Elizabeth Kitley delivered big on Sunday, helping No. 13 Virginia Tech upset previously undefeated No. 3 NC State with a last-second layup.

The layup came off of a cross-court inbound pass from Cayla King, leaving less than a second left for NC State to respond and avoid the upset. But the Wolfpack were unable to deny the Hokies of their victory.

Kitley finished with 27 points for Virginia Tech, who rallied from a 13-point deficit in the second half for their seventh-straight win. It was also their 19th straight win at home.

“I think we’ve gone over that play multiple times in practice,” Georgia Amoore said, calling the play “Old Faithful.” “And you know, Cayla has great vision and great accuracy with that pass, and I knew that it’s worked before. So, I was very, very confident.”

“Coach [Kenny] Brooks is really good in those situations, and he had something in his back pocket,” Kitley said. “Cayla had an absolute dime of a pass and it ended up working out for us.”

The Hokies’ coach said the team “needed” the win after two early season losses to ranked opponents.

“We just kind of like dug in and said, ‘Hey, we’re not trying to prove anybody wrong,” Brooks said. “We’re just going to continue to prove ourselves right,’ and that worked for us last year, and it continues to work for us.”

“It came down to just willing yourself to win,” he added. “A game like that, a win like that, is like feeding a monster because I think people are going to continue to come back.”

For the Wolfpack, it was their first loss this season. It also leaves just three undefeated teams left in women’s college basketball: No. 1 South Carolina, No. 2 UCLA and No. 6 Baylor.

“I think the heartbreaking thing is we have a lot of respect for their program, and you’re two seconds away from beating them on the road,” NC State coach Wes Moore said. “That’s heartbreaking. As a coach, you think I could have done something different, and we’d have won that game.”

Angel Reese will return to the lineup for LSU basketball after a four-game absence, head coach Kim Mulkey announced Wednesday.

The star senior last appeared on the court on Nov. 14. She played 14 minutes in the first half of the Tigers’ 109-79 win over Kent State, but she did not play at all in the second half due to what Mulkey called a “coach’s decision.”

She missed LSU’s next four games. Mulkey provided few details on Reese’s absence, though she did allude to “locker room issues” on Nov. 20.

“You always have to deal with locker room issues,” Mulkey said. “That’s just part of coaching. In 40 years, I can never think of a time where I didn’t have to deal with issues. That’s what coaches do. Sometimes y’all know about it and sometimes you don’t. Sometimes you want to know more than you’re entitled to know.

“I’m going to protect my players, always. They are more important. It’s like a family. If you do some disciplining of your own children, do you think we’re entitled to know that? That’s a family in that locker room.”

Mulkey remained similarly tight-lipped even as she revealed Reese’s return. She declined to disclose how long she has been practicing with the team, only saying: “It doesn’t matter. Angel is back, and we are happy, happy, happy.”

Reese returns just in time for No. 7 LSU’s game against No. 9 Virginia Tech, which is set to tip off at 9 p.m. ET Thursday on ESPN. The Tigers beat the Hokies, 79-72, in the 2023 Final Four en route to their first title in program history.

Yet while LSU will have Reese, they will be without sophomore forward Sa’Myah Smith, who will miss the rest of the season with tears to the ACL, MCL and meniscus in her right knee. Junior guard Kateri Poole also remains out for the Tigers. Poole has missed three games in a row, though the reason for her absence has not been disclosed.

Senior guard Hailey Van Lith is available for the game, but she is dealing with a foot injury, Mulkey said. The injury is one Van Lith has had for several years, but she aggravated it in LSU’s win over Virginia on Nov. 25.

No. 3 Iowa’s basketball phenom Caitlin Clark stunned No. 8 Virginia Tech, dropping 44 points en route to a 80-76 win Thursday night for the Hawkeyes. 

Clark clocked her ninth career 40-point game, which moved her into a tie with former Missouri State star Jackie Stiles for the most in Division I basketball, women’s and men’s, over the last 25 seasons. 

Clark was borderline unguardable for the Hokies, sinking 3-pointers, hooking layups and drawing fouls to collect her 44 points.

“Sometimes you’re playing checkers and she’s playing chess,” Virginia Tech coach Kenny Brooks said. “She’s that good.”

Clark shot 13-31 from the field and 13-17 from the free-throw line. Clark also pulled down eight rebounds and assisted on six buckets.

