Women's Basketball WNIT Preview

Georgia Tech (14-14) at Mississippi State (15-13)
Women’s National Invitation Tournament
March 15, 2001 * 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time
Starkville, Miss. * Humprhey Coliseum (10,500)

Listento the game

The Opening Tip
Georgia Tech (14-14) is making its second-straight appearance in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament with a game at Mississippi State on Thursday. The Yellow Jackets, who won the WNIT in 1992, are 5-1 all-time in the tournament. They face Mississippi State (15-13) for the second time this year. The Bulldogs are 1-3 in three previous WNIT appearances.

From the Locker Room
Four Yellow Jackets are averaging in double figures in scoring, led by sophomore Niesha Butler’s 15.6 points per game. Butler, who tallied 14 points, five assists and four steals against North Carolina in the ACC Tournament, is second on the team with 53 steals. She has scored in double figures in 24 games this season and has led Tech in scoring in 12 contests. She is sixth in the ACC in scoring and steals. Junior Milli Martinez is second on the squad in scoring (13.0 ppg) and rebounding (7.0 rpg). She is second on the team with an .790 free throw percentage and leads the squad with 57 steals, ranking her fifth in the ACC. Martinez led Tech in the ACC Tournament, posting a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds against the Tar Heels. Senior Jaime Kruppa, last year*s leading scorer and rebounder, is averaging 12.0 points and a team-high 7.4 rebounds per game. She posted two double-doubles in the last three games of the regular season and scored 12 points against UNC in the ACC Tournament. Sophomore Sonja Mallory is averaging 10.2 points and 6.7 rebounds per contest. She has started the last 22 games after starting the season as a reserve. Sophomore Nina Bärlin has started all but three games at point guard during her career and has a 6.0 scoring average, 2.4 rebounding average and 3.2 assists average. She is second on the team with 79 assists and is eighth in the ACC in assist/turnover ratio. Sophomore Alex Stewart is one of just two Tech players to have seen action in every game this year. She recorded just the second triple-double in school history on Jan. 30 with an 11-point, 10-rebound, 11-assist effort. She leads the team with 86 assists and is third with 45 steals. Stewart is averaging 8.0 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.2 assists per contest. Freshman Fallon Stokes has started the last seven games. She is averaging 4.0 points and 3.3 rebounds per contest. Sophomore Tamika Boatner is averaging 6.2 points and 4.3 rebounds per game off the bench.

Alex Stewart

Scouting the Bulldogs
Mississippi State is 15-13 overall and has won three of its last four games. Sophomore LaToya Thomas earned first-team All-America honors by the Women*s Basketball Journal and was named to the All-SEC first team for the second-straight year. She is averaging 24.1 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. She also has 36 assists, 36 steals and a team-high 32 blocked shots. Junior Jennifer Fambrough is averaging 14.4 points and 5.5 rebounds per contest. Senior Meadow Overstreet is third on the team with 7.4 points per game and second with 93 assists. Senior Cynthia Hall is averaging 7.1 points per game and has a team-high 98 assists. Head coach Sharon Fanning, the 2000 Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year, owns a 94-77 record in six years at Mississippi State.

The Series with Mississippi State
Mississippi State leads the all-time series 2-0 after defeating the Yellow Jackets, 88-68, in Starkville on Dec. 3. Milli Martinez led the Yellow Jackets in that contest with 16 points and seven rebounds while Sonja Mallory saw her first action of the year with 15 points and seven rebounds. Jennifer Fambrough led the Bulldogs offensively with 32 points and LaToya Thomas grabbed a game-high 15 rebounds in helping MSU control the boards. Last year, Mississippi State defeated Georgia Tech 71-56 in Atlanta.

Head Coach Agnus Berenato
In her 13th season as head coach at Georgia Tech, Agnus Berenato owns a 188-183(.507) record. Under Berenato’s guidance, the Yellow Jackets have advanced to the NCAA Tournament once and the WNIT three times, including this year. Berenato was named the 2000 GAHPERD College Coach of the Year and was named to “Who’s Who in America” by Marquis Who’s Who in 1999. Berenato was named the 1992 State of Georgia Division I Coach of the Year by the Atlanta Tip-off Club after leading the Yellow Jackets to the NWIT title. A 1980 graduate of Mount St. Mary’s, Berenato received an honorary doctorate in Humane Letters from her alma mater in 1995. She also became the first alumnus to return to her school as a commencement speaker. Berenato became Georgia Tech*s head coach in 1988 after spending two years as an assistant coach of the Jackets.

