In sight of fifth straight win, Miami battles No. 23 Virginia Tech on the road

Freshman Ja’Leah Williams talks to teammates Karla Erjavec, Maeva Djaldi-Tabdi, Destiny Harden and Lashae Dwyer in Miami's 60-50 win over Pittsburgh on Thursday, Feb. 17, 2022 at the Watsco Center.
Freshman Ja’Leah Williams talks to teammates Karla Erjavec, Maeva Djaldi-Tabdi, Destiny Harden and Lashae Dwyer in Miami's 60-50 win over Pittsburgh on Thursday, Feb. 17, 2022 at the Watsco Center. Photo credit: Sam Peene

After one of its biggest wins of the season, Miami’s women’s basketball team has another date with a ranked opponent in No. 23 Virginia Tech on Thursday at 6 p.m.

Miami comes into the matchup after upsetting No. 16 Georgia Tech on the road in Atlanta, holding the Yellow Jackets to only 39 points. It remains the Hurricanes’ best defensive performance of the year.

“I couldn’t be more proud to have legs, at all, for the week we’ve had. We absolutely deserved that win, we earned it, we fought hard for it,” said Miami coach Katie Meier.

The Hurricanes (16-10, 9-7 Atlantic Coast Conference) were led by Karla Erjavec and Maeva Djaldi-Tabdi, who scored each 12 and 10 points, respectively. The team enjoyed a 22 to 14 advantage in the turnover battle.

With the win, Miami concludes a stretch where it played four games in one week. It didn’t seem to be an issue for the Hurricanes, however, as they won each to build a four-game winning streak.

“[Georgia Tech is] very, very good,” Meier said. “I don’t want anyone to read this score and say, ‘What’s wrong with Georgia Tech?’ You just better keep an eye on Miami because we’re playing very, very well right now.”

Virginia Tech (20-7, 12-4 ACC) enters the game off a tough 70-56 loss at No. 3 Louisville. The Hokies, however, had won their prior road game 102-53 against Syracuse. Their win on Feb. 17 was part of a five-game win streak which included back-to-back wins against ranked opponents in No. 11 Georgia Tech and No. 23 North Carolina.

Miami will be tasked with stopping center Elizabeth Kitley of the Hokies. Kitley, a reigning First-Team All-ACC honoree and former ACC Freshman of the Year, has averaged a double-double for the season with 17.7 points per game and 10.2 rebounds per game. Moreover, Kitley has had at least 20 points and 11 rebounds in each of the past two games.

As a team, Virginia Tech averages just over 70 points a game and holds opponents to only 55.7 points per night. Comparatively, Miami averages 61.3 points while allowing 58.9 points per game.

From the 3-point line, Virginia Tech is solid, shooting 36.5%. Miami has shot 30.1% from downtown over the course of the season.

“It’s going to be a different fight, they [Virginia Tech] score quite a bit,” Meier said. “They’re dynamic, they can really score, we’re going to have to really not give them the ball a lot.”

The Hokies, being a strong offensive team, do not make as many mistakes with the ball. As a team, Virginia Tech averages only 12.6 turnovers a game compared to Miami’s 17.6. More than likely, Miami will need to be more disciplined with the basketball than usual to overcome Virginia Tech.

Often able to out-rebound opponents utilizing its size, Miami may not have a significant advantage against the Hokies. Miami averages 37 rebounds per game while Virginia Tech grabs 37.3 of their own.

The Canes enter the last road game of the season on Thursday. After, Miami returns home to face Clemson on Sunday at 4:30 to wrap up the season before heading to Greensboro, North Carolina, for the ACC Tournament.