Feb. 10, 2014
By Jon Cooper
The Good Word
No one comes into a college program thinking they’re going to leave as that program’s leading scorer.
Someone as modest as Tyaunna Marshall certainly wouldn’t have made such a bold prediction. It wasn’t near the top of her priority list when she arrived in Atlanta.
“When I first came here, I was just a young freshman who wanted to play and just give it my all,” said Marshall, who heads into Thursday night’s game against Virginia at McCamish Pavilion with 1,980 points. “Former teammates are calling and wishing me congratulations. This means so much.”
Truth be told, Head Coach MaChelle Joseph, who recruited Marshall, wouldn’t have predicted Marshall to knock Kisha Ford off the throne she’d held as school scoring leader since her graduation in 1997.
“Actually, when I recruited Ty I recruited her more as a defensive player,” Joseph said. “I saw her in a game just steal the ball time after time after time and lay it in and I thought she fit our system perfectly because she had a defensive presence. I had no idea until her freshman year of what a great offensive threat she really was.”
Marshall scored 18 points in her first collegiate game, hitting on 8-of-15 shots — five more points and six more shots than the team’s star scorer Alex Montgomery, who, had it not been for knee injuries might have beaten Marshall to the punch and set the bar that Marshall would be chasing. Ty finished that year averaging 13.6 ppg., the lowest of her career. She’s raised her PPGs every year — 14.4 as a sophomore, and 18.1 last season, and this year should finish over 20.0. Marshall credits the caliber of players around her and the greats that came before her.
But Marshall’s truest inspiration has been to come through for her teammates. In fact, as she was sinking one of two free throws with 11 seconds remaining in the game on Feb. 6 at McCamish Pavilion against No. 13/11 North Carolina, and two more seven seconds later — her 30th, 31st and 32nd of the evening — she was thinking more of the points that beat the Tar Heels, 94-91, than the points that beat Ford, 1,956-1,955.
“I knew before the game how many points I needed but I tried not to focus on that during the game,” she said. “I just knew that that was like the eighth or ninth ranked team we played and I knew that we needed a big win. When I went up to the foul line for the last free throws, one of my teammates came up to me and said something to me like, `This is it.'”
“It was like a fairytale ending because she hit the free throw to break the record that actually won the game against North Carolina,” said Joseph. “When President Peterson was coming out to give her the game ball and said that she had broken the record, I can’t explain how excited I was for her because it couldn’t have happened to a better person, to a person that has had such a tremendous impact on our program. For her to have such a great ending to a great game and also break the record, I couldn’t have asked for it to happen in a more perfect way.”
Marshall felt it was perfect to get the record-setting points at McCamish.
“I wanted to get the school record at home in front of all our fans that have been here for my four years,” she said. “To get the win for my team was just unbelievable.”
Marshall went one better the next game, on Sunday at Miami, when she scored a team-high 24 points and led the team in rebounds (9), assists (3) and steals (7), sparking the Yellow Jackets, who crawled out of a nine-point hole inside of 7:00. She not only scored four straight points to pull Tech from down one to up three, but scored Tech’s final six points and made a steal to seal the 89-87 win, Tech’s third straight.
That one-woman show was enough to earn her national recognition, courtesy of ESPN, which named her its espnW Player of the Week.
“It just means a lot to be recognized,” she said. “I play for my team and to win games and to be recognized for the hard work that I’ve put in means a lot.”
Joseph welcomed Marshall’s time in the national spotlight and hopes her time there isn’t done.
“We’ve never had a player named National Player of the Week,” she said. “I think Ty Marshall deserves to be named an All-American at the end of the season. We all know that to make that happen we have to win games and get this program into the NCAA Tournament, give her a chance to compete on a national level. That award goes a long way, putting her out front nationally.”
Georgia Tech also has never had a player score 2,000 points — it’s something accomplished by only 22 women in ACC history — Ty is right there.
“Getting 2,000 points hasn’t been done a lot in ACC history,” said Marshall, who is averaging 23.0 ppg in ACC play — 2.5 more than anyone else. “So it means a lot.”
With five regular season games left before the ACC Tournament and, ideally, an NCAA Tournament berth, Marshall is out to put a final exclamation point on her career.
Then she can reflect on her records, having passed on the leadership torch to — and raising the bar quite high for — freshman Kaela Davis, Marshall’s protégé, who she also sees as the biggest threat to her record.
“I’m sure Kaela is after me,” she said. “So I’m trying to make it hard for her.
“I haven’t said it to her,” she added. “But when the season is over I’m sure it will be a joke we’ll laugh about it.”
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