Virginia Tech coach Kenny Brooks fights back tears talking injury to 2-time ACC POY Elizabeth Kitley: 'We're praying for her'

Elizabeth Kitley, seen here on Sunday against Virginia before leaving with an apparent leg injury. (Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images)
Elizabeth Kitley, seen here on Sunday against Virginia before leaving with an apparent leg injury. (Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images)

Virginia Tech's All-America center Elizabeth Kitley left Sunday's season finale against Virginia with an apparent knee injury and did not return in a potentially devastating blow to the nation's No. 5 team ahead of the NCAA tournament.

Kitley fell to the floor after making a fast-break layup and clutched her left knee in pain with 6:05 remaining in the third quarter. She appeared to sustain the injury without contact while landing after the shot. She was able to walk off the floor with the help of trainers, but did not return to the game.

She did return to the sideline with a dark bruise visible on her left knee.

After the 80-75 Virginia win, Virginia Tech head coach Kenny Brooks fought back tears while discussing the injury. He didn't offer details regarding the nature and severity the injury.

"I'll be very honest with you," Brooks said. "I don't know Kitley's status. And to be honest with you, that's where my mind is. What I can tell you is hard-fought game, tremendous atmosphere for women's basketball, so I'm proud of that.

"But beyond that, I'll be very honest, my mind is somewhere else."

Other than confirming that it was a lower-body injury, Brooks then declined again to expound on her status when pressed for details.

"I'm not gonna be able to give you guys anything out of respect for her. But it's not a concussion. It's lower extremities. ...

"We're praying for her. My mind is there. To try to give you guys some insight on where she is, what's going on — I know you guys have got papers to write. I respect the hell out of that. But I respect her more. I just don't know yet."

Kitley is a two-time Associated Press All-American and the reigning two-time ACC Player of the Year. A fifth-year center, she's averaged 22.9 points, 11.5 rebounds and two blocks this season while shooting 55% from the floor. She's a potential first-round pick in the upcoming WNBA draft.

The Hokies secured the ACC regular-season title despite Sunday's loss with a 14-4 conference record. They'll be the No. 1 seed at the ACC tournament and were in contention for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament prior to Kitley's injury. Her status moving forward will determine Virginia Tech's viability as a national title contender.