Jaime Kruppa

The Last Time Out
Led by senior LaQuanda Barksdale, the seventh-seeded North Carolina Tar Heels defeated the eighth-seeded Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, 79-64, in the first round of the Atlantic Coast Conference Women’s Basketball Tournament March 2 in Greensboro, N.C. Barksdale scored 25 points and pulled down 10 rebounds to lead the Tar Heels. Juana Brown added 17 points and nine rebounds for UNC, which advanced to a Saturday matchup with second seed Clemson. Georgia Tech and Carolina battled through an even first half, trading leads seven times before intermission. The Yellow Jackets led by as many as five in the first stanza, but entered the lockerroom trailing, 39-35. The Tar Heels expanded their lead to 11 early in the second half and then held the Yellow Jackets scoreless for a five-minute stretch, increasing their lead to 66-43 with 8:37 remaining. Despite an 18-point, 10-rebound effort by junior Milli Martinez, the Yellow Jackets were unable to keep pace with the Tar Heels. Sophomore Niesha Butler added 14 points, five assists and four steals and senior Jaime Kruppa recorded 12 points and seven rebounds.

Yellow Jackets in the WNIT
Georgia Tech is making its second-straight WNIT appearance and its third in school history. Last year the Yellow Jackets advanced to the quarterfinals of the WNIT by defeating Southern Mississippi and Chattanooga before falling to Arkansas. Georgia Tech is 5-1 all-time in the WNIT, claiming the WNIT championship in 1992 in Tech*s first postseason appearance. The Yellow Jackets defeated Wisconsin-Green Bay and Nebraska to reach the championship game, where Tech defeated Hawaii, 90-72, to claim the title.

Butler Needs Six Points to Join 1,000 Point Club
With 994 career points, sophomore Niesha Butler needs just six points to become only the second player in program history to reach the 1,000 point mark in her second full season. Karen Lounsbury became the first Tech player to accomplish the feat when she did so in 1990. Joyce Pierce joined Lounsbury in this elite club two years later. Butler entered the 2000-01 season with 574 career points and has scored a team-high 420 points this year.

The Magic Number: 70
Georgia Tech’s magic number during the 2000-01 season has been 70. The Yellow Jackets are 13-2 when scoring at least 70 points this season and 1-12 when scoring fewer than 70. The Jackets’ 66-62 win over Maryland on Feb. 22 was their first this season when scoring fewer than 70 points. Tech is 8-3 when holding opponents under 70.

Mallory Leads ACC in Blocked Shots
With 41 blocked shots, sophomore Sonja Mallory leads the Atlantic Coast Conference. Her 1.64 blocked shots per game rank her just ahead of North Carolina freshman Candace Sutton, who averaged 1.43 blocks per contest.

Kruppa Finishes Regular-Season Play in Style
Jaime Kruppa finished the last week of regular-season play in her career in style and earned All-ACC honorable mention by the Atlantic Coast Sports Writers Association. The senior from Lithonia, Ga., recorded two double-doubles in the last week of the season and tied for the team-high in scoring in her regular-season finale. On Feb. 19, Kruppa posted a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds at Clemson on Feb. 19 and another one with 16 points and 10 rebounds at Maryland on Feb. 22. On Feb. 25, Kruppa scored 16 points to help lead the Yellow Jackets to victory on Senior Day. She followed that with 12 points against North Carolina in the ACC Tournament.

Butler Earns All-ACC Honors
Sophomore Niesha Butler was named a third-team All-ACC selection by the Atlantic Coast Sports Writers Association on Feb. 27. The 5-8 guard leads Georgia Tech and is sixth in the ACC with 15.6 points per game. She is second on the squad and sixth in the conference with 53 steals. Butler, who missed most of last season with a torn ACL returned to the form that made her the 1999 ACC Rookie of the Year. She has scored in double figures 24 times and had 20 or more points seven times. She needs six points to become just the third player in program history to score 1,000 points in just her second full year. Milli Martinez and Jaime Kruppa earned honorable mention All-ACC honors.

