Dec. 30, 2014
By Matt Winkeljohn
The Good Word
In the end, Georgia Tech’s score line against Lipscomb went about the way one might have expected, as the women’s squad eased past the Lady Bisons 71-53. Monday was not a standard day at McCamish Pavilion, however, as the Yellow Jackets were double and then triple short-staffed.
Kaela Davis scored 28 points while making 6-of-13 3-point shots, and Sydney Wallace’s 10 points made her the 27th player in program history to score 1,000 or more points as Tech (9-4) won its fourth straight game.
Usually, this would be a good spot to go into Wallace, the senior two-way guard who’s been quite the sharpshooter for the Jackets.
Wallace injured her left knee shortly after scoring her 1,000th and 1001st collegiate points late in the first half, however, and the Jackets went the rest of the way without three starters.
Freshman point guard Antonia Peresson was out, and will miss today’s championship game against Louisiana Tech in the Georgia Tech Holiday Tournament. She returned to her native Italy to tend to a family matter.
Fellow freshman guard/forward Zaire O’Neal did not play against the Bison (4-8), either. She was held out of the game with concussion symptoms. She may return Tuesday.
Davis did her thing, but with Peresson overseas and Wallace unavailable for the second half as details about her knee are pending, another freshman stepped into the void.
Imani Tilford had played a total of 34 minutes in six of the Jackets’ first 12 games. Monday, she went for 30 minutes to nearly match all of her previous playing time.
Never mind that she didn’t score and missed her only shot; the Jackets have other options for that kind of work.
The 5-foot-5 guard from Greenburgh, N.Y., banked team highs of six assists and three steals while adding three rebounds.
“I thought that Imani Tilford, who hasn’t played that much all year, did a great job for us,” said head coach MaChelle Joseph. “She came in and ran her team. She was a great defender, and disruptive the whole 30 minutes. It’s a credit to her that she was ready when her opportunity came.”
Tilford has made adjustments in college.
She owns the all-time scoring record at Woodlands High School, and as a junior averaged 25.3 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.8 assists. With a slew of MVP awards and accolades, she arrived on The Flats accustomed to playing a lot.
Then, to not play in six of Tech’s first 12 games, and play sparingly in the other half dozen was tough.
“It definitely has because when I was in high school I played all the time so it was hard coming in and watching, but I had to do for my team,” she said in a post-game interview on WREK. “When my opportunity came, I did what I had to do.”
O’Neal may play Tuesday, yet Tilford is likely to play big minutes again anyway as Peresson will not be available, and the health of Wallace is to be determined.
If she has to play big time again, that will be fine.
“It was a bit challenging because I’m not used to it,” Tilford said. “I was kind of winded, but I had to push through for my teammates.”