ACC notebook: Spear, Kitley, Citron impressing early
Wake's Jewel Spear and Virginia Tech's Elizabeth Kitley shared ACC Player of the Week honors.
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Wake Forest’s Jewel Spear and Virginia Tech’s Elizabeth Kitley split ACC Player of the Week honors on Monday, and Notre Dame’s Sonia Citron was voted ACC Rookie of the Week.
For Spear, who is averaging 23.3 points per-game this season, some of her stellar play could be credited to the time she spent with USA Basketball this past summer, playing with the U-19 team in Hungary at the World Championships. Wake is off to a 3-0 start, and much of that is due to Spear’s play.
“The playing experience and what she got to do over there, playing at that level, is invaluable to us. She’s a kid that, her teammates, they count on her. She’s really a humble kid,” Wake Forest head coach Jen Hoover said last month at the ACC Tip-Off event in Charlotte. “She's going to put a lot on her shoulders this year, but she also knows she's got a lot of people pushing behind her. She knows she's got teammates that she can rely on.”
Virginia Tech is 3-0 and ranked No. 24 in the AP Top 25 Poll, and Kitley is a big reason why. In the Hokies’ victories over Georgia Washington, the junior center scored a career-high 34 points. She’s also averaging 9.7 boards and four blocks per-game this season.
“I’ve probably gotten better at reading defenses and not going back to what feels comfortable,” Kitley said last month in Charlotte. “Having your second option, passing out of the double-team – we worked on that a lot. I’m getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. In a game, you’re not always going to know what to do. You just have to wing it sometimes.”
Citron began her collegiate career with a strong debut, tallying 13 points, seven rebounds and six assists in a win over Ohio. Notre Dame is 3-0 and she’s averaging 8.7 points and six rebounds per-game so far. Citron has been coming off the bench, but she’s fifth on the team in minutes played and could be a crucial ingredient to the recipe for the Irish’s success this season.
“She’s been phenomenal,” Notre Dame head coach Niele Ivey said of Citron last month in Charlotte. “She's a worker; she stays in the gym. Very coachable, high IQ, very versatile – she does so many things well. She's a great defender, she can rebound, she can offensive rebound, she can shoot, she can pass – like, she does it all. So, I'm going to rely on her a lot, and she's going to make an impact right away.”
Georgia Amoore dished out a career-high nine assists for Virginia Tech in its 81-52 win over George Mason on Sunday.
Alyssa Utsby notched her third career double-double with 18 points, 12 rebounds and a team-best five assists in UNC’s 89-33 win over Charlotte on Sunday. The 49ers made just nine shots from the floor, and UNC outscored Charlotte in the paint 44-4. Utsby said of the win: “This was an example of us playing together. We were playing cohesively on offense and defense and it was just a great win. We had a lot of contributors, and we held each other accountable on defense – that’s a huge thing in order to get those tough team wins.”
Rita Igbokwe had a career-high 23 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks in Pitt’s 72-63 win over Lafayette on Friday.
N.C. State scored more than 85 points in each of its wins over Wofford, Florida and Towson. That’s the longest such scoring streak for the Wolfpack since 2013.
North Carolina’s win over Charlotte was the 1,000th victory for the Tar Heels’ program, which began in 1974.
Duke’s 70-56 win over Dayton on Friday was Kara Lawson’s first road victory as a collegiate head coach.
N.C. State’s 85-52 win over Florida on Sunday was the 750th victory of Wes Moore’s career as a head coach in women’s college basketball. Before coming to N.C. State in 2013, Moore was the head coach at UT-Chattanooga for 15 seasons. He also coached at Division II Francis Marion and Division III Maryville.
Lorela Cubaj scored her 1,000th career point – on a made free throw – in Georgia Tech’s win over Belmont. She’s averaging 9.7 points and 12.6 rebounds per-game this season.
Duke’s win over UNC-Wilmington marked the 100th game played in a Blue Devils’ uniform for Jade Williams.
Around the ACC
ACC play this season began on Sunday when Notre Dame won 82-56 at Syracuse. Olivia Miles had a near triple-double with 10 points, eight assists, seven rebounds and two steals. Sam Brunelle and Maddy Westbeld combined for 36 points. Syracuse had 20 turnovers and were outscored 20-3 on fast breaks.
Here’s what UNC-Wilmington head coach Karen Barefoot Lay had to say about Duke: “I think Coach Lawson has done an amazing job with this team. I think they’re a top 25 team. They spread you out so much. The fact that they can really shoot the three and make great basketball plays and they’re always moving without the ball. Duke, defensively, they can block shots and things like that. I mean, they will wear you down.”
Miami fired its athletic director this week. The move was clearly one driven by football, but something to watch will be how much leeway the new athletic director gives to women’s basketball head coach Katie Meier. This is her 17th season on the job, but in each of the last two seasons, Miami has missed the postseason and had losing records in ACC play. Also, the team has never gone to the Sweet 16 on her watch. The Athletic has more on the AD situation in Coral Gables.
Wes Moore, quote machine.
Elsewhere in Women’s Basketball
South Carolina’s Raven Johnson is out for the year after suffering a left knee injury last week in the Gamecocks’ win over South Dakota. Augusta Stone at The State has more.
Navy picked up its first win of the season on Tuesday against William & Mary. The Mids broke off a 22-0 run at one point in the contest. Jennifer Coleman led the way with 27 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists and four steals. Highlights are here.
Stuff I Wrote
For Inside MD Sports, here’s a recruiting round-up on Brenda Frese’s Terps. Maryland signed some 2022 recruits recently and got verbal commitments from a few 2023’s. Also for IMS, I covered Maryland’s win at James Madison on Sunday.
Two Duke men’s basketball players – Michael Savarino (Coach K’s grandson) and Paolo Banchero (a likely lottery pick) – were pulled over Sunday morning and now face DWI-related charges. I reported on the incident for WUNC, and then I covered Duke’s next game – a win that Banchero started in – for the AP.
Be safe. Y’all be good.
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