March 31, 2023 

Key takeaways from LSU’s win over Virginia Tech

Fierce battle in early game of 2023 Women's Final Four

DALLAS — Early in the third quarter, Virginia Tech held a double-digit lead. But a fourth quarter indistinguishable from virtually any game the Tigers played all season — suffocating defense, Angel Reese dominating on the glass — put LSU in the championship game with a 79-72 victory Friday night in the 2023 Women’s Final Four.

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Let’s break down key takeaways:

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Virginia Tech early struggles from deep

Virginia Tech shot 34.9 percent from three entering Friday night’s game, good for 39th in the country. But the shots were not falling for the Hokies from deep, especially early on, as Georgia Amoore missed five of her first six threes. Her third three did, however, make history, elevating her to the player with the most made threes in a single NCAA Tournament.

By halftime, Virginia Tech had missed 12 of its 16 attempts from deep. But it didn’t matter, because…

Hokie haul

…a 25-14 edge on the boards for Virginia Tech, which helped spark an 11-0 run, gave the Hokies a 34-32 lead at the break, eventually reaching 16-0 and a 39-32 lead early in the third.

While the rebounding edge continued, the poor shooting from Virginia Tech didn’t, and Taylor Soule’s long two put the Hokies ahead by double digits with just over six minutes left in the third quarter. A pair of uncharacteristic threes helped LSU cut the deficit as close as five, but even that was a sign of how much Virginia Tech dictated the proceedings most of the night.

Fourth quarter Tiger roar

That changed early in the fourth. Reese had begun asserting herself on the boards, grabbing six rebounds in the third after hauling down just two in the first half, and the Tigers’ defensive intensity bothered Virginia Tech once more. A pin-down move and finish at the rim by Reese capped a 7-0 run in the first 1:48 of the fourth and forced Hokies’ head coach Kenny Brooks to call timeout, the Virginia Tech lead down to 59-57.

A Georgia Amoore three out of a timeout only briefly stalled LSU’s rally, which pushed the Tigers into the lead on a lovely finish at the rim by Flau’jae Johnson, and increased to 66-62 when Kateri Poole sank a jumper. LSU all but erased Virginia Tech’s edge on the glass by then, too. That Amoore three would be her last basket from the field, finishing 4-for-17 to really earn her 17 points.

The media timeout couldn’t stop the Tigers. Reese reached a double-double on a pair of offensive boards, followed by a putback. Another board and a pair of free throws, then a Johnson layup, and LSU extended to 72-62 with under three minutes to go. Textbook LSU, holding Virginia Tech to a single field goal over the first eight minutes of the fourth quarter.

Angel Reese gathers her teammates late in the fourth quarter of the 2023 Women’s Final Four on Friday, Mar. 31, 2023. (Howard Megdal photo)

A pair of free throws by Alexis Morris gave her a game-high 27 points, and led to am impromptu celebration with Reese on the court as her team sensed the win and the “LSU! LSU!” chants rang out from the Tiger crowd. Moments later, the buzzer sounded, and Reese thrust her arms into the air, one win from a title.

Written by Howard Megdal

Howard is the founder of The Next and editor-in-chief.

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