ATLANTA (Mar. 13) — Georgia Tech will make its third postseason appearance in school history when the Yellow Jackets host Southern Mississippi in the first round of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament at 7 p.m. Thursday at Alexander Memorial Coliseum.
The winner will advance to the second round to meet the winner of Thursday’s game between Alabama and Chattanooga on Friday, Saturday or Sunday at a site to be determined.
“I’m ecstatic,” said Tech head coach Agnus Berenato. “After losing our center and point guard at the start of the season, I’m proud of this team to come together and earn a postseason bid. I’m happy for my team, my staff and for Georgia Tech.
“Our goal at the beginning of the year was to go to the NCAA, but with everything that has happened, we are appreciative and thankful for this opportunity to play in the postseason. This is a small step for us, but it’s a big step for the future of the program.”
The Yellow Jackets overcame the losses of 6-foot-4 sophomore Aisha Howard (Washington, D.C.) and 1999 Atlantic Coast Conference Rookie of the Year Niesha Butler (New York, N.Y.) to post a 15-13 overall record and a 7-9 mark in the ACC. Tech finished sixth in the ACC during the regular season and advanced to the semifinals of the ACC Tournament for the first time since 1992.
Howard, the tallest player on Tech’s roster, learned before the season she would have to miss the entire 1999-2000 campaign due to a knee injury suffered in January of last year. Butler missed all but four games this year after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in her left knee early in Tech’s game with NC State on Nov. 30.
Southern Mississippi finished 17-12 overall and finished tied fourth in Conference USA with a 10-6 league mark. The Lady Eagles are led by senior guard Angela Atterberry, who averages 16.9 points and 7.8 rebounds per game.
“Southern Miss is a good team, and we will have our hands full,” Berenato said. “They have played a competitive schedule and are very well respected. They do a good job in transition both offensively and defensively. I think this will make for a great game.”
With its WNIT bid, Georgia Tech making its third postseason appearance in school history and its first since 1993. The Yellow Jackets have been to the WNIT in 1992 and the NCAA Tournament in 1993. Tech won the WNIT in its only other appearance in the event. The Yellow Jackets defeated Wisconsin Green-Bay and Nebraska to reach the championship game where Tech defeated Hawaii, 90-72, to claim the title.
The Jackets are led by senior Danielle Donehew (Canton, Ga.) and junior Jaime Kruppa (Lithonia, Ga.). Donehew and Kruppa both garnered honorable mention all-ACC honors and have been the leaders of a young Tech squad that has eight freshmen or sophomores on its active roster.
Berenato said it’s important for her young club to keep playing, especially in the postseason.
“Our team enjoys playing together,” Berenato said. “It’s important that we keep playing to develop chemistry and to build for the future. We want to play as long as we can.”
Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for children age 16 or under. They can be purchased from the Tech ticket office in advance (1-888-TECH TIX) or at the gate Thursday, March 16.
Series with Southern Mississippi
Thursday night’s meeting between Georgia Tech and Southern Mississippi will be the first between the two schools in women’s basketball.
Southern Mississippi will be just the fourth team the Yellow Jackets have ever played from Conference USA. Tech is 10-1 all-time against current members of Conference USA, with a 5-0 mark against South Florida, a 2-0 record against Tulane and a 3-1 record against Alabama-Birmingham.
Georgia Tech and Southern Mississippi have two common opponents this season in NC State and Mississippi State. The Lady Eagles were 0-2 against those teams, opening their season with a 78-43 loss to NC State and losing to Mississippi State, 82-61. The Yellow Jackets went a combined 2-2 against NC State and Mississippi State. The Jackets lost their first meeting with NC State, 80-70, but beat the Wolfpack, 69-52, in the rematch and also won, 71-62, in the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament. The Jackets lost to Mississippi State, 71-56.
Tech in Post-Season Play
Georgia Tech is making its third post-season appearance in school history and its first since 1993. The Yellow Jackets have been to the Women’s National Invitation Tournament in 1992 and the NCAA Tournament in 1993.
Tech is 3-1 all-time in post-season play, with a 3-0 mark in the WNIT and an 0-1 mark in NCAA play. Georgia Tech won the Women’s NIT in its first-ever postseason appearance in 1992 with wins over Wisconsin-Green Bay, Nebraska and Hawaii.
All of Tech’s postseason appearances have come under current head coach Agnus Berenato.
Tech in the WNIT
Georgia Tech is making its making its second appearance in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament and first since 1992.
The Yellow Jackets are 3-0 all-time in the WNIT, having won the event in Tech’s first post-season appearance in school history. The Yellow Jackets defeated Wisconsin Green-Bay and Nebraska to reach the championship game, where Tech defeated Hawaii, 90-72, to claim the title.
The Yellow Jackets are the only ACC school to have won a WNIT title. Eight of the nine ACC schools have appeared in the WNIT at least once. Clemson has received three WNIT bids, while North Carolina and Tech have earned two each. Duke, Maryland NC State and Viriginia have earned one each.
Tech vs. the NCAA, WNIT Fields
Georgia Tech played 11 different teams during the regular season that qualified for postseason play and the Yellow Jackets were 8-11 against those teams. Seven teams Tech played this season qualified for the NCAA Tournament and four made the Women’s National Invitation Tournament.
The Yellow Jackets went 4-10 this season against teams that made the NCAA field of 64 with two wins against NC State and one each against Clemson and North Carolina. Tech also played NCAA teams Duke, Georgia, Mississippi State and Virginia. Six of the seven NCAA teams Tech played earned seedings of No. 5 or higher.
Tech went 4-1 against the five teams it played who made this year’s WNIT field with two wins against Maryland and one each against Georgia State and Western Michigan. The Jackets’ only loss to teams participating in the WNIT was to Pittsburgh.
Martinez on ACC Tourney Second Team
Georgia Tech sophomore Milli Martinez (Imlay City, Mich.) was named to the second-team ACC all-tournament team after helping the Yellow Jackets reach the semifinals for the first time since 1992.
Martinez averaged 12 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 2.0 steals in Tech’s two tournament games.
In the Jackets’ 71-62 quarterfinal win over NC State, Martinez scored 16 points, all in the second half. She had 10 straight for Tech during one stretch, keying a 12-2 run to put the Jackets up to stay with 5:45 left. She had eight points, six rebounds, three assists and four steals in Tech’s 77-56 semifinal loss to Duke, who went on to win the tournament title.
She becomes just the four player in Tech history to be named to the all-ACC Tournament team, joining Devony Caldwell, Joyce Pierce, Kisha Ford and Carla Munnion.