Taylor Soule scored 21 points to lead No. 7 Virginia Tech to an 86-48 victory over UNC Asheville on Saturday.
Soule connected on 7 of 10 from the floor and Elizabeth Kitley added 18 points for the Hokies, who moved to 10-0 for the third time in coach Kenny Brooks’ seven seasons. The victory sets up a top-10 showdown next weekend when Virginia Tech hosts No. 5 Notre Dame.
“Obviously, it’s a big opportunity just to continue to get our name out there,” Kitley said. “I think a lot of people will be watching that game, and if we play how we can, even more people will respect us and what we’re about.”
Jordaynia Ivie led UNC Asheville (4-4) with 16 points.
Virginia Tech, which never trailed, closed the first half with an 18-4 run to take a 41-19 lead at halftime. The Hokies built their lead to as many as 34 in the second half.
The Hokies, who entered the game ranked fourth nationally in scoring defense and 12th in field-goal percentage defense, held UNC Asheville to just 33.9% shooting (19 of 56).
“You know when you’re a bad defensive team, and you when you’re a good defensive team — and we know we’re a good defensive team,” Brooks said. “I talked about it extensively at the ACC media day, just how excited I was about the possibilities of our defense getting better because we were really good defensively last year. Now these kids have gotten a year older, and I think we’re even better this year.”
Kitley added 10 rebounds for Virginia Tech, which shot 50% (30 of 60) and had six players in double figures. Cayla King finished with 12 points, and Georgia Amoore had 10 points and 10 assists.
“I love where we are,” Brooks said. “I like what we’re doing. Obviously, 10-0, you’re happy with it. Sometimes, you’re 10-0, and you have a lot of questions. We’re 10-0, and I think we have a lot of possibilities.”
UNC Asheville: The Bulldogs played the last of their two nonconference games against Power Five teams this season. They lost to Florida and Virginia Tech by an average of 42 points.
Virginia Tech: The Hokies used the game to build some depth after losing starter Ashley Owusu this past week. Owusu underwent surgery for a broken pinkie finger on her shooting hand after injuring herself in the Hokies’ 85-54 win over Nebraska on Dec. 1. She will be out indefinitely. She was averaging 10.4 points per game.
“It’s (Owusu’s injury) given other people opportunities,” Brooks said. “I just think that we’re going to be even better when Ashley’s able to come back.”
Following the game, Brooks compared Soule, a three-time All-ACC performer at Boston College before transferring to Virginia Tech, to Dallas Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons, who plays multiple positions in different situations. Soule’s 21 points were a season high.
“He (Parsons) probably doesn’t fit their scheme and what they want to do, but he’s so dynamic that they’ve got to let him play,” Brooks said. “That’s what we do with Taylor. We tell her to be disciplined, but then we also give her the reins to just go.”
Said Soule: “Coming to Virginia Tech, it was definitely different because, although this is my fifth year playing in the ACC, you’ve got to kind of figure out what your role is without stepping on anybody’s toes. When you’re playing along so many great basketball players, it might take a little time. They just give me confidence to play my game and be confident in that role.”
UNC Asheville: The Bulldogs host East Tennessee State on Saturday.
Virginia Tech: The Hokies host No. 5 Notre Dame on Sunday.