CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — Elizabeth Kitley capped a night when she set Virginia Tech’s career scoring record by hitting a jumper at the buzzer to lift the ninth-ranked Hokies past No. 22 North Carolina 61-59 on Thursday night.
The 6-foot-6 senior finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds in a game played in her home state, the last coming with the Hokies (23-4, 13-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) locked in a tie game with 2.1 seconds left.
Cayla King inbounded to Kitley on the right side, who had space to calmly launch a jumper while UNC’s Anya Poole tried to close on her late. The shot dropped through the net, sending her skipping to midcourt to celebrate with her teammates in fast pursuit to mob her.
Kitley needed 16 points to tie the program scoring record of 1,883 points set by Aisha Sheppard just last year. She cracked that midway through the fourth quarter of a tight game, taking a feed from Georgia Amoore and hitting a midrange jumper over Poole at the 5:18 mark to tie it at 49-all.
Kayana Traylor added 20 points for Virginia Tech, which overcame an awful shooting start and a season-high 20 turnovers to win their seventh straight game.
Deja Kelly scored 18 points to lead the Tar Heels (19-9, 10-7), including what appeared to be a go-ahead jumper with 12.2 seconds left that had the ball rattling around the rim before dropping through the net for a 58-57 lead.
King followed by calmly hitting two free throws to put the Hokies back in front with 9.1 seconds left, while UNC’s Alyssa Ustby banked in a free throw to tie the game at 59-all but missed the second to set up Kitley’s jumper.
UNC shot 40.3% but scored 21 points off turnovers, while Virginia Tech made 45.3% even while going just 6 of 20 from 3-point range. But the Hokies also finished with a 41-28 rebounding edge.
Virginia Tech: The Hokies arrived having won six straight, including wins against ranked Florida State and North Carolina State teams before beating then-No. 9 Duke last week to avenge their last loss. That had put them in position to earn a double-round bye in next week’s ACC Tournament as a top-four seed.
UNC: The Tar Heels had lost three of five while both Ustby and Eva Hodgson were sidelined, with Hodgson last playing Jan. 22 before going out due to an illness and Ustby last playing Feb. 2 before being out with a lower-body injury. The mission now is for them to get back to full speed with only one game left in the regular-season schedule. Ustby had nine points on 4-for-11 shooting while Hodgson had two points but missed all four of her free throws in her return.
Virginia Tech: At Georgia Tech on Sunday.
UNC: At ninth-ranked Duke on Sunday.