginia Tech v Marshall
Virginia Tech v Marshall / Ryan Hunt/GettyImages

2374. ACC. 92. 447. Final. 49

Thursday, the news that Elizabeth Kitley was going to miss the NCAA Tournament with a torn ACL was made official. With that news, there was going to be more pressure put on the Virginia Tech freshman in their first-ever postseason game in the NCAA Tournament against a Marshall team that plays a unique style that could have made the Hokies primed for an upset.

Not so fast.

Freshman Clara Strack, Carleigh Wenzel, and Carys Baker combined for 35 points and played a huge part in the Hokies rolling over the Thundering Hurd at a sold-out Cassell Coliseum to advance to the second round Sunday.

It was clear from the start what head coach Kenny Brooks wanted, get Strack involved and get her involved early. She scored four of Virginia Tech's first five baskets as they opened the game on a 10-0 run. Things were going so well for the Hokies that they survived the second quarter with Georgia Amoore who picked up her second foul at the end of the first quarter. They outscored Marshall 24-13 to build a 42-25 halftime lead. Strack even hit a 3-pointer from the left wing to send the crowd into a frenzy and was perfect 7-for-7 from the floor. She had 17 points and five rebounds with four blocks.

There was a lot of pressure put on Wenzel with the Thundering Hurd's pressure being a factor and she handled it like a veteran. She only had two turnovers, scored 13 points, and went 9-for-11 from the free-throw line. She dished out seven assists and grabbed six rebounds to aid the Hokies effort.

Not to be outdone, Baker played very good defense, grabbed four rebounds and four of her six points came from the foul line. Yes, she struggled shooting the 3-ball missing all four of her attempts, but she contributed in other ways.

Going forward against either Baylor or Vanderbilt, the Hokies are going to need their younger players to step up and for one game, they did on the biggest stage of the season so far for Virginia Tech.