AllNCAA Sports

2023 Women’s NCAA Tournament Recap: #1 Virginia Tech vs. #9 South Dakota State (3-19-23)

By: Joey Raymond

Headline Photo Credit: Virginia Tech Athletics

Round 2 begins…

BLACKSBURG, VA-There are so many ways and adjectives I could use to describe the intensity of these two teams. Both the Hokies and the Jack Rabbits played tough games to get here. Despite that, the two games had very drastic outcomes. We’ll start with the Hokies who played a very physical and vigorous Chattanooga Mocs team. The stat sheet may not show it, but the Mocs fought hard. Kenny Brooks (head coach of the Hokies) said the Hokies kept it “vanilla” as far as offense goes, which is impressive considering they won by more than 20. The Jack Rabbits come into this game after playing a late-night matchup versus Southern California. The game was ugly. It was a hard-nosed, hard-fought matchup that drove even further into the night after a 45-45 tie at the end of regulation brought us into overtime. The overtime period continued to showcase what was a defensive masterpiece from both sides. However, one team had to come out on top and the Jack Rabbits eventually pulled out a win. This was in large part due to the play of Myah Selland who ended the night with 29 points.

Battle in the paint…

Photo Credit: Joey Raymond-LMS Network

​This is truly going to start and end with the ladies in the paint. The key players for this game are going to be Myah Selland from South Dakota and Elizabeth Kitley from Virginia Tech. It’s going to be who can control the basket from that 5 spots. Selland is a dominant force who can score quickly once she receives the ball. South Dakota is going to need to get other players like Paige Meyer, who will probably match up against the slick-shooting, Georgia Amoore, to get open to relieve the pressure from the Hokies’ defense. I think whoever ends up winning this game, will need to outscore the other in the paint and then hit some clutch threes to overcome the defense from either side.

The Cassell Guard…

Cassell Coliseum, believe it or not, is even louder than it was on Friday. Georgia Amoore said that she could “feel the ground shake” because of the noise. The fans are losing their minds as players are introduced. South Dakota looks rattled. I asked the Head coach of the Jack Rabbits, Aaron Johnston, last night how he felt about playing in this environment. He said “It’s where his team wants to be” and that “too often we’ve played in empty gyms” and that he appreciates an environment that appreciates women’s basketball.” We’ll soon see how his team responds to the adversity placed in front of them.

First Half Recap…

Photo Credit: Joey Raymond-LMS Network

The let’s go Hokies chants rain down on the court once again as tip-off begins and the Hokies begin possession, Georgia Amoore hits a massive three-pointer. The student section almost blows the roof off of Cassell when Traylor hits the second three to pull the Hokies up 6-2 early. The Hokies continue the early onslaught with another three from King. Jack Rabbits wouldn’t take long to respond, however, as Selland hits a three to make it 11-7. This game already is proving to be offense heavy. The energy in Cassell is electric, the noise is ear-piercing. Georgia Amoore scores another three to bring the Hokies to 17. The defense looks to take over for a couple of minutes as the two teams go back and forth a couple of times without a basket. Liz Kitley then finally breaks through with a step-back jumper before the first quarter ends. The quarter ends with a score of 19-7.

​The second quarter begins with the Jackrabbits having possession, and scoring a quick two points thanks to Myah Selland. Liz Kitley and the Hokies respond quickly, however, and score two of their own. Back and forth they go for a while as the Hokies are flexing some muscle, pulling out to a 20-point lead, before the Jackrabbits start to find a groove. Myah Selland and company score some shots to bring the score to 31-14 as the five-minute mark hits. Hokies and Jackrabbits trade the next couple of possessions, and as the three-minute mark hits, the Jackrabbits have crawled back to be a bit closer, but the Hokies’ offense is still on fire. As the one-minute mark hits, Taylor Geiman hits a three, followed by another three by Kayla King, who hurts her wrist on the play but stays in the game. The clock hits zero, and halftime begins as the Hokies led by 23 at the half. The score is 46-23 Virginia Tech is in the lead.

Second Half Recap…

Photo Credit: Joey Raymond-LMS Network

​The Jackrabbits start the second half with the ball as Liz Kitley gets a double-double on the first play grabbing a missed shot from Myah Selland. The two teams trade a couple of baskets shortly thereafter and the momentum starts to lean toward South Dakota State. The Jackrabbits grab a couple of shots before fouling Taylor Soule. The score at the eight-minute mark of the third quarter is 48-27. Don’t count the Jackrabbits out because they were down so much at the half. They come storming out and score a couple more baskets and grab some important fouls to keep chipping away at the Hokies’ massive lead. As the five-minute mark hits the Hokies lead 50-33. Let’s go Hokies chants rain down after the five-minute timeout. Back and forth the teams go as the clock continues down toward the three-minute mark. Not much has changed in terms of scoring as the Hokies lead 53-35. As the third quarter comes closer to a close, the Jackrabbits manage to pick up a couple of fouls and clutch free throws. The clock hits the one-minute mark and South Dakota has fought hard to bring it within 13 points. Georgia Amoore hits a three which is answered by tough play and foul shots from the Jackrabbits. The quarter ends with a score of 59-43.

We enter the fourth quarter with Tori Nelson scoring a much-needed layup for the Jackrabbits. Taylor Soule and the Hokies respond quickly, however, scoring a basket of their own. This back-and-forth shooting wouldn’t go for long though as the Jackrabbits’ relentless attack provides them with a couple more shots. Georgia Amoore wouldn’t let that go though as she hits a three to pull momentum back the Hokies’ way. Both teams came out of the third with a focus on offense. Back and forth the teams go as we pull up to the five-minute mark in the quarter. The Jackrabbits are gradually pulling closer as the Hokies miss several shots on their end. The score at the five-minute mark is 64-53. Myah Selland gets a clutch layup and foul shot to gather three points for South Dakota after the Hokies grab a quick two. Georgia Amoore hits a back-breaking three, and Cassell Coliseum nearly loses its roof because of the noise. The clock hits 1:50 and the intensity of the crowd is volatile. South Dakota tries to respond and they do as Myah Selland gets fouled and makes both her free throws. Georgia Amoore calls the game though as she hits a three with the one-minute mark hitting the clock. The score is 72-60 as the one-minute media timeout hits. The Hokies fans start to feel it now as they ratchet up the noise level to a point you can’t even hear yourself think. The game clock hits all zeros and the Cassell loses its roof. The final score is 72-60 with Virginia Tech on top and heading to the sweet sixteen in Seattle.

Photo Credit: Virginia Tech athletics

What’s Next…

​As for the Jackrabbits, even though they are heading home, they have no reason to be disappointed in the amazing year they just completed. At one point this year they rattled off 22 straight wins. It’s a great year that they should all remember. The Hokies will move on to the sweet sixteen in Seattle and will play the winner of Toledo and Tennesee. Both teams have had a very successful year and could prove to be a handful for the Hokies. Only time will tell how successful the Hokies will be in the tournament but if they play as they did during these first two rounds, we could be talking about a deep run.