Starting Five: Women's Hoops vs. Samford

Dec. 12, 2015

By Jon Cooper | The Good Word

Georgia Tech resumes its non-conference schedule when it takes on the Bulldogs of Samford of the Southern Conference. The second game of this current four-game homestand tips off at McCamish Pavilion at 2 p.m. ET.

The Yellow Jackets kicked off the homestand with a resounding 87-46 blowout of USC Upstate last Saturday afternoon. Roddreka Rogers scored a game- and career-high 19 points to lead five double-figure scorers for the Yellow Jackets, who scored the game’s first seven points and never looked back. A 12-4 run to close the first quarter put the lead at double-digits and the game stayed that way the rest of the way. Tech tied a school record with 13 three-point field goals, led by Irene Gari and Antonia Peresson, who each hit four. Defensively, the Jackets held the Spartans to single-digit scoring in the second and fourth quarters to pull away.

The Bulldogs, picked third in preseason SoCon polls, come into McCamish on a short turnaround after coming within 11 seconds of pulling off the upset of Indiana in Bloomington on Friday night, falling 65-56 in overtime. The loss was their third in four games but all three came on the road and by single digits. Forward Destiney Elliott scored a team- and career-high 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting (4-of-6 from three-point range) with nine rebounds, and guard Krista Stricklin added a 10-point, 10-rebound double-double. Samford used an 11-0 run to take a 20-14 lead out of the first quarter and led by as as much as 11 in the third quarter. IU closed the third on a 14-2 run to take its first lead since early in the game and extended the lead to four in the fourth but the Bulldogs went on a 7-1 run to grab a 54-52 lead. The Hoosiers would tie the game at the foul line and a final game-winning field goal attempt by guard Kassidy Blevins rimmed out forcing overtime. In the extra session, Indiana scored the first eight points to extinguish the upset bid. Samford held Indiana under 30 percent shooting (28.6) and to 12.5 percent from three (2-for-16), but was hurt on the boards, where the Hoosiers had a 47-34 overall edge and 19-6 on the offensive end. They also lost the turnover battle, committing 20 to IU’s 14 and were outscored 18-10 off miscues.

Sunday’s game will be the third meeting between the schools. Georgia Tech holds a 2-0 all-time series edge, with both games played in Atlanta. This will be the second meeting in the MaChelle Joseph Era and the first at McCamish Pavilion.

The game can be heard on WREK, 91.1 FM. Tech fans also can get up-to-the-minute stats on RamblinWreck.com and the GT Gameday App. and follow the team on Twitter and Instagram at @GTWBB.

And now, the Starting Five for Sunday’s game.

The Last Time We Met: Georgia Tech got career-games from guards Stephanie Higgs and Chioma Nnamaka and pulled away late to win, 64-52, on Dec. 21, 2004 at Alexander Memorial Coliseum. Higgs scored 30 points on 11-of-18 shooting, including 1-of-3 from three, and 7-of-9 from the foul line, while Nnamaka put in 21 points on 6-for-11, 3-for-6 from three and 6-for-6 from the line, as the duo nearly outscored the Bulldogs by themselves. Only four other Jackets scored, none more than four points. Tech led 32-29 at the break then twice went on runs when the game got to within one possession to keep Samford at bay. Nnamaka went on a solo 7-0 run, beginning with a steal with 8:11 remaining in the first half to snap a 17-17 tie and the Jackets led the rest of the way. The lead was cut to one midway through the second half but a Nnamaka jumper, then a steal leading to a Higgs layup, pushed the lead to five. The Bulldogs cut the lead to three but the duo would combine to score all 11 points in an 11-3 run that put the game away.

20/20(/20/20/20/20/20/20) Vision: Forward Aaliyah Whiteside came out with a vision for her senior season and that vision appears to be 20/20. Whiteside hit for 20 points in each of her first eight games — the streak finally ended last week against USC Upstate, when she went for 15. It was an unprecedented streak for Whiteside, who previously had only one two-game streak of 20-point games (Jan. 8, 2015 at Boston College she had 20 points, then three days later at No. 8/6 North Carolina, she put in 22). The eight-game stretch was one more 20-point game than Whiteside had over her first three seasons. Whiteside’s 20.9 ppg leads the ACC — a full bucket ahead of Duke sophomore forward/guard Azura Stevens — and ranks fourth in the conference in rebounding (8.1 rpg) and minutes played (33.7 mpg).

