No. 8 Virginia Tech tops No. 13 Duke, reaches 1st ACC finals
GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) — Virginia Tech has reached the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament championship game for the first time in school history.
Now it wants more.
Georgia Amoore scored 24 points on six 3-pointers, and the eighth-ranked Hokies defeated No. 13 Duke 58-37 to set up a championship game tilt with unranked Louisville, which knocked off top-seeded and No. 10 ranked Notre Dame 64-38 in the other semifinal game Saturday at the Greensboro Coliseum.
“When I first got to Tech we were hoping to win games,” Kitley said. “It’s nice to be at the point where we expect to win these games. We want this next one really bad and we are all really excited for it.”
Added teammate Cayla King: “It is time to break some (school) records in the postseason.”
Amoore finished 9 of 16 from the field, including 6 of 8 from beyond the arc, to go along with seven assists and five rebounds. ACC player of the year Elizabeth Kitley added eight points and 11 rebounds for the Hokies (26-4), who won their 10th straight game.
Elizabeth Balogun had nine points for Duke (25-6).
The Hokies haven’t lost since falling 66-55 at Duke on Jan. 29, a defeat they avenged with a 16-point victory over the Blue Devils in mid-February.
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Virginia Tech, the tournament’s No. 3 seed, blew open a close game with a 17-0 run to close the second quarter, giving it a 36-18 halftime lead behind Amoore’s hot shooting. The Hokies made 7 of 9 shots from beyond the arc in the first two quarters — including a 4-for-4 effort from Amoore.
“When you give them open looks, they are probably the best team in the league at making you pay for it,” Duke coach Kara Lawson said.
Duke never got back to within double digits in the second half. Kitley made it a 20-point game in the fourth quarter when she scored on a layup after a Duke turnover in the backcourt.
The Blue Devils, led by Kennedy Brown, did a nice job defending Kitley for the most part, holding her to 4 of 10 shooting.
But Virginia Tech coach Kenny Brooks credited Kitley for being an unselfish player, saying they used the attention she commands on offense to get other players open — like Amoore popping out on screens for open looks — and it worked.
“Today she was more of a decoy. Not too many superstars are OK with that,” Brooks said.
Duke forced 20 Virginia Tech turnovers but shot just 27% from the field and went 1 of 15 from 3-point range.
Virginia Tech: The Hokies are on a serious roll and can secure an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament with a win Sunday. They may not have done enough to earn a No. 1 seed, but it’s hard to imagine them falling lower than a 2-seed at this point, providing they don’t falter against Louisville. Either way, this is a team to watch in March. “This is the smartest team I have ever coached,” Brooks said.
Duke: The Blue Devils play good defense — at times great defense — but that won’t be enough if they want to make a run in the NCAA Tournament. Duke, which scored only 44 points in its quarterfinal win over North Carolina, needs to find a go-to scorer. “We have been a good offensive team at times this year, but we have been inconstant of late,” Lawson said. “We are fortunate that there is a two-week break and we can really dig in and get better, because we do have a lot of talented offensive players here.”
Virginia Tech: Faces fourth-seeded Louisville in the ACC title game on Sunday.
Duke: Awaits NCAA Tournament seeding.
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