Starting Five: Georgia Tech (15-6, 5-3) at Clemson (5-12, 1-5)

Jan. 28, 2012

By Jon Cooper
Sting Daily

Georgia Tech looks to continue its winning ways in ACC play in what could be a trap game, as they visit Clemson. Tip-off at Littlejohn Coliseum is set for 4:00 p.m.

The Yellow Jackets won for the fourth time in five games, knocking off Virginia, 63-53, Wednesday night at The Arena at Gwinnett Center. Sasha Goodlett had 14 points and 11 rebounds, both game-highs, while Ty Marshall added 13 points, seven rebounds and four assists and Metra Walthour chipped in with 11 points, hitting three three-pointers. The Jackets overcame early shooting woes and Walthour’s three with 1:21 left pushed the lead to 34-30, where it stayed at the half. Tech opened a nine-point lead three minutes into the second half then held off the Cavs, limiting them to 32.5 percent shooting in the final 20 minutes.

The Tigers dropped an 81-37 decision to No. 5 Duke Friday night at Littlejohn. But the final score was somewhat deceptive as the game was 25-22 with 5:30 to play in the first half before the Blue Devils closed the half on a 15-2 run. Clemson managed only 13 points in the second half. Sophomore center Quinyotta Pettaway had 12-points and a game-high 10-rebounds, and freshman point guard Nikki Dixon added 11 with four steals for the Tigers, who lost for the ninth time in 10 games and dropped to 0-4 at home in ACC play.

Today’s game is the 67th in the series, which began in 1980. The Yellow Jackets trail the series, 42-24, but have turned things upside down in recent years, having won 11 of the last 12 meetings, and the last five in Littlejohn. Tech had lost 22 of the series’ first 24 meetings.

Fans can catch today’s game 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, the Starting Five for today’s game.

The Last Time We Met: Sasha Goodlett scored a game-high 12 points, while Alex Montgomery and Chelsea Regins added 11 and 10 as Georgia Tech routed Clemson, 72-46, at Alexander Memorial Coliseum last Feb. 17. The win clinched the Jackets’ eighth 20-win season in school history and the fifth in eight seasons under Head Coach MaChelle Joseph. The Jackets limited Clemson to 33.3 percent shooting and took a 28-16 lead into halftime. They came out smoking in the second half, going on an early 13-5 run to double the lead, which they would eventually stretch to 30. Tech shot 54.8 percent in the final 20 minutes to pull away.

In-Sasha-ble: Goodlett continues to be unstoppable in the middle. It’s no coincidence that during Georgia Tech’s run of four wins in five games Goodlett has put up 19.8 points a game, grabbed 9.0 rebounds, and shot 50.8 percent (33-for-65). Tech’s senior center has even been rock solid at the free throw line, where she’s converting at 78.6 percent over the last five and 70.9 percent for the season. Goodlett came into the season shooting 65.1 percent from the line and with her best season being 66.4 percent as a sophomore. That year she attempted a career-high 107 free throws. Goodlett enters today’s game having taken 103 and eight games remaining.

Back Is Back: After the Florida State game, Sting Daily complemented Georgia Tech’s front court for out-assisting the back court. Against Virginia, things returned to normal — not that we or anyone else had expected otherwise — as the Jackets back court recorded 14 of Tech’s 18 assists. That was 18 assists on 24 field goals. The usual suspects came through, as Dawnn Maye dished out seven helpers, while Metra Walthour handed out six and Mo Bennett had one. The trio only turned the ball over 14 times. Tech continues to lead the ACC in both assists and assist-to-turnover ratio, averaging 16.5 assists per game and it is the only team that averages more assists per game than turnovers (16.5 to 15.9). Clemson is ninth in the conference in assists (11.5 apg) and is minus-12.5 in turnover margin.

Free and Easy: One area in which MaChelle Joseph’s teams always have excelled is domination at the free throw line. Not surprisingly, Tech’s 4-1 stretch has seen that trend continue. Over the last five games, Tech has outshot opponents 66.3 to 60.9 from the line, has outscored them 71-39 and has taken 107 attempts to opponents’ 64. In four of the games Tech has converted more free throws than its opponent has attempted, another Joseph trademark — although, the one game they were outshot and outscored at the line was the resounding win over Florida State. This domination is not a recent development, however, as the Jackets have outshot their ACC opponents 163-124 at the line, have taken the same or more free throws than their opponents in all but two games and have made only 10 fewer free throws (114) than ACC foes have attempted (124).

My Kinda Town, Clemson Is: Joseph likes coaching against Clemson. Career-wise, she has recorded 12 wins in 17 games against the Tigers. That’s the most against any single opponent (ACC rival Miami is next at 11), and her .706 winning percentage is third-best against any team she’s faced more than twice (Joseph is batting 1.000 against Kennesaw State (6-0) and Georgia State (8-0).

The Sixth Man:>Freshman T.J. Gortnar is showing signs of becoming an aggressive defensive presence, as she has recorded blocked shots in each of her last two games, three total. She’s done it in 17 minutes of action (12 minutes vs. Florida State, five vs. Virginia). Not coincidentally, those last two games have been her most extensive stretches of action in ACC play.

GEORGIA TECH LEADING SCORER: Tyaunna Marshall, 16.2 ppg
LEADING SCORER (ACC): Sasha Goodlett, 18.3 ppg

GEORGIA TECH LEADING REBOUNDER: Sasha Goodlett, 7.4 rpg
LEADING REBOUNDER (ACC): Sasha Goodlett, 9.1 rpg

CLEMSON LEADING SCORER: Nikki Dixon, 11.9 ppg
LEADING SCORER (ACC): Quinyotta Pettaway, 10.7 ppg

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

GEORGIA TECH SCORING/ACC: 72.2/69.8
OPPONENT/ACC: 59.5/66.5

CLEMSON SCORING/ACC: 57.2/48.3
OPPONENT/ACC: 62.2/61.8

CLEMSON PLAYER TO WATCH: Quinyotta Pettaway – The athletic 6-3 forward has made a tremendous leap in her second collegiate season. Pettaway is Clemson’s top scorer and rebounder in conference play, ranking ninth in rebounding (7.3 rpg), fifth in shooting (53.7 percent) and is near the top 10 in offensive and defensive rebounding. To show how far she’s come since her freshman year, Pettaway, who recorded her third double-double of the season in Clemson’s last game against Duke, averaged 1.4 points and 2.1 rebounds as a freshman.

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