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Jackets Advance to WNIT Championship

THE FLATS – A gritty fourth quarter from Georgia Tech sealed a spot in the 2017 WNIT Championship when the Yellow Jackets overcame an 11-point deficit to defeat Washington State 69-61 Wednesday night in McCamish Pavilion. Both Zaire O’Neil and Elo Edeferioka finished with double-doubles on the evening.

“I’ve been at Georgia Tech for 14 years and to have the opportunity to play for a championship the same year our men are playing for a championship in the same tournament is special to me,” commented head coach MaChelle Joseph. “I’ve always thought Georgia Tech is a tremendous basketball school with a great history. One of the things we tried to do was build our history. I’m really proud of the work our team and coaching staff has put in this year. We lost a lot of close games, but that made us a better team and now here we are playing for a championship.”

How It Happened
In a tight first quarter, WSU tied the game twice and was able to capitalize on Tech’s five turnovers, converting the miscues into 13 points, fueled by three triples. Tech held its largest lead of five points following an old-fashioned three-point play from Imani Tilford at the 6:37 mark. WSU would knot the game twice before taking its first lead off a Maria Kostourkova bucket, but Tech would regain the lead at the break, 20-19. The Cougars held the lead the majority of the second quarter as Tech shot just 26.3 percent from the field in the frame and 16.7 percent from the charity stripe. Tech used a 6-2 run midway through the stanza to tie the game at 28-28, but WSU answered with a 7-4 run to close the half and lead 35-32 at the halftime break.

WSU worked its way out to a double-digit lead in the third quarter, but a persistent Tech squad fought back with an 8-2 run to climb back within five, 54-49, at the end of the frame. The Jackets carried the run into the fourth quarter and a three-point play from Kaylan Pugh at the 8:54 mark knotted the game at 54-54, forcing WSU to burn a timeout. The Jackets continued to press, extending their run to 18-0 to gain a seven-point advantage before the Cougars snapped the streak. Despite their efforts, the Cougars were held to a dismal 18.8 percent shooting clip in the fourth quarter, while Tech shot 53.8 percent, outscoring WSU 20-7 in the fourth frame to seal the win.

Tech Tidbits
* Georgia Tech moved to 22-14 overall this season and advanced to the title game – marking the first championship game appearance in the WNIT since the tournament changed names in 1998. Tech won the tournament in 1992 when it was the NWIT.
* Tech dominated on the glass, out-rebounding WSU 50-35 led by Edeferioka and O’Neil each with 16 boards
* The Jackets secured 20 offensive rebounds, converting the boards into 16 second chance points
* Four Jackets finished in double-figure scoring numbers led by O’Neil with 20 points. Francesca Pan added 14 points, while Imani Tilford finished with 12 and Edeferioka contributed 11
* Tech outscored WSU in the paint 40-20

Next Up
Georgia Tech will play for the WNIT title on Saturday at 3 p.m. against Michigan. The championship will take place at Calihan Hall on the campus of Detroit Mercy and will be televised on CBS Sports Network.

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