Starting Five: Women's Basketball Heads to the Pacific Northwest

Dec. 20, 2010

The Georgia Tech Bowl Preview Radio Show is scheduled for tonight from 7-8 p.m. at Fox Sports Grill in Atlantic Station. Jeff Woolverton and Rick Strom will host the show with a list of special guests. If you can’t be there, we hope you will listen-in.

By Jon Cooper
Sting Daily

TECH LEADING SCORER: Alex Montgomery, 14.8 ppg
PORTLAND STATE. LEADING SCORER: Courtney VanBrocklin, 13.4 ppg
WASHINGTON LEADING SCORER: Kristi Kingma, 17.7 ppg

TECH LEADING REBOUNDER: Alex Montgomery, 8.6 rpg
PORTLAND STATE. LEADING REBOUNDER: Courtney VanBrocklin, 6.2 rpg
WASHINGTON LEADING REBOUNDER: Mackenzie Argens, 6.7 rpg

TECH SCORING: 62.3 ppg
PORTLAND STATE: 65.2 ppg
WASHINGTON PPG: 56.9 ppg

TECH OPPONENTS SCORING: 57.5 ppg
PORTLAND STATE OPPONENTS: 66.9 ppg
WASHINGTON: 55.0 ppg

After more than two weeks off, it’s back to the hardwood for Head Coach MaChelle Joseph’s Yellow Jackets, as they travel to the Pacific Northwest for a matchup with Portland State and then, on Thursday with the University of Washington.

When we last left our heroes, they were putting the exclamation point on a four-game winning streak with an emphatic thumping of rival Georgia, 69-53, on Dec. 5, at Alexander Memorial Coliseum. The Yellow Jackets were led by senior Alex Montgomery and freshman Tyaunna Marshall, who would be rewarded with ACC Player and ACC Rookie of the Week. Tonight’s game is first game since coming back from their break for exams.

The Vikings of Portland State are 5-5, having lost three of their last four. But all three losses came on the road, at UC-Irvine, Nevada and Brigham Young. Earlier in the season, they also dropped a tight 51-50 decision to Washington in Seattle. They have yet to lose at home this season, as they sport a 3-0 mark at the Peter W. Stott Center.

Following today’s game, the Jackets travel to Washington. The Huskies, who were 5-3 heading into yesterday’s home tilt with Western Michigan, saw their three-game winning streak snapped, 59-54, to UC Riverside, on Dec. 8. That was their last game prior to taking eight days off for final exams. The match-up with Georgia Tech will be their third of a five-game stretch at Clarence S. “Hec” Edmundson Pavilion, and completes the non-conference portion of their schedule. Washington is 2-1 this year at home.

Tech has no previous history with either the Vikings or the Huskies.

Now, the Starting Five for today’s (and Thursday’s) game.

Quality AND Quantity: Head Coach MaChelle Joseph is not kidding when she says her teams will take on anyone, anywhere. This trip continues the trend of playing quality non-conference opponents even if it means traveling to places far away from the AMC. Portland State won its first Big Sky Tournament Championship last season and reached the NCAA Tournament (they lost their first-round game to second-seeeded Texas A&M). Tech, which already has traveled to St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands to tangle with teams Georgetown and Tennessee, as well as with Missouri of the Big 12, now heads to the Pacific Northwest. These are only the second and third road games of the season. The other was a 65-63 loss on Nov. 14 to Old Dominion, in Norfolk, Va.

I Am Third: Every team likes to have a third offensive option and Metra Walthour has stepped up in that role. She’s third in scoring at 8.6 ppg, almost double her output from last season (3.9 ppg), and her 3.7 assists (seventh in the ACC) and 2.0 rebounds are well ahead of last season, when she grabbed 1.3 rebounds and dished 2.75 assists. Her 1.7 assists-to-turnovers (sixth in the ACC) also is up from 1.3 last season. Her 39.4 percent shooting from three is 11th in the ACC and is up from the 15.6 percent she shot from three heading into 2010-11. Her 32.5 minutes per game currently rank second in the ACC.

Alex On The Offensive: Alex Montgomery is back among the elite in the ACC. With four straight double-digit-scoring games, Montgomery has worked her way into the Top 10 in the conference in scoring, as she ranks eighth at 14.8 ppg. She’s also cracked the top 10 in three-point shooting (40.4, eighth), and is tied for third in three-point field goals made (2.1 per game) and minutes (31.5 mpg).

In Alex’s Defense: Everyone knew Montgomery could shoot and score with the best in the ACC. What may not have been as well known but has become obvious, is that she can rebound with the best in the ACC. Actually, thus far, it’s more like the ACC has shown they can rebound with her. The Tech senior is second in the conference with 95 rebounds (8.6 per game). That’s one board behind conference leader Carolyn Swords of Boston College, who stands 6-6 (Montgomery is 6-1). Montgomery leads the ACC in defensive rebounds, with 74 (6.7 per game), eight more than Cierra Bravard of Florida State.

Defending The Three: The Yellow Jackets have held opponents to 29.0 shooting from the three-point line this season and will need an effort on this trip similar to the one they put together against Georgia, when they held the Bulldogs to 18.2 percent shooting from three (2-for-11, 0-for-6 in the second half). Portland State has shot 34.6 percent from three and has three players VanBrocklin (40.0), Eryn Jones (43.5) and Kelli Valentine (41.7) who shoot at least 40.0 percent. Washington shoots .333 from three. Kingma is the primary Huskie threat, as she is the only player with more than 10 three-point attempts.

The Sixth Man: The Yellow Jackets were out-rebounded for only the second time all season in their victory over Georgia, and for the first time since beating Georgia State on opening night. The 50 boards they allowed UGA were an opponent-high. Tech has won the rebounding battle by more than five boards a game this season (38.5 to 33.0).

PORTLAND STATE PLAYER TO WATCH: Courtney VanBrocklin: After sitting out last season following her transfer from Boise State, the 5-7 sophomore guard is making up for lost time, filling the stat sheet on both ends of the floor. VanBrocklin, a three-sport star (basketball, volleyball, track) at Mount Baker High School in Everson, Washington, leads the team in scoring, rebounding and steals. She can get to the basket as well as hit the three, where she’s a 40 percent shooter.

WASHINGTON PLAYER TO WATCH: Kristi Kingma: The versatile junior guard/forward is having an offensive awakening after primarily earning her stripes as a defender. Honorable Mention All-Pac-10 as a freshman and Honorable Mention All-Pac-10 Defensive Team last season, when she led the team in steals, Kingma, who had never averaged more than 9.4 ppg, is leading the team in scoring, field goals, three-point field goals, and assists, as well as steals, where her 20 are more than double her nearest teammate.

* Does not count Monday night’s game against Western Michigan.

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