Starting Five: Clemson (6-20, 2-13) @ No. 17/19 Georgia Tech (21-7, 11-4)

Feb. 25, 2012

By Jon Cooper
Sting Daily

It promises to be a bittersweet day for the No. 17/19 Georgia Tech Women’s Basketball Team, as it concludes its 2011-12 regular season and pays tribute to its dynamic senior class prior to facing Clemson. Tip-off at Forbes Arena on the campus of Morehouse College is set for 2:00 p.m.

The Yellow Jackets made it seven wins in their last eight Thursday night, taking out Virginia Tech, 76-66, at Cassell Coliseum in Blacksburg. Sasha Goodlett had 18 points and eight rebounds, both team highs, Metra Wlathour added 14 and Dawnn Maye handed out a game-high six assists. T.J. Gortnar’s jumper with 11:24 left in the half broke the game’s fifth tie and sparked a 6-0 run which gave the Jackets the lead for good. Tech led by 16 at the half and extended the lead to 18 before the Hokies rallied, pulling within seven. But Tech iced the game at the foul line, hitting 8 of 10 free throws down the stretch.

The Tigers close out a nightmarish season that has seen them drop 10 of their last 11 in ACC play. They’ll try to play spoiler to Tech’s Senior Day after having theirs ruined by Florida State on Thursday night in a 74-52 loss at Littlejohn Coliseum. Shaniqua Pauldo and Nikki Dixon each had 11 to lead the Tigers, who shot 30.9 percent and made only 1-of-10 from three. Clemson hurt itself with 22 turnovers, which the Seminoles turned into 22 points.

Today’s game is the 68th in the series, which began in 1980. The Yellow Jackets trail, 42-24, but have dominated of late, topping the Tigers in 12 of the last 13 meetings, including a 63-54 win on Jan. 29 at Littlejohn, and seven straight in Atlanta. In the earlier meeting this season Ty Marshall led the way with 17, Sasha Goodlett went for 13 points and 10 rebounds and Chelsea Regins provided a dozen off the bench.

Fans can catch the action on WREK, 91.1 FM or online at www.WREK.org with Richard Musterer and Michele Van Gorp on the call. Fans can get live stats on RamblinWreck.com and also can get instant updates by following the team on Twitter at @GTWBB and can get more information on the team by liking them on Facebook, GTWomensBasketball.

And now, a special Senior Day Starting Five for today’s game.

LaQuananisha Adams: Playing her 118th career game today, the senior forward has matched her number this season by making a career-high 14 starts. ‘Nisha heads into today’s game having also already set career-bests for rebounds (82), offensive rebounds (27) and blocked shots (15 — four fewer than she had her first three seasons). Her seven offensive rebounds at Maryland on Jan. 16 are tied for the team’s single-game high.

‘Nisha says: “I think the best thing I’m going to remember is my teammates. l love each and every one of them with all my heart. We’re like sisters. We’re all so close. I’m proud of all the things we have accomplished and the growth that we’ve had.”

Chelsea Regins: Playing her 121st career game today — all of them with unlimited energy — the senior forward has been invaluable doing the dirty work her entire four years. Regins continued that trend this year. She is 15th in ACC play in offensive rebounds (37) and of her 115 overall rebounds, she has grabbed more on the offensive end (58) than on the defensive end (57). Her 58 ORs are third on the team, behind Sasha Goodlett (83) and Ty Marshall (83), despite playing nearly 10 fewer minutes a game. While she’s made her biggest impact coming off the bench, Regins has a winning record as a starter, as the Jackets are 4-1 this year in games she’s started. She’s also been money at the end of games, as she’s sixth in the ACC in free throw shooting, converting at 82.4 percent (28-for-34).

Chelsea says: “I think we are just a special five. I don’t think there is an actual moment but just watching over the years, from where we started to where we are now, and how much our relationships have grown, I think that speaks for itself, as far as how strong we are as a group.”

Mo Bennett:>Playing in her 128th game today (tied for second all-time with Sasha Goodlett, two behind Brigitte Ardossi), Bennett has been to the back court what Regins has been to the front court. Her value is not always apparent in numbers but she has had her moments this season. Mo earned her first double-double of the season at Middle Tennessee State (10 points, 10 rebounds), and provided a spark on the boards in wins at Clemson and over NC State, grabbing eight rebounds in both games, including pulling in four offensive rebounds against the Tigers, matching her season high. A hard-nosed defender, Bennett’s 17 steals in ACC play are third on the team. While she hasn’t shot much her senior season, she’s been efficient when she has, canning 41.9 percent of her shots (13-for-31), Only Sasha Goodlett and Regins, have shot better (minimum 25 attempts).

