BLACKSBURG, Va. – Elizabeth Kitley scored 31 points to lead No. 9 Virginia Tech to a 72-51 victory over UNC Greensboro on Monday.
Kitley connected on 13 of 22 from the floor and grabbed 10 rebounds to lift the Hokies (3-1) to their second consecutive win in a game in which Virginia Tech’s other two leaders - Georgia Amoore and Cayla King - struggled.
“I think you give UNCG credit,” Virginia Tech coach Kenny Brooks said. “They were the aggressors tonight. I thought they had us on our heels a lot, and if we’re going to be the team that we say we want to be, we have to learn how to come out and be the aggressor.
“We’re just trying to learn each other and just understand our tendencies and who can do what in certain situations. We’ll continue to get better, but I think that team’s going to win a lot of basketball games in their league. So, we’ll take it, and we’ll continue to grow as a group.”
Jayde Gamble scored a career-high 25 points to pace UNC Greensboro (3-2), which saw its three-game winning streak end. Gamble connected on 12 of 19 from the floor.
The Hokies led just 17-16 after the first quarter, but held the Spartans to just field goals in the second quarter. A 17-4 run in which Kitley scored 10 points enabled the Hokies to open a 14-point lead and they were never threatened again. Kitley scored 18 of her team’s 39 first-half points.
“I think, after this game, we’re definitely going to have to be more physical and not let other teams push us around and dictate where we’re going,” Kitley said. “We need to impose our will early.
“I also think a point of emphasis is going to be our start. We started slow, and we can’t afford to do that. We gave up too many points in the first quarter. We let them run their stuff too much and attack and get downhill too much. Other teams are going to take advantage of that.”
UNC Greensboro: The Spartans, who were picked to finished sixth in the Southern Conference in the league’s preseason poll, made things difficult for the Hokies for a while. They have a deep bench, a lot of athleticism and could be a tough out once conference play starts.
Virginia Tech: The Hokies struggled early and this wasn’t their most impressive performance, but they turned it on in the second half, shooting 50% and running away behind Kitley. The two-time All-American was one field goal and three points short of the Cassell Coliseum women’s records in both categories.
“I praised her after the game,” Brooks said. “I thought she was really the only one that played with the intensity, the passion, the focus that we need in order for us to continue to get better, and everyone has to step up and match her intensity, her passion and her focus. I thought she was great tonight and in a lot of areas.”
UNC Greensboro: Hosts Montreat on Wednesday.
Virginia Tech: Plays Kansas in George Town, Cayman Islands, on Friday.