Dec. 30, 2002
ATLANTA – Behind a career-best 17 points from junior guard Alex Stewart, the Georgia Tech women’s basketball team overcame a poor-shooting performance and hung on for a 61-53 win over St. John’s in the first round of the Atlanta Marriott NW Holiday Invitational on Monday afternoon at Alexander Memorial Coliseum. With the win, the Yellow Jackets (10-1) have won a school-record nine-straight games and matched the best start in school history.
“I think this is a great win for us,” said Tech head coach Agnus Berenato. “The great thing about this team has been that in every game someone different has stepped up for us and today was no different. Alex (Stewart) did a great job despite having some foul trouble. She got to the free throw line and knocked down her shots. I think it’s the sign of a good team to be able to battle through tough games like this and still get a win.”
The Jackets held the lead throughout the contest, including a nine-point lead at 18-9 with 10:21 to play in the first half on a layup by rookie forward Jessica Williams. The Red Storm (5-5) then closed the margin to five at 19-14 with 8:25 remaining on a three by Danielle Rainey. Tech then took its largest lead of the half with an 8-0 run over the next 3:16 to take a 27-14 edge with 5:38 remaining. A pair of free throws by Stewart and another jumper by Rainey accounted for a 36-26 Tech lead at the intermission. Senior center Sonja Mallory led the Yellow Jackets in the half with eight points and seven rebounds, while Rainey had nine points for St. John’s. Tech was dominant on the boards in the half, holding a 32-10 advantage in rebounding, including 15 offensive caroms in the frame.
Tech looked to pull away in the contest at the start of the second half, scoring the first eight points of the period, six of which came from Stewart, to take a 44-26 lead with 17:58 to play in the game. The Jackets then held off any rally by the Red Storm, allowing St. John’s to only get as close as six points on a number of occasions in the second half. A jumper by the Red Storm’s Creasie Fowler put Tech’s lead at 59-53 with 16 seconds to play, but two free throws by Stewart with one second remaining ensured the final 61-53 margin for the Jackets.
Stewart led all scorers in the game with her 17 points to go along with four assists and six rebounds. She was also a perfect 10-for-10 from the free throw line, tying the school record for single-game free throw percentage. Mallory was the only other Tech player in double figures, finishing with her fourth double-double of the year with 12 points and 11 rebounds. Rookie forward Kasha Terry added eight points and a season-high 13 rebounds, while junior forward Fallon Stokes finished with eight points and seven rebounds.
The Yellow Jackets will face East Carolina (5-4) in the championship game of the Atlanta Marriott NW Holiday Invitational on Tuesday at 3 p.m., while St. John’s and Florida Atlantic (2-8) will meet in the consolation game at 1 p.m. The Pirates defeated the Owls by an 86-78 score in the second semifinal on Monday.