SEATTLE — At 8:21 p.m., Georgia Amoore dribbled out the clock. At 8:35, she climbed a ladder and cut her piece of the net. And at 8:37 — that’s 2:37 p.m. in Victoria, Australia — Amoore stole a moment to grab her phone and FaceTime her parents.
From anywhere in the arena, Amoore’s joy was visible. Her eyes creased as her smile grew wider. On the other end of the call, Phil and Kelly told her they were on their way. Tomorrow, they’d be on a plane to Dallas to watch their daughter play in the Final Four. Her coach, Kenny Brooks, joined in on the call, and then he and Amoore shared a hug.
In his arms, on this court, so far away from the place she grew up, Amoore was at home.
Before the ACC tournament, Georgia Amoore was a name not everyone knew. In the postseason, that quickly changed. Amoore has been the engine making No. 1 seed Virginia Tech’s offense go in the NCAA Tournament, including Monday night with a 24-point performance in the Hokies’ 84-74 Elite Eight win over Ohio State. As the point guard dismantled defenses and led her program to its first-ever Final Four, Georgia Amoore became a name that casual fans and basketball greats committed to memory.
“I saw that Sue Bird shared her on her Instagram story,” said Amoore’s cousin, Keeley Frawey. “She’s getting noticed and it’s such a tribute to her. And that’s not her main focus. She just really wants to win.”
No one in Climate Pledge Arena knows Amoore better than Frawley, not even her teammates or coach. The two grew up together, playing basketball in Australia at Frawley’s family beach house in Portarlington.
Now, they both play college basketball in the United States. Frawley’s Portland Pilots also earned an NCAA Tournament bid, falling to Oklahoma in the first round. Amoore was almost a Pilot, too. Portland was the only other school to give her a scholarship offer, and at the time, Frawley hoped they would play their college basketball together.
Now, watching Amoore pose next to her trophy in a pile of confetti, with an Australian flag draped over her shoulders, Frawley knows that she is exactly where she’s meant to be.
“She’s absolutely thriving,” Frawley said with a smile.
View this post on Instagram A post shared by Georgia Amoore (@georgiaamoore)
A post shared by Georgia Amoore (@georgiaamoore)
Amoore had a standout regular season, averaging 16.1 points and 5.1 assists per game while leading her team to the ACC championship. But as the competition gets more intense and the stakes get higher, Amoore gets better. She had 24 points against Duke in the ACC semifinal, then 25 to top Lousiville and hoist the conference trophy. The junior guard opened NCAA Tournament play with 22 points, then 21, then 29 against a talented Tennessee team, and finally 24 against Ohio State to help Virginia Tech make history.
And Amoore did something no other team has been able to do in this tournament: She dismantled Ohio State’s signature defensive press, the same one that forced UConn into 25 turnovers in the Sweet 16. The Hokies had heard about the press. It was the main line of questioning leading up to the game: “How will you handle the pressure?”
The answer? With Georgia Amoore.
A couple of early turnovers caused Brooks to call a timeout. He and Amoore stood side by side, and he pointed to various spots on the floor. Amoore says she’s a visual learner. Often in practice, Brooks will demonstrate a move for her, and his point guard will mimic it. There was no time for that on Monday in Climate Pledge Arena, so they made due with words and gestures.
“I think for the press, it got a bit choppy when we started passing it too much,” Amoore said. ”I really just needed to break it by dribbling through it.”
After that, Amoore started to dissect the Ohio State defense off the bounce. She skillfully crossed halfcourt, dribbling around multiple defenders, head up, one eye on the clock, the other surveying the offensive possibilities.
Her technique was so clinical that, after the game, Amoore’s teammates marveled at her skills.
“Georgia, I don’t know how you do it, man,” Taylor Soule said with a piece of the net tucked under her Final Four hat. “I honestly sit back in the backcourt and just watch what you do in awe.”
She’s not the only one.
Frawley saw many moments throughout the win that were quintessential Georgia.
Like when Ohio State cut the lead down to two points with 3:16 left in the third quarter. A sloppy Virginia Tech possession had broken down, and after the ball bounced off both Buckeyes and Hokies players, it found its way into Amoore’s hands. She glanced up as the shot clock ticked down. Then, with one quick dribble, she blew by her defender for a layup.
Or when she made a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to end the third quarter, creating space from her defender with a dribble and a dramatic fade to the left.
Our PG 👌🤩 pic.twitter.com/LaUEkmDNSl— Virginia Tech Women's Basketball (@HokiesWBB) March 28, 2023
Our PG 👌🤩 pic.twitter.com/LaUEkmDNSl
Or when yet another shot clock neared expiration, with 6:57 left in the fourth quarter, and Amoore put her head down. She worked her way to the basket to find Elizabeth Kitley for a dump pass that turned into an and-1, giving Virginia Tech a 10-point lead and an extra dose of momentum.
All those moments were Georgia being Georgia, but one stood out to Frawley more than the rest.
The Virginia Tech guard took a hit to the face with 8:31 left in the second quarter. A wayward limb caught Amoore in the jaw and she flew backwards, her curly, brown ponytail cushioning a fall to the court.
Frawley didn’t see the play happen, but her mom did. Frawley received a concerned text from her, wondering if Amoore was going to be OK.
Moments later they had their answer.
Amoore left the court with assistance from trainers, appearing to head toward the locker room. But 44 seconds later — the only 44 seconds in the game when she wasn’t on the court — Amoore was back. The hit, she said, motivated her. And once she caught her breath, and shook off the initial shock of the blow, Amoore was ready to attack the game with new ferocity.
“I just had a little bit of rage and some catching up to do,” Amoore said. “They’re a strong team, and I think they were playing physical. I don’t like when people beat down on my teammates, so as soon as I copped the beating, I went back and refreshed and I came out with a different mindset.”
Two minutes later, Amoore hit a pull up 3-pointer in transition. Before getting hit, Amoore had two points. Afterward, she went on to score 22 more, including going a perfect 6-for-6 from the free-throw line and connecting on four 3-pointers. Hitting from long range, she says, is her favorite way to score.
She made a record 20 3-pointers over the first four rounds of the tournament.
“I just like to shoot the 3-ball,” she said with a laugh and childlike grin. “And I don’t know what else to say about that.”
G's good 😏👌 » https://t.co/GlM7J1XBOz pic.twitter.com/iiMRdqV2mu— Virginia Tech Women's Basketball (@HokiesWBB) March 28, 2023
G's good 😏👌 » https://t.co/GlM7J1XBOz pic.twitter.com/iiMRdqV2mu
But before she could set any records, Amoore needed to get back in the game.
“I knew that in every ounce of her bones and body, she was wanting to get back on that court,” Frawley said. “She’s so tough.”
And sure enough, before the crowd had any real time to worry, Amoore was back on the bench. Frawley watched as she approached Brooks, reading her lips as she told him, “I’m ready.”
And she was. Ready to take her team all the way to the Final Four.
“That’s just Georgia,” Frawley said.
Eden Laase is a Staff Writer at Just Women’s Sports. Follow her on Twitter @eden_laase.