MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — Georgia Tech erased a six-point deficit in the fourth quarter and captured a tough battle on the road at Middle Tennessee State, 61-60, Thursday night. Three Yellow Jackets scored in double-figures, helping Tech improve to 10-2 on the season.
“I’m just really proud of the way we came back in the second half,” commented head coach MaChelle Joseph. “We got down six and were able to sustain our defensive intensity and get back in control of the game. The four stops on the baseline out-of-bounds plays were huge. I’ve never been in that situation in my career to have four different plays with under 0.8 seconds on the shot clock. But I thought our players really stepped up and made key defensive plays when we had to. I was really impressed with the play of our post players today. Zaire O’Neil and Elo Edeferioka were really impressive on the inside.”
How It Happened
Trailing by two with 2:32 to play in the game, Zaire O’Neil converted a layup and finished the three-point play at the free throw line to return the final lead to Georgia Tech. Playing in her first contest as a Yellow Jacket, Kaylan Pugh extended Tech’s lead to 61-58 hitting a layup at 1:19 before MTSU’s Alex Johnson cut the score to 61-60 with a jumper with less than a minute left. Strong defense from Tech in the final minute, and on MTSU’s multiple inbounds plays, sealed the win for the Yellow Jackets.
After MTSU knotted the game twice early in the third quarter, O’Neil subbed into the game and jumpstarted an 8-2 Tech run to give the Yellow Jackets a 44-38 advantage with 2:21 left in the stanza. Ty Petty would connect on a triple to slice the score to 46-43 entering the fourth quarter. The Blue Raiders opened the final frame with an 8-0 spurt to grab a 51-46 edge and held the lead until O’Neil’s three-point play with 2:32 left to play.
Georgia Tech shot 52.4 percent (11-21) from the floor in the first half fueled by 10 points from Elo Edeferioka and nine points from Zaire O’Neil. However, the Yellow Jackets held just a two-point advantage at halftime as MTSU was 13-of-17 from the charity stripe in the first 20 minutes. The Blue Raiders hit more free throws in the first half than converted field goals as the home squad was just 7-of-22 from the field for a 31.8 percent clip.
The teams worked through eight lead changes and two ties in the first half despite MTSU holding the lead for just 1:14 of the game. Tech raced out to a 9-2 lead to open the contest before MTSU began to slowly chip away at its deficit. The Blue Raiders tied the score early in the second quarter and grabbed their first lead off a Katie Collier three-pointer at the 6:50 mark. MTSU held only a one-point lead four times in the first half. Tech’s largest lead was seven in the first quarter.
* Tech moved to 10-2 on the season with the win and pushed its record to 2-1 in true road games
* The Yellow Jackets now own three straight wins over Middle Tennessee State and remain undefeated in the all-time series
* Tech converted 17 MTSU turnovers into 16 points and the bench contributed 30 points in the win
* MTSU narrowly won the rebounding battle, 31-30, and converted 17-of-23 free throw attempts
* The teams worked through seven ties and 14 lead changes in the contest
* Tech shot 46.0 percent (23-50) from the floor and 55.0 percent (11-20) from the free throw line
Georgia Tech opens a three-game homestand next and closes out non-conference play on Dec. 29 welcoming Princeton for a 7 p.m. matchup in McCamish Pavilion.