Martinez Keeps Jackets Buzzing
Junior Milli Martinez has been a reliable fixture in the Yellow Jacket lineup this season. She earned All-ACC honorable mention accolades on Feb. 27 by the Atlantic Coast Sports Writers Association. She leads the team in steals (57), is second in rebounds (7.0 rpg), scoring (13.0 ppg) and free throw percentage (.790) and fourth in assists (68). She has scored in double figures in 22 games. Martinez has posted six double-doubles and led Tech with 18 points and 10 rebounds against UNC on March 2 in the ACC Tournament. She led Tech in rebounding nine times and assists five times. She scored 20 points against Virginia on Feb. 8, the fourth time this season she has reached that mark. On Jan. 2 against North Carolina, Martinez tied her season high with 21 points and equaled her career high with seven assists. She also grabbed 10 rebounds and had just one turnover as she helped lead the Yellow Jackets to their first victory in Chapel Hill since 1991.

Super Sophomores Show Strength
The Georgia Tech sophomore class is the foundation of the Yellow Jacket squad this season. The Yellow Jacket quintet is accounting for 59 percent of the team’s scoring, 63 percent of the assists and 57 percent of the minutes played. Sophomore Niesha Butler leads the team in scoring (15.6 ppg); sophomore Alex Stewart leads the team with 90 assists. Sophomore Sonja Mallory leads the Yellow Jackets in blocked shots (41) and field goal percentage (.531). All five sophomores — Butler, Stewart, Mallory, Nina Bärlin and Tamika Boatner — have started at least three games and are averaging at least 19 minutes of action per contest. The 80 starts by Tech sophomores are the most in the ACC, 28 more than any other school*s sophomore class.

Mallory Movin’ On Up Career Blocked Shots List
Sonja Mallory has emerged as a powerful force under the basket. She leads the ACC with 1.64 blocked shots per game and with 58 career blocked shots in just two seasons, she is already ninth in Tech*s career records book. She passed Lara Kauffman, who had 57 from 1989-93, with two blocked shots against North Carolina in the ACC Tournament and needs three to move into an eighth-place tie with Kirsten Weinert (1983-86). Mallory is averaging 10.2 points and 6.7 rebounds per game and ranks among conference leaders in both categories. She has scored in double figures 11 times and has posted four double-doubles. Mallory has blocked three or more shots in seven games, including three of the last five.

Niesha Butler

Tech Atop ACC in Rebounding Margin, Offensive Rebounds
With a plus-5.2 rebounding margin, Georgia Tech ranks first in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Yellow Jackets have out-rebounded opponents in 18 games this year, and are 13-5 in those contests. Tech is 1-8 when being out-rebounded. The Ramblin’ Wreck has twice set school records for rebounding margin this season. The Yellow Jackets established a new school record with a plus-33 rebounding margin at Wagner on Dec. 19. Then 10 days later Tech out-rebounded St. Francis (Pa.), 60-24. Tech is also atop the ACC in offensive rebounds per game with 16.62 per contest.

Stewart Sparks Tech
Sophomore Alex Stewart, Tech’s first player off the bench, has provided a spark for the Yellow Jackets this season. She leads Tech with an .800 free throw percentage and 90 assists and is third with 48 steals. Stewart is averaging 7.9 points per game and is the Ramblin’ Wreck’s best player at penetrating opposing defenses. Although she generally does not start (she has four starts this season), Stewart has played more minutes than all but three players on the team. A team captain and Tech*s representative on the Student-Athlete Advisory Board, Stewart led the Yellow Jackets to victory over Charleston Southern on Jan. 30 with her first career triple-double. The 5-5 guard recorded 11 points, 10 rebounds and a career-high 11 assists in 26 minutes of action off the bench.

Stokes Shines in Starting Role
Freshman Fallon Stokes stepped into a starting job Feb. 8 and immediately made her presence known. The 5-10 forward scored eight points and established a new career high with 11 rebounds against Virginia. She grabbed two huge offensive rebounds off of missed free throws and sank two free throws in the final minute to help the Yellow Jackets preserve their first-ever victory in Charlottesville. She has started the last seven games, averaging 5.4 points and 5.4 rebounds per contest. Stokes also excelled in her first career start, setting a career high with 12 points against Charleston Southern on Jan. 30.