Her play even garnered praise from a fellow guard, Virginia Tech’s Georgia Amoore. Clark and Amoore traded 3-pointers back and forth during the fourth quarter of the close game.

“She’s literally been gifted by every God you can imagine. She’s insane… She’s a generational talent,” Amoore told WUNC’s Mitchell Northam

Even at away games, Clark draws an unprecedented audience. According to the Associated Press, more than 15,000 people attended the matchup between the Hawkeyes and the Hokies, and other away teams have seen their attendance spike when Clark is in town. She’s already driving up ticket sales for Iowa games this season.

And on Thursday, the audience drawn in by Clark got the show they wanted to see.

“It seems like there are a lot of people that are just fans of our game, whether it is Iowa fans or Virginia Tech fans or just people that are here to support women’s basketball,” Clark told AP. “And that is why this game was put on is because they understand how great women’s basketball is and how much it is growing.”

Ashley Owusu is ready to play basketball again.

After starting her college career at Maryland, where she became one of the best guards in the country, she transferred to Virginia Tech ahead of the 2022-23 season. While her tenure with the Hokies started strong, a broken pinkie derailed it. After the injury, her minutes decreased, and she did not play at all in the postseason.

The tension came to a head during the Hokies’ Final Four run. During the national semifinal, Owusu left the bench, which resulted in infighting with her teammates. Following the season, she entered the transfer portal once again, and now she finds herself starting again at Penn State.

“Obviously getting hurt was unfortunate,” Owusu told The Daily Collegian, “but kind of looking forward to playing here, being able to be around new people.”

While Owusu was recruited by the Nittany Lions her first time in the portal, it didn’t work out. This time, assistant coach Terri Williams – whose brother Boo Williams coached Owusu in her youth career – managed to secure the commitment. Owusu credited the familiar face as a “very important” factor in her decision.

And Owusu’s Penn State teammates already are excited about what the three-time All-Big Ten selection brings to the squad. Makenna Marisa, who has “always been a fan of her game” and wanted to play with Owusu, said as much.

“She makes her teammates around her better, and she’s an unselfish player,” Marisa said. “She’s a hooper.”

And while Owusu is ready to fit into whatever role is needed, Penn State is ready to help her thrive.

“Ashley’s going to have freedom to play, and she didn’t get that at Virginia Tech,” Williams said. “She’s going to have freedom to flourish and be the player and the playmaker that she is, here, at Penn State.”

Ashley Owusu has found a new home with Penn State women’s basketball, the Nittany Lions announced Thursday night.

This marks Owusu’s second transfer in two seasons. The 6-0 guard transferred to Virginia Tech from Maryland last offseason, but her season with the Hokies soured after she injured her pinkie finger in December. While she started the first seven games of the season, she played sparingly after she made her return from injury in January, and she did not play at all in the postseason.

After a social media spat with her Virginia Tech teammates during the Hokies’ Final Four loss, Owusu re-entered the transfer portal. She has one year of COVID-19 eligibility remaining.

Despite her winding road to Virginia Tech, she brings top-tier skills with her to Penn State. In three seasons at Maryland, Owusu was named All-Big Ten three times and was the recipient of the 2021 Ann Meyers Drysdale Award, recognizing the best shooting guard in women’s college basketball.

Across all four seasons of her career, she has averaged 13.1 points, 4.4 assists and 3.8 rebounds per game.

“We are thrilled to add Ashley to our Penn State family,” Penn State head coach Carolyn Kieger said in a statement. “She is a game-changing player who has excelled at the highest level, especially in the Big Ten Conference.”

When choosing her transfer destination, Owusu found herself impressed by the Nittany Lions’ team atmosphere.

“I chose Penn State because of how welcoming and genuine the coaches and girls were,” she said in a statement. “I wanted to be around people that have the same goals as me, and I know that my teammates and I are going to accomplish big things this season.”

Ashley Owusu is keeping her skills sharp, as she showed off in a social media video posted Saturday.

The highlight reel shows the high-profile transfer in a gym practicing her dribbling and shooting. Her slick ball-handling is grabbing attention — and fueling speculation about her next destination.

Owusu transferred to Virginia Tech from Maryland last offseason, but her season with the Hokies soured after she injured her pinkie finger in December. While she started the first seven games of the season before the injury, she played sparingly after she made her return in January, and she did not play at all in the postseason.

