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No. 1 Virginia Tech Takes Care of Business In Blacksburg Once Again, Defeat No. 9 South Dakota State

By Zachary Ozmon | March 19
Georgia Amoore puts up the "Three Point" signs as she nailed seven of them tonight. (Will Trent)

Virginia Tech cannot be stopped as its historic season and story just keeps on getting better. In its second-round game of the Blacksburg regional for the NCAA tournament, the Hokies displayed great team basketball and had almost all five of their starters in double figures scoring-wise. They fought tooth and nail and took care of business against the South Dakota State Jackrabbits.

"We’re good, and that's not being overzealous; we’re good," Virginia Tech head coach Kenny Brooks exclaimed. Elizabeth is an all-American, Georgia is an all-American, Taylor Soule got us over the hump with her play, Kayana Traylor, what she sacrificed to be in this program, Kayla King, a staple of what we’ve been doing, and, of course, D’asia Gregg.

“I love the way we are connected, and we knew how good we could be. Ever since our loss to Duke, they've had a different look in their eye, and they've continued that to get to this point right now."

After a blowout win against the Chattanooga Mocs in their first-round game Friday night, the Hokies (29-4) defeated the Jackrabbits (29-6) by a final score of 72-60. With their win Sunday night, the Hokies reached 29 wins on the season, setting a new program record. It wasn’t easy by any means for this Tech team, as four starters played upwards of 36 minutes.

The Hokies got off to a quick 14-7 lead midway through the first quarter, hitting four of their first five three-point attempts. Staying beyond the arc to start the game was a key for Virginia Tech and head coach Kenny Brooks, as all-American Elizabeth Kitley had a quiet start to this game. Following the Hokies' jolting start, only five points were scored in the final 6:39 of the first quarter, all of which came from Virginia Tech as they held SDST scoreless for 7:03 that spanned into the second quarter.

South Dakota State broke out of their scoring drought to start the second quarter, but the Hokies' offense ramped up even more as they started finding Elizabeth Kitley inside, who had eight points and was nearing a double-double with 6:38 remaining in the quarter.

South Dakota State continued their off-night shooting as they went on a cold streak, going 1-13 from the field at one point in the game. The Hokies used that to their advantage and went on a 20-4 run with 5:44 remaining in the second. The Jackrabbits stormed back with a quick run of their own as they got within 13 of the Hokies. That's the closest they got in the quarter as the Hokies closed the half on a 10-0 run, ending it by shooting 8-14 from long distance.

“I think that we did a good job knowing that they were going to be coming in physically before the game," star center Elizabeth Kitley stated. We talked about how we needed to be physical, set the tone from the start, and not let them get anything they wanted.

“I think we were just ready and had a lot more intensity than we did on Friday."

Out of the half, South Dakota State played aggressively, getting many open drives to the hoop and drawing fouls against the Hokies' defense as they led the quarter 10-4 with 4:51 remaining. The Hokies and Jackrabbits went cold once again, with both teams going on a streak, shooting 1-7 and 1-6, respectively. The Jackrabbits continued to get inside and get fouls called against the Virginia Tech defense, outscoring them 20-13 in the quarter. If not for Taylor Soule and her seven points in the quarter and a huge three from Georgia Amoore toward the end of it, the lead for the Hokies would have dipped below double digits.

I think we can definitely make it easier for ourselves by not succumbing to other people's aggression," Georgia Amoore said. I think Chattanooga even gave us a run like that, and we just cannot allow that to happen."

Taylor Soule continued to play tough in the fourth quarter like she always has, and Georgia Amoore had three of her seven threes in the quarter. Despite the many attempts from SDST to claw back into the game, the Hokies kept the door closed and finished the game strong, as the Jackrabbits never got within nine points since the first quarter of the game. The Jackrabbits didn't give up easily, as they got shots to fall early in the fourth quarter, but they just outshot the three by this stout Virginia Tech squad.

This program, led by Coach Brooks, is doing something very magical this season in Blacksburg, and the fans have been right behind the team all the way.

“It means a lot to be a part of the program because Hokie Nation is very special. There have been wonderful people that have come through here in all different sports, and to be able to contribute to that means a lot," Coach Brooks said.

“The fan base is second to none; they are very loyal and love to get behind you. They love winners, and when we can go out and do our part, it's very gratifying because to be able to give back to them and have them be very patient with us is special."

The Hokies are moving on to the Sweet Sixteen for the first time since 1999 and will face the winner of No. 4 Tennessee and No. 12 Toledo next weekend in Seattle.

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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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