Yellow Jackets Travel Tough Road in 2000-01
Georgia Tech’s 2000-01 schedule featured seven teams that advanced to the NCAA Tournament, including West Region No. 1 seed Duke and East Region No. 2 seed Georgia. North Carolina State earned a No. 4 seed in the East. Clemson is a No. 5 seed in the Mideast. Florida State earned a No. 7 seed in the Midwest Region. Maryland received a No. 8 seed in the East. Virginia earned a No. 9 seed in the Midwest. Mississippi State, Tech’s opponent in the first round of the WNIT, is the Yellow Jackets’ lone 2000-01 opponent to receive a bid to the WNIT. The Ramblin’ Wreck recorded a 3-10 record against teams that advanced to postseason play this year. Four of Georgia Tech’s opponents — Georgia, Duke, NC State and Clemson — are ranked in this week’s Top 25.

Stewart Dazzles with Triple-Double
With 11 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists against Charleston Southern on Jan. 30, sophomore Alex Stewart recorded the first triple-double of her career. With 10 assists, 10 rebounds and nine points already, the 5-5 guard scored on a layup with 3:44 remaining to accomplish the rare feat. Stewart is the first player in ACC history to record a triple-double off the bench. She joins former Yellow Jacket standout Kisha Ford (33 points, 13 rebounds, 10 assists on Feb. 13, 1995) as just the second Tech player to tally a triple-double.

Pacariz Scores Career-High Nine Points at Clemson
With three three-point field goals, freshman Jasmina Pacariz scored a career-high nine points against Clemson on Feb. 19. The 6-1 guard sank three treys in the final three minutes of action to help the Yellow Jackets break out of a scoring slump. She finished the game three-for-five from behind the arc, scoring nine of Tech’s final 11 points. She also recorded one blocked shot against the Lady Tigers.

Tech Sets Season Low with 7 Turnovers against NC State
The Yellow Jackets established a new season low with just seven turnovers against NC State on Feb. 15. The mark, just one more than the school record, is the fewest for the Jackets since Dec. 29, 1999, when Tech had seven turnovers against Western Michigan.

Jackets Earn First-Ever Win in Charlottesville
Georgia Tech snapped a six-game conference losing streak with its 87-70 win over Virginia in Charlottesville on Feb. 8. The win, Tech*s first in 21 attempts in Charlottesville, gave the Yellow Jackets their first series sweep of the Cavaliers. Georgia Tech defeated UVA 70-65 in Atlanta on Jan. 7.

Dishin’ the Rock
The Yellow Jackets, led by Alex Stewart’s 11 assists, recorded a season-high 23 assists against Charleston Southern on Jan. 30. The last time Tech recorded at least 23 assists in a game was on Dec. 29, 1999, when the Jackets had 23 against Western Michigan.

Yellow Jackets Among ACC Leaders
The Yellow Jackets are well-represented on the ACC Leader Board. Niesha Butler is sixth in the conference with 15.6 points per game, sixth with 1.96 steals per contest and ninth with a .725 free throw percentage. Milli Martinez is seventh with 7.0 rebounds per game, second in the conference with 3.46 offensive rebounds per contest and fifth with 2.04 steals per game. Jaime Kruppa ranks fifth in the conference with 7.4 rebounds per game and 5.07 defensive rebounds per contest and is sixth with a .758 free throw percentage. Nina Bärlin is eighth in assist/turnover ratio (1.16). Sonja Mallory leads the ACC with 1.64 blocked shots per game, is eighth with 6.7 rebounds per contest and seventh with 2.64 offensive rebounds per game. Alex Stewart is fifth in the conference in assist/turnover ratio (1.27) and 10th with 3.21 assists per game. As a team, Georgia Tech leads the ACC with a plus-5.2 rebounding margin and 16.57 offensive rebounds per game. Tech is second in the ACC in rebounding offense (41.4 pg).

Kruppa Tackles Nation’s Elite
Jaime Kruppa scored a career-high 28 points and pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds to lead Georgia Tech against fifth-ranked Duke on Jan. 11. In two games against top-five teams this season, Kruppa is averaging 25 points, 10 rebounds and 1.5 blocked shots.

Butler Named ACC Player of the Week
After leading Georgia Tech to victories over North Carolina and Virginia, Niesha Butler was named the ACC Women’s Basketball Player of the Week on Jan. 8 by conference media. Butler, a 5-8 guard who garnered seven ACC Rookie of the Week awards as a freshman in 1998-99, was the first Georgia Tech player to be named ACC Player of the Week since Kenya Williams on Nov. 23, 1998. Butler averaged 19.3 points per game as the Yellow Jackets faced league foes North Carolina, Florida State and Virginia and finished 2-1 on the week. The New York, N.Y., native finished the week 25-52 from the floor (.442), including 4-9 from behind the three-point arc, and 8-11 from the free throw line. She scored a game-high 25 points in Georgia Tech’s 82-75 victory over UNC, the first win for Tech in Carmichael Auditorium since 1991. In the Jackets’ victory over No. 25 Virginia, Butler tallied 22 points to lead Georgia Tech to its first victory over the Cavaliers since 1997. Butler has scored in double figures in 21 games this season and has reached the 20-point mark seven times.

