The Iowa Hawkeye women kicked off their 2023-2024 season with a bang as they routed Fairleigh Dickinson 102-46 on Monday night. But the competition stiffens significantly as Iowa travels to Charlotte, North Carolina to face off with #8 Virginia Tech on Thursday evening as part of the Ally Tipoff.
The Hokies, who fell to LSU in the Final Four a season ago, come into the matchup at 1-0 after they opened their season with a 94-55 win over High Point. VaTech was led by Elizabeth Kitley’s 27 points as they cruised to an easy victory.
Kitley is poised to be a problem for the Hawkeyes. She averaged 18.2 points and 10.7 rebounds per game a season ago to lead the Hokies. At 6’6”, Iowa simply doesn’t have the size to contend with her in the post. They’ll need to lean on a combination of bigs to defend Kitley, look to muscle her out for rebounds and perhaps get her into some foul trouble on the other end.
A season ago, Kitley became the first 2,000-point scorer in Virginia Tech history. She leads the program all-time in field goals, blocks and double-doubles. She’s a two-time ACC Player of the year, two-time AP All-American and three-time First Team All-ACC player.
It won’t just be Kitley carrying the load for Virginia Tech, however. The Hokies had four players in double figures in their opener, including Georgia Amoore who poured in 14 points and 9 assists vs High Point. Amoore averaged 16.3 points and 4.9 assists per game a season ago while leading the team from range with an average of 3.3 makes from beyond the arc per game. She shot 35% from deep a season ago while going 2 of 7 in the opener.
The impressive numbers helped Amoore earn MVP honors in last year’s ACC Tournament, as well as AP All-America Honorable Mention and First Team All-ACC honors.
Beyond Amoore and Kitley, look for junior Matilda Ekh and senior Cayla King to launch from deep. The duo combined to go 7 of 14 from beyond the arc in the opener and combine for 29 points.
Iowa’s ability to defend those shooters is paramount on Thursday night. The Hokies shot 45% from the field a season ago, but went a perfect 19-0 when shooting better than that. VaTech averaged 72.4 points per game last season, basically in line with what the Hawkeyes gave up on a nightly basis. Notably, Iowa’s 87.3 points per game last year was almost 30 points above the season average allowed by the Hokies.
Look for superstar Caitlin Clark to lead the way as usual as the Hawkeyes look to push the pace and get Virginia Tech out of their comfort zone. As noted, Clark’s ability to get going from deep will be equaled in importance by her ability to set up the likes of Hannah Stuelke, Sharon Goodman and Addison O’Grady.
Thursday night’s showdown is set to tip off at 7pm CT from Spectrum Arena in Charlotte. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2. The Hawkeyes are favored by 3.5 points according to DraftKings Sportsbook. The over/under is set at 147.5 total points.