March 23, 2009
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) – Georgia Tech’s quickness and athleticism was more than enough to overcome Iowa’s home-court advantage.
Jacqua Williams scored 23 points and 6-foot-5 freshman Sasha Goodlett came up big in her NCAA tournament debut with 16 points and 13 rebounds, leading Georgia Tech to a 76-62 first-round victory over Iowa on Sunday night.
The ninth-seeded Yellow Jackets (22-9) harassed the Hawkeyes with their all-out defensive pressure, consistently beat them to rebounds and moved on to a second-round game Tuesday night against top-seeded Oklahoma, a 76-47 winner over Prairie View.
“I felt like as a team we came in with the mindset we were going to outrebound Iowa,” said Goodlett, who grabbed six of her rebounds on the offensive end. “We knew every rebound had to be ours in order to win the game.”
Leading 36-35 early in the second half, Georgia Tech hit the Hawkeyes with a 14-2 run and was in control the rest of the way.
Kachine Alexander’s 17 points and 10 rebounds led Iowa (21-11), which lost in the first round for the fourth straight time.
The Yellow Jackets advanced despite playing without leading scorer and rebounder Alex Montgomery, who was left at home with a knee injury. However, she might be available if Georgia Tech makes it to the Oklahoma City Regional next weekend.
Georgia Tech was pretty good even without her, outrebounding Iowa 43-30 and forcing 17 turnovers, which led to 21 points. The Yellow Jackets also got numerous close-in shots by forcing turnovers for breakaways, beating the Hawkeyes off the dribble and crashing the boards for offensive rebounds.
That led to a huge edge for Georgia Tech in points in the paint (46-12) and second-chance points (18-3). Goodlett was a big factor in those categories. She came in averaging 5.9 points, but used her size to muscle inside for rebounds, putbacks and layups.
“One of the things we talked about coming into this game was to earn some respect for our program,” Georgia Tech coach MaChelle Joseph said. “We thought we had played to a better seed. We showed we’re bigger than one player. I think we’ve proven we belong in this tournament and we’re going to be successful.”
Georgia Tech’s defense forced Iowa to the perimeter and the Hawkeyes, who led the Big Ten in 3-point shooting percentage, couldn’t get enough of their long shots to go down to counter the Yellow Jackets’ inside scoring.
Iowa, losing at home for only the second time this season, was 6-for-15 from 3-point range and shot 42.6 percent overall, finishing with 20 fewer shots than the Yellow Jackets.
Williams capped Georgia Tech’s game-breaking run with a steal and layup that made it 50-37 with 15:32 left. Just before that, Hemingway scored on a spinning drive, much to the delight of the tiny but hardy TECH gathering in the crowd of 5,615.
When Williams made a falling down 3-pointer a couple of minutes later, Georgia Tech led 55-42 and the super-quick Williams, a two-time qualifier at the NCAA track meet in the 200 meters, celebrated by pumping her arms.
Hemingway’s jumper made it 57-42 and prompted a fist pump from Williams. The Hawkeyes were never a threat after that as Georgia Tech led by double digits the rest of the way.
“We’re quick and we have to use some of our athleticism and quickness to get to the basket,” Williams said. “Our posts were setting great screens and we just took advantage of it.”
This was the second straight year Georgia Tech played in the NCAA tournament in Iowa and the Yellow Jackets got a far better result this time. They lost to Iowa State 58-55 in the first round in Des Moines last year.
Iowa led 12-8 early, hitting five of its first seven shots, but Georgia Tech put together a 17-2 run in which six different players scored to go up 25-14. The Yellow Jackets never gave up the lead after that.
Kamille Wahlin added 14 points for Iowa and Wendy Ausdemore scored 12.
“It all started with their press,” Iowa’s Kristi Smith said. “We would break it, but we would be in a panic almost. When we got in the quarter court, we weren’t running our offense quite right. I felt like we were forcing up some shots. We were in too much of a panic.”