Mo says: “We’ve come from different backgrounds and we’ve all learned that it’s not always easy. So just being able to show that to our teammates every day in practice, through injuries, through not wanting to get up, being tired, being sick, it’s a personal role that you take on that you learn as you get here. It’s hard at times but it’s something that you have to do. The five of us make up the perfect person. We’re all integral parts.”

Metra Walthour: Playing in her 122nd game today, Walthour has been the prototypical point guard in her four years. She’ll finish in the top five in career assists, and in the top 10 in three-point field goals, but has been as much of force on the defensive end of the floor, where she’s also in the top 10 in steals. Walthour stepped up as the team’s main three-point threat this season, shooting 40 points higher than her career average and stroking 52 from behind the arc, a career-high. Me-Me established herself as one of the premier point guards in the ACC, as she ranks in the top 10 in assists (3.9 apg, fourth), three-pointers made (2.2 per game, third), assist-to-turnover ratio (1.9, tops in the conference), and minutes (35.6 mpg, third). playing 35.6 i

Me-Me Says: “I’m really excited about Senior Day. I’m excited to see all the teammates that have supported us for so long and I’m also excited for me and my fellow classmates because we have worked so hard these past four years. I’m really appreciative of my team. A lot of times, the seniors get all the talk about Senior Day but our teammates are going to be the ones that are going to step up for us. They’ve always been there for us. We couldn’t have had the success we’ve had this season without them. So I’m very appreciative of my teammates and my coaching staff.”

Sasha Goodlett: Playing in her 128th career game (tied for second all-time with Bennett), Goodlett has blossomed into an ACC Player of the Year candidate, having put the team on her back all season long. Goodlett has led the Jackets in scoring 16 times and rebounding 12 times and is one of three players to rank in the top 10 in the ACC in scoring (15.3 ppg, fifth), rebounding (7.5, eighth) and blocks (1.5 bpg, fifth). She really stepped up in conference play, where she’s second in scoring (16.7 ppg) and fourth in rebounding (8.6 rpg). Goodlett is shooting close to 51 percent in ACC games and is hitting 76.5 percent of her free throws (11th). She came into the season averaging 9.6 points and 5.0 rebounds, while shooting 45.7 percent and 65.1 from the line. The most recent member of the school’s 1,000-point club, getting there Dec. 21 against Central Arkansas, Goodlett is 16 points away from moving into 12th place all-time on the Tech scoring list.

Sasha Says: “I’m really excited about [Senior Day]. I’m not going into it with any expectations. I want to go in and have a great day with my classmates, reflecting back on these past four years that we’ve had and obviously, our success that we’re having right now. It’s bittersweet because I really can’t believe that it’s here but I’m not really trying to focus in on just having to have a great Senior Night. I want to go in and appreciate these last three years and play hard like I do every game.”

The Sixth Man: A win today would continue this senior class’ re-writing of the record books. Having already secured a record-setting sixth straight 20-win season — a sixth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance is on the horizon — they can add to their single-season record for ACC wins (currently 11), set a school record for most ACC wins by a class (they’re currently tied at 35), and can set a record for most regular-season wins (they have 85). Both records were set by last year’s senior class. In addition, a win today combined with a Maryland loss at NC State would give the Jackets third place in the ACC, the program’s highest finish.

GEORGIA TECH LEADING SCORER: Sasha Goodlett, 15.3 ppg
LEADING SCORER (ACC): Sasha Goodlett, 16.7 ppg

GEORGIA TECH LEADING REBOUNDER: Sasha Goodlett, 7.5 rpg
LEADING REBOUNDER (ACC): Sasha Goodlett, 8.6 rpg

CLEMSON LEADING SCORER: Nikki Dixon, 12.8 ppg
LEADING SCORER (ACC): Nikki Dixon, 12.3 ppg

CLEMSON LEADING REBOUNDER: Quinyotta Pettaway, 7.3 rpg
LEADING REBOUNDER (ACC): Quinyotta Pettaway, 7.5 rpg

GEORGIA TECH SCORING/ACC: 71.2/68.6
OPPONENT/ACC: 59.1/62.3

CLEMSON SCORING/ACC: 54.5/48.9
OPPONENT/ACC: 64.3/65.1

Clemson Player to Watch: None. While Nikki Dixon is an tremendous talent and Quinyotta Pettaway is an exciting watch, today is about Georgia Tech’s Seniors.

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