March Madness: No. 1 Virginia Tech holds on to beat No. 4 Tennessee, reach first-ever Elite Eight
They nearly let it slip away, but the Hokies are headed to the Elite Eight for the first time in program history.
No. 1 seed Virginia Tech stifled No. 4 Tennessee’s dominant run in the NCAA tournament on Saturday afternoon in Seattle. The Hokies, behind another career outing from guard Georgia Amoore, led the entire way and held on late to take a 73-64 win at Climate Pledge Arena to punch their ticket to the Elite Eight and officially mark the program’s deepest postseason run to date.
With UConn’s loss earlier in the day, this season will mark just the third time in the tournament’s history that neither Tennessee nor UConn will be in the Final Four. The last time neither team reached that round was in 1992.
FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME IN PROGRAM HISTORY, VIRGINIA TECH IS HEADED TO THE ELITE EIGHT#MarchMadness x @HokiesWBB pic.twitter.com/qBMkBODFjv
— NCAA March Madness (@MarchMadnessWBB) March 26, 2023
The Hokies took the advantage right from the start. They opened the game on a 9-0 run, and took a 5-point lead into the second quarter.
That’s when Amoore took off. Amoore dropped 12 of her career-high 29 points in the second quarter, which helped push Virginia Tech to a 13-point lead at the break. They held Tennessee to just one field goal in the final 6:30 of the period, and ended the half on a dominant 8-0 run.
Tennessee cut the deficit slightly in the third, and used a 7-0 run to end the period and cut the game back to single digits. A 9-2 run to open the fourth, capped by a pair of Jordan Walker layups, then suddenly had the Lady Vols back within just 2 points. The Hokies had shot just 2-of-10 from the field at that point, too, while Tennessee seemingly couldn’t miss.
But a Jasmine Powell 3-pointer at the 6:15 mark of the period, which cut the game to just 1, was the last field goal they scored over the next five minutes. Virginia Tech responded with a huge 10-2 run to jump back in control, and then held on to take the 9-point win.
Jordan Horston led Tennessee with 17 points in the loss, and Rickea Jackson added 15 points and 8 rebounds. The Lady Vols shot just 3-of-17 from behind the arc as a team. Tennessee had no issue getting to the Sweet 16 after an up-and-down regular season in the SEC. The Lady Vols nearly beat No. 13 Saint Louis by 50 in their opening-round game, and then beat No. 12 Toledo by 47 in the second round.
Amoore added 6 rebounds and 5 assists with her career-high 29 points, and shot 9-of-21 from the field. Kayana Traylor added 14 points, and Elizabeth Kitley finished with 12 points and 8 rebounds.
Virginia Tech, after dominant wins over both Chattanooga and South Dakota State in the opening rounds, will take on No. 3 Ohio State in the Elite Eight on Monday. The Buckeyes beat UConn on Saturday to reach the Elite Eight for the first time since 1993.
"I think everybody watches and knows how good they are offensively because they have such a balanced attack," Tennessee coach Kellie Harper said. "They really can score from five positions in their own right. But I think today defensively they showed some physicality and, really, game plan defense. They controlled the pace a lot of times, which allows them to play with six, maybe seven players. So they're a No. 1 seed. They should have been a No. 1 seed. They won their tournament. They're playing great right now."