Starting Five: Georgia Tech (9-3) vs. North Carolina A&T (6-6)

Dec. 27, 2011

By Jon Cooper
Sting Daily

Winners of four straight and five of six, Georgia Tech went into the Christmas break feeling pretty good about itself. The Jackets will take those good feelings into their final non-conference game and last game of 2011 when they take on the Aggies of North Carolina A&T Thursday afternoon at The Arena at Gwinnett Center. Tip-off is at 2:00 p.m.

The Jackets finished off their two-game stop-over in Nassau with a 67-61 victory over Central Arkansas in their final game of the Bahamas Sunshine Shootout. Center Sasha Goodlett scored a game-high 23 points, which included her 1,000th career point and grabbed a team-high seven rebounds to lead the Jackets. Metra Walthour chipped in 16 with six assists (vs. one turnover) and four steals. Tech led by eight at the break after holding UCA without a field goal for more than 10 minutes. They led by as much as 15, then held off the stubborn Sugar Bears, who pulled to within four twice in the final two minutes. Goodlett was named MVP of the tournament, and Walthour was named to the All-Tournament team.

The Aggies have lost four straight, all of them on the road, where they have gone 1-4. In their last game, they dropped a 68-61 decision at Wofford. A&T shook up it’s starting lineup, bringing All-MEAC selection JaQuayla Berry off the bench. The move woke up Berry, who had a game-high 27, but couldn’t stop the team’s road woes and first-half scoring problems. A&T shot 29.1 percent and was 0-for-10 from three yet still only trailed by five at the half. Their field goal percentage picked up in the second half and they shot for the lead with two minutes left, but couldn’t convert. Three-point shooting proved the difference, as A&T’s remained frigid in the final 20 (3-for-13), while the home-standing Terriers hit 4-of-6, including two huge threes that extended the lead to five and later then to four, as they held on.

Tech fans can catch tonight’s game on WREK, 91.1 FM or online at www.WREK.org with Richard Musterer and Michele Van Gorp on the call. It can be streamed on Ramblinwreck.com, where fans also can get live stats. Fans 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.

Now, the Starting Five for Thursday afternoon’s game.

The Last Time We Met: Georgia Tech heads into uncharted waters for the third straight game, as Thursday’s game with N.C. A&T is the first meeting between the schools — they also met SIU-Edwardsville and Central Arkansas for the first time in the Bahamas. If history is any indication, Georgia Tech is due for a good day. The Jackets are 7-0 against the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC), going 2-0 vs. Florida A&M, and 1-0 against Coppin State, Hampton, Howard, Maryland-Eastern Shore and Winston-Salem State. Under head coach MaChelle Joseph, Tech is 4-0, with a victory margin of 30.5 (37.6 in three home games), having taken 39- and 35-point wins over Florida A&M and a 39-pointer over Winston-Salem State at AMC. Tech beat Hampton by nine on a neutral court, at the 2009 FIU Sun & Fun Classic held in Miami. The 39-point wins are well short of Tech’s biggest wins vs. MEAC schools, as in 1992, Tech beat Coppin State by 58 and in 1995 bested UMES by 50. Both of those were home games. The closest game in the series was in 1988, when Tech edged Howard by five, in the Augusta Basketball Classic in Augusta, Maine.

Ain’t Life Grand: Sasha Goodlet’s jumper with 5:25 left in the first half against Central Arkansas gave Tech an 11-point lead and put the 6-5 center over 1,000 points for her collegiate career. Goodlett became only the 25th Yellow Jacket to reach the milestone, putting her in pretty exclusive company. Goodlett’s 23-point effort against Central Arkansas marked the fourth time in five games that she led or had a share of the team scoring lead. She led the team twice in Tech’s first seven games. In the recent five-game span, Goodlett, who was named ACC Co-Player of the Week, is averaging 16.8 points and shooting 53.0 percent from the floor.

