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Elizabeth Kitley Shines, No. 14 Virginia Tech Handles Clemson 74-62

By Zachary Ozmon | January 21
(Will Trent)

With snow-stricken ground and cold winds blowing throughout the city of Blacksburg, the No. 14 Virginia Tech Hokies (14-4, 5-2 ACC) treated their fans to a warm win against the Clemson Tigers (8-11, 1-6 ACC), running away with a 74-62 win.

The Hokies were glad to be back at home following two tough road losses to No. 21 Florida State and Duke this past week. Still missing Georgia Amoore after she suffered a head injury this past Thursday during the matchup against Duke, the Hokies had some adversity to deal with and something to prove coming in.

"We've never played that long without Georgia; I think over 101 games, this is my first time playing without her," said Head Coach Kenny Brooks.

"It's no secret we are built around Georgia and Liz, and when one of them is not there, it's going to take a little bit of time to get adjusted."

Luckily for Virginia Tech, they still had their other Queen of Cassell on the court, Elizabeth Kitley. Kitley had only nine points at the half but quickly got rolling in the second half and became an oven for her team, ending the night with 31 points and 15 made FGs, a new record in Cassell Coliseum.

"We cannot take her greatness for granted; she has 31 and eight, and that's a career game for a lot of people," said Brooks.

"So many people want to pick her game apart because she's been consistent for five years. People get bored with her 20 and 11, and they want me to teach her different moves. She plays the way she plays, and she's phenomenal at it."

Despite the great performance by Kitley, it wasn’t all flowers and sunshine, as turnovers were a great factor in this game, as the Hokies had 20, most of which came in the first half.

In giving more time to the freshman guards Carleigh Wenzel and Samyha Suffren, rookie mistakes were bound to occur, but they should be proud of the steps they took this game.

"I think they did a great job, and I'm so proud of both of them," said Matilda Ekh.

"Everything starts with Georgia, and with her out, we knew we had to play a little different. Both of them stepped up and did some really good work."

The Tigers kept up with the Hokies in the first half, though, as they went into the half only trailing by two. The Hokies just didn’t look like themselves in the first half, which may be in part due to losing Amoore last game and just trying to get their footing.

"We just needed to be a little more focused, because we made some stupid mistakes in the first half—something we shouldn't be making," said Ekh.

The second half was a different story as the team cleaned up their turnover act and ultimately played tougher than the previous half.

Matilda Ekh and Cayla King filled in some of the missing pieces nicely, as Ekh finished with 16 points and King with nine assists.

The three-ball was working for Ekh as she knocked down four of the seven Hokie threes. King, who exited the game in the fourth quarter with a knee injury, contributed, but not in the way you would expect, as she took over much of the point guard role, a position she hasn’t had experience with since her high school days.

"Cayla is like the heart of this team, and a lot of us felt for her when she got injured," said Elizabeth Kitley.

"We also knew that we had a game to play and a game to finish; we've been in that spot, like when Georgia went down at Duke, and this was another opportunity to pick up the slack and do what we had to do to finish the game strong."

In a game filled with shortcomings, tough stretches, and ultimately a victory, the Hokies played hard through and through and picked up a much-needed conference win, moving them to 5-2 in conference play.

Virginia Tech will be back at home on January 25th to take on Georgia Tech for a 6:00 p.m. tip-off. The Yellow Jackets are coming off a victory against Boston College and look to bolster their conference record with an upset over the Hokies.

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Born in Chesapeake and raised into a family of hokies, Virginia Tech is where I call home now. Attended New River Community College as a freshman and now a sophomore at VT as a transfer student in Fall 2022. Majoring in Sports Media and Analytics, I’m excited for what’s to come for me as a student at VT.

Virginia Tech sports has always been something I have been a fan of. From afternoons in Lane Stadium to nights in Cassell Coliseum, I have loved every second of it no matter the outcome.

One of my first memories of being a Tech fan was our upset win against Ohio State 35-21 where CB Donovan Riley had the game sealing pick-6. More recently, beating UNC in 6 overtimes, our run to the sweet 16, and of course winning the men’s basketball ACC Championship with upsets over UNC and Duke.

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