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Kitley breaks Virginia Tech record in win over Wake Forest

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BLACKSBURG — There have been a lot of great players in the history of Virginia Tech women's basketball.

But no one has made more baskets as a Hokie than Elizabeth Kitley.

The senior center broke the program record for career baskets in the 12th-ranked Hokies' 74-57 win over Wake Forest on Sunday at Cassell Coliseum.

Kitley scored 28 points and was 12 of 15 from the field, giving her 704 buckets for her career. She eclipsed the old mark of 694, set by Tere Williams from 1997-2001.

"It's really cool," Kitley said. "I had, honestly, no idea until I saw it flashing in Cassell [on the video board] last game that I needed however-many baskets.

"It doesn't really sink in, … but I think once I finish playing and I leave here it's going to be really nice to look back and know that I left my mark."

The reigning ACC player of the year entered Sunday knowing she needed just three baskets to break the record. She broke the record in the first quarter.

"Mentally, I couldn't not keep track," she said.

Virginia Tech waited until a timeout after the first quarter to announce on the public address system that Kitley had broken the record. Kitley beamed during the announcement and got a hug from Cayla King, who has been her teammate in both high school and college.

"We as Hokie Nation, we can't take her greatness for granted," Tech coach Kenny Brooks said. "I enjoy watching her grow as a player, but I also enjoy watching her represent Virginia Tech — not only our basketball program but the university."

Kitley never expected to be a record-breaker when she joined the Hokies (16-3, 6-3) four years ago. But she worked with Brooks to add layers to her game.

"I just have my teammates and Coach Brooks to thank for that because they've just made me so much better," Kitley said. "I'm not nearly the same player I was when I got here and I'm really grateful for that. … I'm glad that I went here. Very glad.

"The time that I've had invested in me that I've also been able to invest in this program has just paid off so much."

Kitley also snared 12 rebounds Sunday. Kitley, who ranks second on Tech's all-time rebounding list, needs one more rebound to reach 1,000 for her career.

The 6-foot-6 Kitley ranks fourth on the Tech career scoring list with 1,747 points. She needs only 137 more points to break her former teammate Aisha Sheppard's record of 1,883 points.

"I might text Shep tonight, see how she feels," point guard Georgia Amoore said. "Just kidding."

Wake's zone defense couldn't contain Kitley, whose 28 points was a season high.

"I loved her demeanor. She was more aggressive, and that's something that we talked about," Brooks said. "We've seen zone the last six games for the majority of the time. I think it's people's purpose to crowd her.

"I told her she needs to be more like Kobe [Bryant] and less like LeBron [James] because she's always trying to make the right play. She got double-teamed, she's trying to kick it out. And today I told her, 'Sometimes you've got to shoot it when two people are on you. You're that good.’"

Amoore had 17 points, five 3-pointers and six assists. Taylor Soule had 16 points and eight rebounds.

Tech led 35-20 at halftime, but Wake (11-9, 2-7) cut the lead to 53-50 entering the fourth. Wake shot 75% from the field (9 of 12) in the third quarter.

Wake guard Jewel Spear scored 18 of her 27 points in the third.

"They were going to that high ball screen quite a bit and Jewel got going," said Brooks, who was whistled for a technical foul in the third. "[The Tech players] made a couple [defensive] suggestions of what they would like to do. We did it in the fourth and we were able to pull away."

The Demon Deacons were just 2 of 12 from the field in the fourth.

"We started hedging high ball screens and pushing [Spear] out even more," Brooks said. "It took them out of rhythm."

Leading 55-52 with 8:52 to go, Tech went on a 13-2 run to build a 68-54 cushion with 3:14 left.

The Hokies shot 63.6% from the field in the third and 50% in the fourth.

Tech guard Ashley Owusu had four points in 15 minutes. It was the Maryland transfer's second game back after missing 10 games with a broken pinkie.

"I feel for her because … you're out the main portion of when your team's gaining their identity," Brooks said. "And now we're trying to re-insert her into certain areas — all the while she's trying to get her conditioning [back].

"She's just really trying to get comfortable. And it's really hard when you're right in the thick of an ACC run. … I've got to do a better job with the rotations."

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Mark Berman covers Virginia Tech men’s basketball and many other teams at the university. He also helps cover other colleges, including Radford, VMI, Roanoke, Washington and Lee and Ferrum.

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