Tech Trivia: Whiteside currently leads the ACC in scoring. Should she finish that way she would become the second Georgia Tech player to lead the ACC in scoring. Who was the other?

A Perfect Less-than-10: Pressure defense has been a signature of Georgia Tech teams in the MaChelle Joseph Era. The toll that pressure takes on opposing offenses has become increasingly obvious with the new four-quarters format. The Yellow Jackets have held opponents to 10-or-fewer points in nine quarters in their nine games — at least one quarter in seven games — with the most common quarters for opponent offensive drought coming in the third and fourth (three times in each). The opponents’ lowest scoring quarter of the season was a four-point third by Southeastern Louisiana on Nov. 18, while Alabama State was held to 10 in the third and nine in the fourth on Nov. 24. Conversely, the Yellow Jackets have been held to 10-or-less one time, an eight-point second quarter against St. Francis Brooklyn on Nov. 15.

Bravissima, Antonia!: Antonia Peresson has stepped up to become one of Georgia Tech’s most dependable perimeter threats this season. The sophomore guard enters Sunday’s game tied for seventh in the ACC, making 2.3 three-point field goals per game. Her 20 three-point field goals lead the team and her 35.1 percent shooting (20-for-53) ranks second. That’s up more than 35 points from last season’s 30.2. Peresson has been more consistent with her shot, as she’s recorded six games with multiple three-pointers made — three fewer than she had all last season — and is riding a four-game streak of hitting multiple 3’s. That streak matches her career-high set last season (Feb. 26-March 3). In fact, starting with the first game of last season’s streak, Peresson has multiple 3PTFGMs in 10 of her last 14 games.

The Sixth Man: The Jackets’ 13 three-pointers against USC Upstate matched the program’s single-game record set on Nov. 10, 2013 against Western Carolina. Aaliyah Whiteside shot 3-for-5 from downtown that day and is the only current Jacket on that team…Grad student guard/forward Irene Gari has heated up since moving into the starting lineup against Indiana on Dec. 2. Gari’s averaged 14.0 ppg on 47.6 percent shooting (10-for-21) and has especially lit it up from three-point range, where she’s converted 60,0 percent (6-for-10). She’s also chipped in six assists and six steals. Her four three-pointers and five thefts against USC Upstate were both career highs…Trivia Answer: Dolores Bootz. The forward, a Georgia Tech Athletics Hall of Famer (Class of 1994), averaged 20.6 ppg in 1988…After not making a steal against Indiana, sophomore point Imani Tilford got back in the steals column against USC Upstate, making two — one of four Jackets with multiple steals. Tilford is tied for third in the ACC with 3.0 steals per game, has recorded multiple steals in seven of the team’s nine games and has at least one in eight of the nine…Freshman guard Ciani Cryor stepped up against USC Upstate in her first game coming off the bench. Cryor scored a career-high 12 points, on 5-for-10 shooting, canning a career-best two three-point field goals on three attempts. She matched her career-bests with the five FGMs, the most she’s made in seven games, and handed out four assists, her best in six games.

GEORGIA TECH SCORING LEADER: Aaliyah Whiteside, 20.9 ppg
SAMFORD SCORING LEADER: Destiney Elliott, 9.1 ppg


GEORGIA TECH REBOUNDING LEADER: Aaliyah Whiteside, 8.1 rpg
SAMFORD REBOUNDING LEADER: Destiney Elliott, 8.6 rpg


GEORGIA TECH ASSISTS LEADER: Aaliyah Whiteside, 3.3 apg
SAMFORD ASSISTS LEADER: Brittany Stevens, 2.8 apg

GEORGIA TECH PPG: 78.6 ppg
OPPONENT PPG: 60.7 ppg

SAMFORD PPG: 55.8 ppg
OPPONENT PPG: 48.7 ppg

SAMFORD Player To Watch: Destiney Elliott: The 6-0 sophomore forward has become Samford’s alpha dog. A SoCon All-Freshman last season, Elliott is the team’s leading scorer and rebounder this year and is on a roll. She just missed recording back-to-back double-doubles and her third in four games, going for 20 and 9 Friday night at Indiana after going for 13 and 18 in the loss at UT Martin. Of her 18 rebounds in the game against the Skyhawks 11 came on the defensive end, both tied school records dating back to 1998. Elliott’s led the team in rebounding in seven of the last eight games and in scoring in back-to-back games and three of the last five.

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