HIGH POINT, N.C. (AP) — Elizabeth Kitley scored 25 points and dished out a career-best seven assists as No. 8 Virginia Tech captured an 86-66 road victory over High Point on Wednesday night.
High Point — whose tallest players are 6-foot-1 — didn’t have an answer for the 6-6 Kitley. The reigning ACC Player of the Year shot a season-high 78.5% from the floor, making 11-of-14 field goals, and had seven rebounds and four blocks for the Hokies (11-1).
“Honestly, I played a little bit different than I normally do. Normally, I’m a bit more face-up with finesse moves in the post, but we worked on a lot more power-type moves,” Kitley said. “We run a lot of plays to get ready for double teams so I can see my teammates. We also did a good job moving without the ball.”
Taylor Soule added 24 points and Kayana Traylor chipped in 22 for Virginia Tech. It’s the first time in Hokies’ program history that three players have had more than 20 points in a single game.
Claire Wyatt led High Point (2-8) with 17 points on 5-of-7 shooting from 3-point land. Callie Scheier added 11 points and Nakyah Terrell had 10.
“I’m definitely proud of our girls’ effort today. I thought we played well. It’s a big task,” High Point coach Chelsea Banbury said. “They’re big. They’re athletic. (Kitley) is tough for anyone to handle. She had a good game tonight. But I thought, offensively, we were able to get some open shots.”
The Panthers hung around with the Hokies for much of the first half and even briefly led by two points in the early portions of the game. Virginia Tech finally pulled away with a 15-9 run to take a double-digit lead into halftime. Traylor had seven points during that stretch, and then she sank back-to-back 3-pointers to start the third quarter, pushing the Hokies’ lead to 16 points.
Virginia Tech went on to lead by as much as 25 points.
“We knew their strength was to shoot the 3, and we knew our strength was size. So, we tried to pound it inside a little bit and the kids really executed that,” Virginia Tech coach Kenny Brooks said. “We still got a lot of work to do. But tonight, I thought we played well in stretches.”
Virginia Tech: Sharp passing and shooting helped the Hokies bounce back from their first loss of the season. Virginia Tech dished out a season-high 21 assists and scored 58 points in the paint. The victory marks the fourth time Virginia Tech has gone undefeated in nonconference play in coach Kenny Brooks’ seven seasons at the helm.
High Point: The preseason Big South favorites have yet to beat a Division I opponent. But High Point showed in spurts how good it can be. Virginia Tech entered the game with the nation’s fifth-best 3-point defense, allowing opponents to shoot just 22.7% from deep, but the Panthers burned the Hokies to shoot 8-of-17, a 47% clip. Consistently shooting like that should translate into wins in the Big South.
Playing at High Point was a homecoming of sorts for Kitley and Cayla King. The senior Virginia Tech duo grew up in North Carolina’s Triad region and played their prep ball at Northwest Guilford High School, about 15 miles north of High Point.
There were more than a handful of fans clad in Virginia Tech maroon who loudly cheered each time Kitley or King made a play.
“It was really cool,” Kitley said. “I appreciate my coaches for making this happen. This has to be the most people that me and Cayla have had come (to a game). I think we were giving (High Point’s) fans a run for their money.”
King didn’t score, but finished with two boards, a block and an assist.
Virginia Tech dropped two spots in the latest AP Top 25 Poll after losing at home Sunday to No. 5 Notre Dame. This win should secure the Hokies’ spot in the top 10 heading into the thick of ACC play.
Virginia Tech: ACC play continues Dec. 29 at Clemson.
High Point: Begins Big South play hosting Longwood on Dec. 29.
AP women’s college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-womens-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25