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Hokies' Kitley, 3-time ACC player of the year, says she's out for NCAA Tournament

BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) — Three-time Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year Elizabeth Kitley of Virginia Tech will miss the Women's NCAA Tournament, she announced Thursday on social media.

Kitley, a second-team All American and the Hokies' top scorer and rebounder, sustained a torn ACL in Virginia Tech's final regular season game at Virginia.

The 6-foot-6 center averaged 22.8 points on 55.6% shooting, 11.4 rebounds and just over two blocks this season.

“This is not at all how I anticipated ending this year with my team,” she said in the post on Instagram.

Coach Kenny Brooks called the time since Kitley's injury emotionally “one of the most trying couple weeks of my life, for the kids as well, just because of what she means to us.”

Kitley, he said, has “been emotional. I’ve been emotional. I think we probably text each other probably 30 times a day. She will be good and then she will be sad. The kid has put everything into this and she’s the reason we are here. She’s the reason we are here. ... The kid ate, slept, drank basketball.”

Virginia Tech, seeded fourth this year after reaching the Final Four for the first time last year, will face Marshall in its opening game on Friday at Cassell Coliseum.

Kitley's absence will put increased pressure on guard Georgia Amoore, a third-team All-American, the team's second leading scorer at 19.2 ppg and top playmaker with just under seven assists per game, as well as Olivia Summiel, who has averaged 13 rebounds in the two games Kitley has already missed.

Summiel doesn't score like Kitley, averaging just 3.7 points, but the transfer from Wake Forest “had a couple of really big double digit rebounding games where she might have had only eight points, six points. But she knows her role, she’s comfortable with it, and she’s so valuable to us,” Amoore said.

“Mindset has stayed very much the same all the year, regardless of who we’re playing, where we’re playing at, what kind of stakes are at with us,” Amoore said Thursday. “So our mindset, it’s been pretty solid and been pretty consistent the whole year so we haven’t really been focused on that.”

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AP March Madness bracket: https://apnews.com/hub/ncaa-womens-bracket/ and coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/march-madness