After a social media spat with her Virginia Tech teammates during the Hokies’ Final Four loss, Owusu re-entered the transfer portal. The 6-0 guard has one year of COVID-19 eligibility remaining.

Longtime NBA player Jamal Crawford complimented Owusu’s latest video, as did WNBA free agent Te’a Cooper, who said Owusu looked “so tough.”

Former Maryland teammate Angel Reese, who transferred to LSU last offseason and then led the Tigers to the national championship, also applauded Owusu’s video.

“This bout to be so scaryyyy,” Reese tweeted.

Could the pair be headed for a reunion at LSU? While it’s possible, Owusu is remaining mum on the subject.

The day before the video dropped, Owusu tweeted: “It feels so good to be back in the gym.” In the replies, someone asked her to drop details of her next stop, to which she replied with laughing emojis.

In three seasons at Maryland before transferring to Virginia Tech, Owusu was named All-Big Ten three times and was the recipient of the 2021 Ann Meyers Drysdale Award, recognizing the best shooting guard in women’s college basketball.

The dramatics from the NCAA semifinal spilled over onto Twitter following Virginia Tech’s 79-72 loss to LSU.

After one user tweeted that “Ashley Owusu isn’t on the bench anymore” and questioned it, Virginia Tech’s Kayana Traylor tweeted back: “hmm idk check the lsu bench.”

The tweet was retweeted by Cayla King, Taylor Soule and star player Elizabeth Kitley, while Georgia Amoore liked the tweet as well. But Owusu’s father, Emmanuel, had words back.

“Maybe you should [tell] the truth about how he hasn’t spoken to several kids in the team for months,” he wrote. “How about the special group chat the coach has with 7 of the kids.”

And Owusu’s former Maryland teammate, Angel Reese, who played against Tech as a star for LSU, tweeted “FREE MY DAWG @Ashleyyowusu15.”

To which King replied, “She’s been free.”

It’s unknown what has caused the rift between the teammates, although Owusu has not played for Virginia Tech since February. And while there was a lot that hadn’t been seen before on the court in last night’s games, Los Angeles Sparks’ guard Lexie Brown summed up the drama best:

College basketball’s biggest stage is set. Iowa, South Carolina, LSU and Virginia Tech are headed to the Final Four, and in three short days, one team will hoist the national championship trophy.

First, No. 3 LSU and No. 1 Virginia Tech (7 pm ET, ESPN), and No. 2 Iowa and No. 1 South Carolina (9 pm ET, ESPN) square off on Friday for the final two spots.

Iowa vs. South Carolina

To have Caitlin Clark and Aliyah Boston, the country’s top two players, squaring off in the Final Four is a gift from the basketball gods. And though the 2023 National Player of the Year and 2022 National Player of the Year will dominate headlines, this game is going to come down to the other eight players on the court.

Clark is going to be Clark. No one in the country has been able to contain her thus far, and even with an elite defender like Brea Beal marking her, I don’t see South Carolina slowing her down either. On the other side, Boston is going to be Boston. Monika Czinano is a talented center, but she’s no match for Boston, who will likely dominate the post matchup.

So, the stars will likely cancel each other out, meaning the winner of this game will be determined by the supporting cast. In that battle, South Carolina is superior. Beal, Victoria Saxton, Zia Cooke and Kierra Fletcher round out the Gamecocks’ starting five, which will go up against Czinano, Gabbie Marshall, McKenna Warnock and Kate Martin. While Iowa has shooters, their ability to score hinges largely on the playmaking skills of Clark, whereas South Carolina’s role players can create their own looks.

Then, there’s the bench. Iowa’s Hannah Stuelke is going to have an incredible future in the program, and Molly Davis has provided exactly what the Hawkeyes needed from her off the bench, but South Carolina has the best bench unit in the country. With 6-foot-7 Kamilla Cardoso and elite point guard Raven Johnson, the Gamecocks don’t experience any drop-off when they go to the bench. It also means they don’t have to worry about foul trouble, a luxury Iowa doesn’t have.

Pick: South Carolina

The matchup between Virginia Tech's Elizabeth Kitley and LSU's Angel Reese will be one to watch. (G Fiume/Getty Images)

LSU vs. Virginia Tech

When it comes to personalities, there aren’t two teams more different than LSU and Virginia Tech. The Tigers find motivation through trash talk and celebrations, while the Hokies prefer to keep their heads down and play basketball. The fact that both teams are here speaks to how important it is for coaches to let their players be themselves. When they embrace personalities, it allows their players to thrive.

