For the second time in a month, the 16th-ranked Virginia Tech women's basketball team and third-ranked North Carolina State matched up in a Top 20 battle. In the first meeting on Jan. 7 in Blacksburg, the Hokies rallied from an 11-point fourth-quarter deficit to stun the then-undefeated Wolfpack, 63-62, on an Elizabeth Kitley basket off an inbounds pass with 0.9 seconds remaining.
That win was impressive, but the more impressive one happened Thursday night at Reynolds Coliseum in Raleigh, North Carolina in the rematch. The Hokies improved to 3-40 all-time in matchups against a Top 3 team, all three wins are over NC State, with an impressive defensive performance on the road holding NC State to one field goal over the final six minutes to complete the season sweep which could come into play at the end f the regular season in tiebreakers for seeding in the ACC Tournament.
Here are some key observations after Virginia Tech improved to 19-4 overall and 10-2 in the ACC and keep them on top of the standings.
- First and foremost, you have to give credit where credit is due. The Hokies struggled from the field in the fourth quarter, they had two shot clock violations, but they were able to withstand that on the road because of their defense. They held the Wolfpack to one field goal over the final six minutes to pull out the win. Without a doubt, despite what North Carolina coach Courtney Banghart says, Virginia Tech's defense won this game.
- It was another strong night from Kitley and Georgia Amoore. Kitley recorded her 73rd double-double with 25 points and 13 rebounds including a basket off an offensive rebound to give them a 67-65 lead late in the game to seal it. Amoore nearly had a triple-double finishing with 12 points, 10 assists, and eight rebounds in another tremendous night.
- The Hokies have been waiting for Cayla King and Matilda Ekh to step up in a big game with Kitley and Amoore and that was the case against NC State. Ekh finished with 14 points on four 3-pointers and King had 13 points on four of her 3-pointers.
- Lost in the win was the contributions from Clara Strack off the bench. The freshman from Buffalo had five points, eight rebounds, and two blocks. She is becoming a key player as the season goes along off the bench for head coach Kenny Brooks.
- Aziaha James had 17 first-half points for the Wolfpack and that's what she finished with. The Hokies did a nice job in the second half defensively making it hard for her to get a good look. Another key, Virginia Tech held NC State to a lot of one-and-done shots.
- The Hokies shot 40% from the field and 36% from behind the arc. They were 11-for-30 on 3-pointers and when they are making at least 10 a night and getting the contributions from King and Ekh, they are tough to defend with Kitley and Amoore also out there.
Virginia Tech will look to extend their six-game winning streak Sunday afternoon at home when they Boston College (11-14) before hosting Duke next Thursday night at Cassell Coliseum.