GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP)Eighth-ranked Virginia Tech didn’t need a hot-shooting performance to extend its winning streak or reach the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament semifinals.
Elizabeth Kitley had 22 points and 10 rebounds to help Virginia Tech beat Miami 68-42 in Friday night’s quarterfinals, a game that saw the Hokies dominate the glass and lock down on the Hurricanes despite an unimpressive shooting performance.
“We can run some pretty offense,” coach Kenny Brooks said. “But we can get down and dirty, too, and rebound the basketball and go out there and defend. They’re tough.”
Georgia Amoore added 16 points with five 3-pointers for the third-seeded Hokies (25-4), who took all drama out of this one quickly en route to their ninth straight win. Virginia Tech ran off 10 straight points to take a 20-5 lead after the first quarter, pushed that margin to 18 before halftime and led by as many as 33 late.
The Hokies had never been to the semifinals before last season. Now, they’re headed there for the second straight year to face No. 13 Duke.
“They’re very connected with each other and what’s going on on both ends of the floor,” Brooks said.
He had plenty of reasons to be.
Miami (19-11) took the first meeting in early January while shooting 53% and scoring 77 points, but this time the connectedness Brooks mentioned helped the Hokies hold the Hurricanes to 24.1% shooting (14 of 58). Virginia Tech also dominated the glass (50-37) and snagged 19 offensive rebounds to finish with a 25-5 edge in second-chance points.
“I think we really found our defense again,” Kitley said. “I think in the middle of ACC play, we kind of lost that a bit.”
Hanna Cavinder scored seven points to lead the sixth-seeded Hurricanes, who made an unexpected run for their first trip to the title game last year. But they got off to a dreadful shooting start that turned into a game-long disaster in this one.
Miami could mount little pushback as Virginia Tech ran out of halftime with 10 straight points to blow the game open and lead 39-15 on Kitley’s stick-back at the 5:22 mark of the third.
“They are in such a rhythm right now,” Miami coach Katie Meier said. “They are on a ridiculous roll right now, and they should be. They’re locked in and they’re dialed in. We just kind of had a little bit of a panic.”
Miami: The Hurricanes entered the final week of the season having lost three of four, all by at least nine points. They had closed the schedule by beating Virginia and then beat Boston College in Thursday’s second round, scoring 85 and 84 points, respectively, while shooting a combined 52%. This time, Miami made 2 of 17 shots in the opening quarter as the game quickly got away.
“Just a very, very immature, poorly played first quarter by us,” Meier said.
Virginia Tech: The Hokies haven’t lost since falling Jan. 26 at now-No. 13 Duke. Along the way, they had shot 48.3% from the field and 38.8% from behind the arc in their previous eight wins, with both percentages good enough to rank in the top 10 nationally if projected for an entire season. The shooting didn’t follow them to Greensboro for the opener (39.4%), but their late-season surge continued all the same.
The 6-foot-6 Kitley, named the ACC player of the year for the second straight season earlier this week, posted her fifth straight double-double – all with at least 20 points – to go with four blocks. … Taylor Soule had 13 points and 10 rebounds for Virginia Tech, while D’asia Gregg added 13 rebounds. … Miami No. 2 scorer Destiny Harden (12.3) had two points on 0-for-5 shooting. Meier said Harden needed medical treatment earlier in the day for an unspecified issue and it was unclear whether she’d be available. … The Hokies have outrebounded opponents by at least 10 five times during their nine-game winning streak.
Miami: Will await its NCAA Tournament seeding.
Virginia Tech: Advanced to play the Blue Devils on Saturday.
Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/aaronbeardap
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