Tech Knocks Off Tar Heels, Cavaliers
Georgia Tech knocked off North Carolina and Virginia Jan. 2 and Jan. 7, the first time the Yellow Jackets have defeated the Tar Heels and the Cavaliers in the same year since 1988-89, head coach Agnus Berenato’s first year at the helm of the program. Tech defeated North Carolina 82-75 on Jan. 2, the Ramblin’ Wreck’s first win in Chapel Hill since 1991. Then just five days later, Tech handed No. 25 Virginia its first conference loss of the season, 70-65. On Feb. 8, the Yellow Jackets once again toppled Virginia, earning their first-ever win in Charlottesville, 87-70.

Mallory Earns MVP Honors With Career Tournament
Sophomore Sonja Mallory claimed MVP honors at the Georgia Tech/Atlanta Marriott Northwest Holiday Invitational Dec. 30 after averaging 23 points and 8.5 rebounds per game against St. Francis (Pa.) and Fresno State. She scored a career-high 21 points against the Red Flash on Dec. 29 and then bettered that mark with a 25 points against the Bulldogs on Dec. 30, making 11 of her 13 free throw attempts against Fresno State. Mallory joins sophomore Tamika Boatner as Tech centers to earn tournament MVP honors this season.

Four Jackets Earn All-Tournament Honors at Holiday Inv.
Sonja Mallory earned MVP honors at the Georgia Tech/Atlanta Marriott Northwest Holiday Invitational and was joined on the all-tournament team by teammates Jaime Kruppa, Milli Martinez and Niesha Butler. Lindsay Logan of Fresno State and Carla Chesick of St. Francis (Pa.) also were named to the all-tournament team.

Tech Totals 18 Steals Against Georgia State
Georgia Tech tallied 18 steals against Georgia State on Nov. 29. Every player who saw action grabbed at least one steal, and Jaime Kruppa, Niesha Butler and Milli Martinez had four apiece. The 18 steals were the most by the Yellow Jackets since Nov. 23, 1999, when Tech stole 24 from Georgia State.

Boatner Claims MVP Honors
Sophomore Tamika Boatner was named Most Valuable Player of the Atlanta Marriott Northwest Classic after averaging 15.5 points and 10.0 rebounds per game. She posted a double-double with 15 points and 14 rebounds in her first career start on Nov. 24, setting new personal bests in both categories. She then scored 16 points and set a career best with two blocked shots against Mount St. Mary*s on Nov. 25.

Three Yellow Jackets Named to All-Tournament Team
Junior Milli Martinez and redshirt sophomore Niesha Butler joined Tamika Boatner on the Atlanta Marriott Northwest Classic All-Tournament team Nov. 24-25. Butler scored a game-high 20 points against Cornell and followed that performance with 12 points against Mount St. Mary’s. Martinez posted a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds against the Mountaineers after recording 11 points and eight rebounds against Cornell.

Bärlin Selected One of Atlanta’s Most Beautiful People
Tech guard Nina Bärlin was chosen as one of Atlanta’s 50 Most Beautiful People by Jezebel Magazine. She was featured in the November issue, along with celebrities such as Julia Roberts, Kenny Rogers, Michael Stipe, Dikembe Mutombo and Miss Georgia Patti Dunn.

Injury Report
Senior forward Regina Tate had surgery on Jan. 19 to repair a severe stress fracture in her left shin and will redshirt this season. Tate scored 6.7 points per game last season and was second on the squad with 6.8 rebounds per contest.

RELATED HEADLINES

Women’s Basketball WNIT Preview
December 6, 2018 Podcast: From The Flats (Episode 13)

Host Wiley Ballard and special guests discuss the latest in Georgia Tech athletics

Women’s Basketball WNIT Preview
December 5, 2018 Jackets Run Past Alabama State, 69-42

Georgia Tech women’s basketball’s improves to 7-2 on the season