Jan. 10, 2002
ATLANTA — Led by junior point guard Nina B?rlin’s school-record 17 assists, the Georgia Tech women’s basketball team turned in its top team performance of the year and rolled to its third-straight win over Virginia by a 91-62 score on Thursday night at Alexander Memorial Coliseum.
“I think it was very important for us to get a win at home tonight,” said Tech head coach Agnus Berenato. “We earned a split on the road last week and that wasn’t bad, but we felt we could have won both games up in North Carolina. We had a great game plan tonight and I felt we had a good chance to win this game if we followed that plan. The players really stepped up and executed for us tonight.”
The Yellow Jackets (8-6, 2-3 ACC) jumped all over the Cavaliers (8-7, 1-3 ACC) from the opening tip and took control of the game early, building a 16-point lead at 30-14 just midway through the first half. Tech’s defensive pressure forced Virginia into seven turnovers in the span and led to eight Jacket points to aid the run. B?rlin also helped spark the spurt as she had eight assists in the opening run alone.
Tech senior forward Regina Tate re-found her scoring stride against Virginia, as she hit for 14 points in the first half on 7-of-10 shooting to lead all scorers in the frame. The Jackets were firing on all cylinders in the first half, as Tech was 19-of-31 from the field for a 61.3 shooting percentage, included in which was a perfect 3-for-3 performance from behind the three point arc. Led by the play of B?rlin, who added eight points to her nine first-half assists, and Tate, the Jackets held a 47-26 advantage at the intermission.
“I knew coming into the game that we had to stop Virginia’s transition offense to have a chance to win and the key was to not let Telisha Quarles get going and we did that tonight,” said Berenato. “At the half I told the team that we had the right people taking shots for Virginia and I thought that our game plan worked right from the opening tip.”
The second half brought much of the same for the Jackets, as sophomores Fallon Stokes and Megan Isom got in on the hot-shooting act, both working their way to career-best scoring nights in the process. Virginia cut the Tech advantage to 16 at 56-40 with 15:21 remaining on the strength of a three- pointer by Anna Prillaman, but the Jackets pulled away again with a 10-2 run to take a 66-42 lead at the 12:30 mark. A pair of threes from Isom keyed that spurt for Tech that essentially put the game away. Late in the contest, the Jackets staged a 22-9 run that gave Tech its largest lead at 92-58, before the final 92-61 score.
Tate led all scorers in the contest with her 23-point outing, which marked the first game in double figures for the senior since Tech’s win at Georgia State on December 18. She was followed in the point column by Stokes, who netted 16 points and B?rlin, who added 15 points to her 17 assists for her third double-double of the year. Isom’s career-best night included 14 points and eight rebounds, along with a 4-for-6 performance from behind the three-point line.
“I’m really happy for Nina,” said Berenato. “She’s been playing well for us this year and she really could have had more assists if we had made some more of our shots. I think that she played a great game defensively as well tonight, which was big for us.”
For B?rlin, her 17 assists not only broke the school record of 16 held by Anita Malone against North Carolina in 1986, but also tied the most assists ever by a player in an ACC game. The mark matched Drema Greer of Clemson and Debbie Lytle of Maryland, both of whom also recorded 17 in 1979 and 1980 respectively. As a team, Tech’s 33 assists tied the school record for single game assists by a team, matching the effort of the 1986 Jacket team against NC State.
“I’m just very excited to break the assist record tonight,” said Nina B?rlin. “I always was a scorer when I played back in Sweden, but when I came here, I wasn’t the best scorer on the team so I had to find something else to do to help the team. This year it’s all been working for me with the assists and I think that Regina Tate really helped me tonight by making shots early in the game. I really went after it when I knew that I was close to the record because it was something that I wanted to get.”
Freshman Brandi Teamer led the Cavaliers in the game, as she netted 22 points and pulled down 10 rebounds. Anna Crosswhite who had 10 points in the contest joined Teamer in double figures.
The Yellow Jackets will return to action in ACC play on Monday, January 14, when they host Maryland in a game that will be televised regionally on the ACC network, which includes Fox Sports Net South and the Sunshine Network.