Coming Up On a Thousand: Sophomore guard Tyaunna Marshall will likely be the next Yellow Jacket to reach the 1,000-point club. She already has 662 points in only 47 collegiate games, a 14.1 ppg average. At that pace, Marshall would need approximately 24 games to reach the mark. Then, again, Marshall has exceeded her average in seven of Tech’s 12 games and is shooting much better from three than last year (.429 vs. 286). As a freshman last season, including ACC and postseason play, Marshall had eight games where she scored more than 14 points and two others where she hit 14 on the nose. With 17 games remaining and assuming Tech can match last season, when it made the ACC Tournament semifinals and the second round of the NCAAs, Marshall could reach 1,000 points this season by averaging 16.1 points a game.

From Me-Me To You: Metra Walthour had six assists in the game against Central Arkansas, her 31st career game with at least three assists. It gave her 305 for her career, leaving her six short of passing Anita Malone, who had 310 from 1982-86, for ninth place all-time in school history. Walthour is averaging 3.9 assists per game, which over the schedule’s final 17 games (not counting postseason) would give her 371 assists for the season. In the last three games, Walthour has had a seven-assist game at Georgia State and a six-assist game vs. Central Arkansas. She had only one turnover in those two games. In between was an extreme rarity — as against SIU-Edwardsville, she went the entire game without registering an assist. That snapped a streak of 24 games with an assist. She was last held without a helper last Jan. 21 vs. Duke.

On The Rebound: Georgia Tech has more than held its own on the boards thus far in 2011-12. Despite losing Alex Montgomery, who was second in the ACC with 8.6 rebounds per game, and Deja Foster, who was 18th with 6.0 rpg., the Yellow Jackets are hanging with their opponents on the glass. They’ve been outrebounded in four of their 12 games — against Marquette, Rutgers, Green Bay and Central Arkansas –but the first three came in November. They also were matched on the boards at Middle Tennessee State. For the season, Tech has a plus-4.8 rebounding margin and has a 6-1 record when outrebounding or is even in rebounds. So far this season, the Jackets have done yeoman’s work on the offensive glass, winning the battle there in eight of 12 games and holding an edge in second-chance points in nine of 12 games. The Jackets have three players with at least 20 offensive rebounds in Marshall (35), Goodlett (27) and Chelsea Regins (20). Mo Bennett (18) and Danielle Hamilton-Carter (16) are knocking on the door.

The Sixth Woman: Perhaps as rare as Walthour being held without an assist is Chelsea Regins being held without a rebound. That actually happened in the game against Central Arkansas. Of course, her time was limited to eight minutes. Regins has not been held without a rebound in a game she’s played at least 10 minutes this year. The Bahamas saw another oddity regarding the senior. She did not grab a single offensive carom in two games — her four boards against SIU-Edwardsville all came on the defensive end. It’s the first time all season that she’s been blanked in offensive rebounds in back-to-back games. In fact, Regins, who has six multi-offensive-rebound games, has grabbed more offensive boards than defensive boards four times.

GEORGIA TECH LEADING SCORER: Tyaunna Marshall, 15.6 ppg
GEORGIA TECH LEADING REBOUNDER: Tyaunna Marshall, 5.9 rpg

N.C. A&T LEADING SCORER: JaQuayla Berry, 15.1 ppg
N.C. A&T LEADING REBOUNDER: JaQuayla Berry, Nikia Gorham, 6.5 rpg

GEORGIA TECH SCORING: 73.8 ppg
OPPONENT: 55.1 ppg

N.C. A&T SCORING: 71.8 ppg
OPPONENT: 73.9 ppg

N.C. A&T PLAYER TO WATCH: JaQuayla Berry – The 5-11 junior is a talented two-way player, who offensively, is explosive in getting to the basket, but also can post up and must be taken seriously from behind the three-point line. She’s improved defensively, where she leads the team in rebounding, steals and blocked shots. The Douglas, Ga., native (Coffee High School) came off the bench in A&T’s last game and lit it up, scoring a season-high 27 on 9-of-15 shooting, just missing a double-double, as she had nine rebounds.

–RamblinWreck.com–

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