Pan, O'Neil Lead Jackets to WNIT Quarterfinals

THE FLATS — Freshman Francesca Pan poured in 18 points in the first half and Zaire O’Neil took control in the second half with 14 points to lead Georgia Tech past MTSU 70-57 Thursday night in McCamish Pavilion. Tech will now host Alabama in the WNIT Quarterfinals on Sunday at 2 p.m. in McCamish Pavilion.

“I was really pleased with the way we came out to start the game,” commented head coach MaChelle Joseph. “Francesca Pan did a tremendous job in the first half carrying us and coming out really tough and making plays to start the game. I thought in the second half, Zaire O’Neil stepped up and showed us why she is our go-to player. The thing that pleased me the most was our rebounding. The fact that we outrebounded MTSU by 15 I think says a lot about the work that we put in on the boards. I was pleased overall with our execution, especially on the defensive end. We’ve held three teams in a row to under 60 points, so I think our defensive presence is getting much better.”

How It Happened
Setting the tone for the game in the first quarter, Tech came out blazing, racing away with a 17-2 lead by the 5:34 mark, forcing MTSU to call an early timeout. Behind the efforts of Pan, who scored 16 points on 6-of-6 shooting from the field, including hitting two three-pointers, the Jackets reached its first 20-point advantage of the game with just over a minute left to play in the first quarter. The Blue Raiders cut their deficit to 14 in the second quarter, but Antonia Peresson responded draining a triple in front of the MTSU bench to put the Jackets back on top 34-17 with 1:52 left in the half. Tech shot 44.0 percent from the field in the first half to carry a 34-20 lead into halftime.

MTSU came out of halftime and cut the score to 12 points outscoring Tech 11-9 through the first timeout, but the Jackets closed the quarter with a 14-1 run over the final 4:47 to claim its largest lead at 57-32. The Blue Raiders would climb back to 12 points in the fourth quarter using eight points from Kyla Allison and shooting 61.5 percent from the field, but it was not enough to overcome Tech’s commanding lead as the Jackets closed out the 70-57 win.

Tech Tidbits
* Georgia Tech moved to 20-14 overall, marking the ninth 20-win season under the direction of head coach MaChelle Joseph
* Tech reached the quarterfinals of the WNIT for the first time since 2000 (WNIT was a field of 32 teams until 2010)
* Francesca Pan led the Jackets with 18 points followed by Zaire O’Neil with 14 points
* Tech dominated on the glass, 46-31, and converted two offensive rebounds to open the game. The Jackets finished with 16 offensive boards, converting for 13 points
* MTSU finished shooting 8-of-26 from three-point range and hit 35.0 percent from the field
* The Jackets dished out 18 assists on the night led by Imani Tilford with four
* Tech outscored MTSU in the paint 34-16

Next Up
Georgia Tech hosts Alabama on Sunday at 2 p.m. for quarterfinal action in McCamish Pavilion. Tickets begin at $8 for adults, $6 for youth/seniors and $4 for groups of 10 or more. To purchase tickets, please click here.

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