Women's basketball: Virginia Tech center Elizabeth Kitley to miss NCAA tournament

Virginia Tech center Elizabeth Kitley (R) sustained a torn ACL in her left knee earlier this month. Photo by Sullivan Madden/Virginia Tech Athletics

March 21 (UPI) -- Virginia Tech All-American center Elizabeth Kitley, who was diagnosed with a torn ACL in her left knee, will miss the 2023 NCAA Division I women's basketball tournament, coach Kenny Brooks announced Thursday.

The three-time ACC Player of the Year sustained the injury in the Hokies' March 3 regular-season-ending loss to Virginia.

"We are just praying for her and her mental health right now," Brooks told reporters at a news conference in Blacksburg, Va. "She is still a part of what we do. She is big in what we've done.

"My heart goes out to her because of everything she has done for this program and everything she will continue to do through her legacy."

Kitley averaged a team-high 22.8 points, the sixth-most in the country, this season for the 24-7 Hokies. She also logged 11.4 assists per game, the sixth-most in the nation. She averaged 17.9 points and 10 rebounds per game over 151 career appearances during her five-year run with the team.

She is the school's all-time leading scorer in women's or men's basketball. She also totaled the most rebounds and blocks in Hokies women's basketball history.

"This is not at all how I anticipated ending this year with my team, but I'm so proud of all of our accomplishments, and I'm excited to see my girls continue to compete," Kitley wrote on Instagram.

"Thank you to all of Hokie Nation for being so supportive during this tough time. I'm looking forward to making a strong comeback."

The Hokies played without Kitley and beat Miami 55-47 in the quarterfinals of the ACC tournament March 8 in Greensboro, N.C. They then lost 82-53 to No. 14 Notre Dame in the semifinals March 9.

The fourth-seeded Hokies will face No. 13 Marshall (26-6) in the first round of the NCAA tournament at 3:30 p.m. EDT Friday at Cassell Coliseum in Blacksburg. The game will air on ESPN2.

The winner will meet No. 5 Baylor (24-7) or No. 12 Vanderbilt (23-9) in the second round.