#11 Virginia Tech beats Kentucky and then…

After three dominant home wins to open the 2022-23 season, the No. 11 Virginia Tech Women’s Basketball traveled out of country to the Bahamas to face her first Tests of the season against Kentucky and Missouri. Not surprisingly, the Hokies passed these tests with ease.

The Hokies opened their time in Nassau with an 82-74 win over Kentucky in a game that wasn’t as close as the result might suggest, before beating Missouri 73-57 with a dominant second half. The wins take the Hokies 5-0, with Tech potentially picking up a win over Longwood this Sunday before they jump into the top 10 before having their two toughest Tests of the season against two teams inside the top 25 preseason, Nebraska (at home) and Tennessee (away) next week.

So how did the Hokies do business in the Bahamas?

Well, they started as strong as they could with a dominant 29-8 first quarter in their Bahamian opener against Kentucky, led by a quick start from Ashley Owusu. From there, the Hokies hit cruise control and maintained their 15-20 point lead for most of the game before a late 10-0 run for the Wildcats that started just 2 minutes from time saw the Wildcats within 6 minutes.

It wasn’t the prettiest game for the Hokies, as Kentucky turned 20 VT turnovers into 27 points, which was the main reason this game ended as close as it was. That being said, Tech controlled this game especially on the glass with a 19-10 second points advantage. Tech also went 20-26 on the free throw line compared to 12-18 for Kentucky, which proved important in the end.

Not surprisingly, Elizabeth Kitley was the star of that opening game, with 25 points on an efficient 8-15 shoot plus 9-10 from the free throw line plus 13 rebounds including 3 offensive and 3 blocks. Ashley Owusu also played a big part as she added 16 points on a 6-12 shooting plus 6 rebounds while Taylor Soule added 15 points on a 7-12 shooting plus 7 rebounds. Georgia Amoore had 14 points of her own while Kayana Traylor had 9 from the bench plus 7 assists and Cayla King had 3.

So could Tech continue in Game 2 in the Bahamas?

Well, they got off to a slow start and were actually 2 down at halftime before having a dominant 23-9 third quarter that saw them take control of the game. Tech continued its dominance into the fourth quarter, where the lead only briefly fell by double digits.

Bottom end dominance was key as the Hokies had a 30-18 point paint advantage as well as an 11-6 offensive rebound advantage that turned into a 15-5 second chance point advantage. Kitley led the paint again, albeit not having her most efficient day with 17 points on 7-18 shooting and 3-4 at the free throw line, although she also added 10 rebounds for another double-double plus 2 blocks.

Tech also cleaned up her turnovers with just 9 in the game, including just 1 from point guard Georgia Amoore, who also had 15 points, 6 assists and 3 rebounds in a very good game for her. Kayana Traylor actually led the Hokies with 18 points on 5-9 shots from the field and 7-8 from the free throw line plus 6 reboudns and 4 assists. D’Asia Gregg added 8 points and 4 rebounds off the bench while Ashley Owusu had 6 points and 3 rebounds. Cayla King had 5 points and 3 rebounds while Taylor Soule had 4 points and 4 rebounds.

There’s no doubt the competition will continue to get tougher for the Hokies next week as they take on Nebraska and Tennessee, but Tech passed their toughest test yet with flying colors. They did so too, with all 5 of their former All-American or All-Conference players being in the top 3 scorers in at least one of their games and only Soule failing to score double digits in the two games with a 9.5. Combine that with improving Tech in some of their fights against Kentucky, and this team has shown it’s more than worthy of being a top 10 team with a chance of earning its Final Four contender status next week to make clear.

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