Playing their third-ranked opponent so far this season, the No. 13 Virginia Tech women's basketball team was looking for a signature win. They lost their first two matchups against ranked teams, Iowa and LSU. It was not looking good through three-quarters Sunday against No. 3 and undefeated North Carolina State, but all of a sudden, things changed over the final 10 minutes.
Virginia Tech outscored the Wolfpack, 18-10, in the final quarter and closed the game on a 14-2 run including an Elizabeth Kitley basket off an inbound set with 0.9 seconds left to knock NC State from the ranks of the unbeaten and give Kenny Brooks and his team their first signature win of the 2023-24 season. Here are three takeaways from the Hokies win that improved them to 12-2 overall and 3-0 in the ACC, while NC State fell to 14-1 and 2-1 in the ACC.
1. Hokies turned up the defense in the fourth quarter
Through the first three-quarters of the game, Virginia Tech could not string stops together. In the third quarter, the Wolfpack put up 28 points and was shot a sizzling 64% in the quarter. That all changed in the final seven minutes when the Hokies left them to just a Saniya Rivers layup with 2.1 seconds left. However, Brooks drew up the pass to Kitley for the game-winning basket to give them the much-needed victory. NC State went 1-for-12 from the field over the final seven minutes and was forced into some tough shots they weren't earlier.
2. Georgia Amoore & Kitley keyed the fourth quarter rally
Virginia Tech scored 18 fourth-quarter points and Georgia Amoore and Kitley had nine a piece. Amoore knocked down a huge 3-pointer during the 14-2 run to close the game and Kitley gave the Hokies the lead at 61-60 with a basket off an offensive rebound. After Rivers gave NC State the lead, Kitley scored the game-winner. On the defensive end, Kitley changed shots at the rim late in the game and Amoore was out and running the offense and finished with seven assists. It was not surprising to see Tech's two best players lead the rally.
3. Virginia Tech lacks depth
Brooks has been trying to find depth this season, but against the Wolfpack, the lack of depth was noticable after what you saw NC State get from their bench. Freshman Laci Steele had eight points off the bench and four of their starters had eight or more points. For Virginia Tech, Amoore and Kitley combined for 48 of their 63 points with Matilda Ekh and Carys Baker each having six. Baker's were on two 3-pointers in the second quarter. Getting more from role players in big games like Sunday is key going forward for Virginia Tech.
Kitley finished with 27 points and 12 rebounds for her 67th career double-double and Amoore had 21 points and seven assists. Virginia Tech, which averages 9.5 3-pointers a game was just 6-for-22 from behind the arc and finished 27-for-65 from the field. In the end, a win is a win and this one that the Hokies needed against a ranked opponent.