When it comes to production, however, LSU and Virginia Tech have similar makeups. They both rely on an elite guard/post combo to power their offenses. For LSU, that’s Angel Reese and Alexis Morris, and for Virginia Tech, it’s Elizabeth Kitley and Georgia Amoore.

Reese averages 23.2 points and 15.7 rebounds per game, while Kitley averages 18.2 points and 10.7 rebounds. This post matchup could be the best of the tournament. As for the guards, Amoore contributes 16.3 points and 5.0 assists per game, while Morris averages 14.9 points and 4.1 assists.

Like in the South Carolina-Iowa matchup, I expect someone other than the stars to step up. It could be a player like Flau’jae Johnson for LSU, who has had a remarkable freshman campaign, or 3-point specialist Cayla King for Virginia Tech.

The 3-point line is going to be key in this game, as the Hokies like to shoot from long range. Amoore set the record for most makes in the first four games of the tournament with 20. King, meanwhile, averages 8.1 points per game, with 6.6 of those coming from beyond the arc. The Hokies are 20th in the country in 3-point makes, while LSU is 249th (out of 361) when it comes to defensive 3-point rate, meaning the Tigers allow a lot of points from deep.

Pick: Virginia Tech

Eden Laase is a Staff Writer at Just Women’s Sports. Follow her on Twitter @eden_laase.

As Virginia Tech has made its historic run to the Final Four, high-profile transfer Ashley Owusu has been nowhere to be found.

The former Maryland standout played in the team’s first eight games of the season before missing time with a broken pinkie finger. Yet even after her return, she has struggled to crack the lineup. While she is “staying ready,” Owusu has not played since Feb. 26.

Following the Hokies’ run to their first ACC tournament championship, during which Owusu did not see any minutes, coach Kenny Brooks told The Roanoke Times that his team found its identity while Owusu was working her way back from injury.

“Everybody can just look and see and tell that we’ve got things going in a tremendous direction,” Brooks said. “[The injury] was an unfair situation — not only for her but for us because it usually takes transfers a little while to get used to your system. And the time they’re usually getting used to it, she was out.

“During that time, we formed a different identity — one that probably would’ve been different if she were healthy and playing throughout the month of December and January because … she would have been incorporated into the system. But she’s a different type player and we had to form a different identity.”

By the time that Owusu was ready to return, Brooks said that the team was in “the middle of a heated race” in the ACC. There wasn’t room to try and “reinvent ourselves,” he said, and with others playing well it was difficult to try and find her a place.

“I know she’s frustrated, but my job is to make sure that we’re winning,” he said. “And we are. Our goal was to win the ACC championship. We accomplished that. Our next goal’s to advance as far as we can in the NCAA Tournament. Ultimately, we have to go with what we feel like is the best for our team. And ultimately, it worked.”

And as Virginia Tech has made the first Final Four run in school history, Brooks hasn’t messed with what’s worked for his team, which leaves Owusu riding the bench.

Ahead of the Final Four, Brooks talked with reporters about getting his players to buy into the program.

“I mean, it’s kind of like being a parent. You tell your kids if they act the right way, good things will happen to them. Same thing in recruiting,” he said. “Elizabeth Kitley took a blind leap of faith. Georgia Amoore took a blind leap of faith and trusted in me that if they did the things I told them to do, that everything would come to fruition. For me it’s exciting to watch them experience it.”

He knew the team “had the talent” to reach this point all they way back in the summer leading up to the season.

“They weren’t a cohesive unit during the summer, but we knew we had the makings of it just because we had so many mature kids,” he said. “And then really we hit our stride obviously with the winning streak, but when we lost to Duke, we learned a lot about ourselves. There was no yelling in the locker room after that game. I told the kids, let this sting. We’ll get another opportunity to play them, and I said, don’t let it bother us. Let it kick us forward.

“From that moment, the look in their eyes, they’ve been pure professionals. They’ve gone out, everyone understands their role and they’ve done them and they’ve starred in their roles.”

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.

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.

Amoore celebrates as Virginia Tech runs out the clock on Ohio State. (Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

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.

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.”

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.