BLACKSBURG, Va. — Elizabeth Kitley had 27 points and 11 rebounds to lead No. 8 Virginia Tech to a 94-55 season-opening victory over High Point on Monday.
Kitley connected on 12 of 17 from the floor for the Hokies, who made 14 of their first 16 shots and never trailed. Picked to win the Atlantic Coast Conference in the league’s preseason poll, the defending league champion used a 15-2 first-quarter run in which four players scored to pull away.
“I didn’t know what to expect, honestly,” Virginia Tech coach Kenny Brooks said. “I liked what I saw. It was a really good start for us.
“Our motto this year is to be like lions. We might not be the biggest, fastest, or strongest, but our mentality is going to make us the queens, if you will, of the jungle. So, I was really pleased with that first quarter.”
Georgia Amoore added 14 points and nine assists for Virginia Tech, which unveiled its Final Four banner in the rafters of Cassell Coliseum before the game in commemoration of the program’s first Final Four appearance last March. Players from last year’s squad also were presented with Final Four rings.
“I think the way that people filled Cassell made it really, really fun and really exciting for us,” Kitley said. “Then playing with all these new players for the first time against somebody else was really fun. We’ve been looking forward to this for a long time, and it’s exciting to pick up where we left off.”
Matilda Ekh had 15 points for the Hokies, who shot 57.4% (35 of 61) from the floor and hit 11 3-pointers.
Lauren Bevis, the preseason Big South Player of the Year, and Nakyah Terrell led the Panthers with 15 points each. High Point shot just 31% (18 of 58).
“I’ve been barking about it every day,” Brooks said of his team’s defense. “Last year, the chemistry was so good that they didn’t really have to say much. But this group, we have to say a lot … There (also) has to be some listening. We’ve done a lot to work on our communication skills and it’s not just talking. Somebody needs to listen and I think they’re getting that.”
High Point: The Panthers were picked to win the Big South in the league’s preseason poll, and should be contenders with all-league talents in Bevis and Nakyah Terrell, both of whom were preseason All-Big South selections.
Virginia Tech: Despite losing four key pieces off last year’s team and adding nine new faces, the Hokies looked impressive in their season debut. Kitley and Amoore are stars, and the team is much deeper than a season ago. Coach Kenny Brooks used 10 players in the first half alone, with seven of them playing at least eight minutes.
ADDING TO HER HAUL
Kitley, a two-time All-American and two-time ACC player of the year, already holds the school record for points, field goals, blocked shots, and double-doubles. Her 27-point outburst against High Point marked the 98th game in which she has scored in double figures, tying the school record held by Tere Williams (1997-2001).
High Point: The Panthers host Lees-McRae College on Saturday.
Virginia Tech: The Hokies play No. 3 Iowa on Thursday in Charlotte, North Carolina.