#11 Virginia Tech beats Kentucky and then…

After three dominant home wins to open their 2022-2023 season, #11 Virginia Tech Women’s Basketball headed out of the country to the Bahamas to take their first tests of the season against Kentucky and Missouri. Unsurprisingly, the Hokies passed those tests with ease.

The Hokies opened their time in Nassau with an 82-74 win over Kentucky in a game not quite as close as the score would suggest before beating Missouri 73-57 with a dominant second half. The wins improve the Hokies to 5-0, with Tech potentially taking a win over Longwood this Sunday, away from a jump into the top 10 before having their two toughest tests of the season against a pair of teams ranked in the top 25 of the preseason, Nebraska (home) and Tennessee (on the road) next week.

So how did the Hokies make business in the Bahamas?

Well, they started about 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 under 2 minutes put the Wildcats within 6 minutes.

It wasn’t the prettiest game for the Hokies, with Kentucky turning 20 VT turnovers into 27 points, the main reason this game ended up being as close as it was. Other than that, Tech mostly controlled this game on the glass with a 19-10 second chance point advantage. Tech also went 20-26 at the free throw line compared to Kentucky’s 12-18, which ultimately proved important.

Unsurprisingly, Elizabeth Kitley was the star of this opener with 25 points on an efficient 8-15 shooting 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 6-12 shooting plus 6 rebounds, while Taylor Soule added 15 points on 7-12 shooting plus 7 rebounds. Georgia Amoore had 14 points of her own, Kayana Traylor had 9 off the bench plus 7 assists and Cayla King had 3.

So could Tech hold on in game 2 in the Bahamas?

Well, they got off to a slow start and actually trailed by 2 at halftime before having a dominant 23-9 third quarter where they took control of this game. Tech continued their dominance in the fourth quarter, where the lead only briefly slipped from the double digits.

Dominance low was key as the Hokies had a 30-18 point in paint advantage plus an 11-6 offensive rebound advantage that became a 15-5 second chance point advantage. Kitley again led the way in the paint even though she didn’t have her most efficient day with 17 points on 7-18 shooting and 3-4 at the free throw line, though she also added 10 rebounds for another double-double plus 2 blocks.

Tech also cleared their turnovers with only 9 in this game including only 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 in scoring from the bench with 18 points on 5-9 shooting from the field and 7-8 from the free throw line plus 6 rebounds and 4 assists. D’Asia Gregg added 8 points and 4 rebounds from 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 that competition will get tougher for the Hokies next week, when they take on Nebraska and Tennessee, but Tech passed their toughest test yet with flying colors. They also did this with all 5 of their former All-American or All-Conference players being among the top 3 scorers in at least one of their games and only Soule failed to reach the double-digit average over the 2 games to get with 9.5. Combine that with Tech improving some of their battle against Kentucky, and this team has shown they are more than worthy of being a top 10 team with a chance to clear their Final Four contender status next week to make.

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