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Hurricanes Fall to Virginia Tech in ACC Tournament

Hurricanes Fall to Virginia Tech in ACC Tournament

by Christy Cabrera Chirinos

GREENSBORO, N.C. – The Hurricanes knew coming in they faced a challenge.

Virginia Tech, the nation’s eighth-ranked team, had a double bye to start the 2023 Ally ACC Women’s Basketball Tournament. The Hokies entered the tournament on an eight-game win streak and have the reigning two-time ACC Player of the Year – Elizabeth Kitley – on the roster.

And the Hokies proved to be every bit the powerhouse Miami expected them to be.

Kitley scored a game-high 22 points to lead three Hokies in double figures and help give Virginia Tech a 68-42 win over the Hurricanes in an ACC Tournament quarterfinal game Friday night at the Greensboro Coliseum.

The loss ends Miami’s run in Greensboro and sends the Hurricanes back to Coral Gables where they will now wait to learn their NCAA Tournament fate on Selection Sunday.

After the loss, Hurricanes head coach Katie Meier did not mince words when asked why she believes Miami belongs in the tournament.

“Body of work, there’s no question. Virginia Tech – they’re a very, very high-level team, and one poor game against a great team like that that had revenge in their hearts…We beat them at home. We beat them in a week where we beat them and North Carolina, both teams are high level and Miami is very good.

“We’ve had some adversity and some injuries, but we’ll be fully healthy. Lazaria Spearman is going to come back. She’s walking around and shooting around a little bit today. So that’ll help us, help our depth.”

From the start, though, the Hurricanes (19-12, 11-7) found themselves having to fight out of a hole.

Virginia Tech opened the game on a 10-2 run and capitalized on Miami’s shooting woes to build what was ultimately a 20-5 first-quarter lead.

In the game’s first 10 minutes, the Hurricanes endured multiple scoring droughts and didn’t get on the board until Lola Pendande hit a lay-up after nearly three scoreless minutes.

The Hurricanes ultimately finished the quarter shooting just 2 of 17 from the field, while Virginia Tech was 8 of 19.

And while Miami held Virginia Tech (25-4, 14-4) to single digits in the second quarter, the Hokies opened the third quarter with a 10-0 run that pushed their lead to 39-15 with a little more than five minutes left in the frame.

A pair of free throws from Kyla Oldacre with 4:58 left ended that stretch and gave Miami its first points of the second half, but the deficit proved too much for the Hurricanes to overcome.

Making things more difficult for Miami was the fact that second-team All-ACC selection and team leader Destiny Harden wasn’t at her best.

The graduate student – whose 12.0 points per game scoring average is second on the team – spent part of the day receiving medical care, per Meier.

She finished the game with just two points and one rebound.

“Destiny Harden actually spent most of the morning getting medical care, so she was really not herself. I don’t usually say that, but you want to know what kind of happened to Miami. Des was not with us and we weren’t sure if she was going to play. I thought that was reflected in her performance, as well…

“She gave us what she could, but she wasn’t herself. That was a big matchup for us and something we weren’t really planning on and something we weren’t expecting. So to not get that performance from Des, there’s a reason.”

Hanna Cavinder had seven points to lead the Hurricanes, while Oldacre, Lashae Dwyer, and Haley Cavinder had six points each.

“I do not want to take anything from that performance by Virginia Tech,” Meier said. “ I can’t believe they only scored 68. They were making such tough shots. They’re incredibly talented…Every time I thought we just needed a top or two stops in a row, they would hit a really difficult, a very high-level difficult shot. It wasn’t like they were getting steals and lay-ups. They were executing their stuff and then they were hitting turnaround jumpers and step-back threes. Just really sophisticated stuff offensively.”