Nov. 23, 2004
ATLANTA – Sophomore Stephanie Higgs came off the bench to score a career-high 19 points and lead Georgia Tech (2-0) to a 71-64 win over Old Dominion (0-1) Tuesday at Alexander Memorial Coliseum. Higgs was one of three Tech players in double figures in points on the night, while eight Yellow Jackets played more than 10 minutes in the contest.
“It really was a big win for us,” said Tech head coach MaChelle Joseph. “We have nothing but respect for Old Dominion and [ODU head coach] Wendy Larry. Anytime you can get a win against a team that has won a national championship, it’s a big step for a program.”
Freshmen Jill Ingram and Chioma Nnamaka scored 14 and 12 points, respectively, while Jessica Williams added eight and Kentrina Wilson, six. Ingram recorded three steals against the Lady Monarchs, while Nnamaka led Tech with six rebounds. Old Dominion outrebounded the Jackets, 45-29, but turned the ball over 28 times, as compared to Tech’s 16, which led to 24 Georgia Tech points.
The Yellow Jackets had their seven-point halftime lead whittled to just two in the first four-and-a-half minutes of the second half, as Georgia Tech made just one field goal during the span, with the score at 44-42 in favor of the home team with 15:30 remaining in the game. The Lady Monarchs then went on a 10-0 run, with Shareese Grant hitting a pair of three-pointers, to take the lead, 52-47, with 10:50 on the clock. After Ingram missed a layup, she stole the rebounded ball from Lawona Davis and made a pair of layups at 9:34 to pull the Yellow Jackets to within one. Higgs then stole the pass from Sherida Triggs on the ensuing inbound play and made the layup to cap Tech’s 6-0 run and give the Jackets the 53-52 lead.
“Old Dominion had just scored ten consecutive points on us, and I felt like we really needed to step it up, and I think that the two steals that we had were a key part of that,” said Higgs. “We have so much talent, especially with the new freshmen, and we’re trying to play together, moving the ball around and getting good looks and I think that we did that tonight. I wasn’t expecting a career-high, I just really wanted to come out here and get a win, but it feels really great to get both.”
After exchanging the lead two more times, Georgia Tech went on a 12-4 run to take the permanent lead. The Jackets then went 8-for-9 from the free-throw line and hit 3-for-4 from the field over the final four minutes of the game to make the final margin of victory seven points.
“We knew that Old Dominion would battle back, but we are really proud of our kids for sticking in there and deciding that they wouldn’t be denied, that they wouldn’t lose,” said Joseph. “I think that’s a sign of a pretty good team. I was also really proud of our young players for stepping up big tonight.”
Georgia Tech took a 10-4 lead on a fast-break layup by Chioma Nnamaka with 17:42 remaining in the first half and led by as much as 10 in the frame when Stephanie Higgs hit a pair of free throws with 3:43 on the clock. Old Dominion held the lead just once, when Grant made a layup at 14:42, while there were four ties in the frame, with the last coming on a layup by Shahida Williams that tied the game at 25-25 with 6:36 on the clock. The Jackets took a 37-30 lead into the lockerroom, led by Nnamaka’s nine points and Higgs’ eight.
Grant led the Lady Monarchs with 18 points on the evening, while Megan Pym added 12.
“The one common denominator in Old Dominion’s lineup tonight was Grant, and she’s a big-time player,” said Joseph. “We tried to come up with a defense to stop her, and we couldn’t. She hit some big three-pointers and she’s not a three-point shooter.”
The Yellow Jackets will take Thanksgiving off and return to action when they host the Princeton Tigers Sunday at Alexander Memorial Coliseum. The game will tip-off at 2 p.m. and be broadcast on WREK-Radio, 91.1 FM in Atlanta and online at www.wrek.org. Livestats for the contest will be available at www.ramblinwreck.com.