THE FLATS – Using a strong fourth quarter, the Georgia Tech women’s basketball team opened the 2016-17 campaign with a 62-57 victory over Samford on Friday night at McCamish Pavilion. Four players finished in double-figure scoring numbers led by Zaire O’Neil with 16 points.
“I’m really proud of the way we pulled out the win,” commented head coach MaChelle Joseph. “I think that was a really good game for us early in the season. Samford is a very well coached team.”
How It Happened
Samford led the contest for over 24 minutes hitting over half their field goals from three-point range but Georgia Tech used a 61.5 percent shooting efficiency in the fourth quarter to erase the double-digit deficit and pull out the victory. The teams worked through three ties and six lead changes including two lead changes and two ties in the first quarter. Tech carried a late run in the first quarter into the second quarter, but Samford responded using a 13-2 run to regain the lead.
Samford led by as many as eight points in the second quarter and carried a 29-26 advantage into the halftime break. Tech shot 37.0 percent (10-27) from the field in the first half compared to Samford’s 47.6 percent (10-21) effort that included seven treys.
Leading the entire third quarter, Samford grabbed its first double-digit lead 15 seconds into the fourth quarter on a Hannah Nichols three-pointer to set the score at 50-40. O’Neil jumpstarted a 12-0 Tech run over a three minute period that erased the Yellow Jacket deficit and returned the lead in favor of Tech, 52-50 with 5:13 to play.
The Bulldogs snagged their last lead of the contest on the ensuing possession as Kassidy Blevins connected on her third triple of the evening. But the lead was short-lived as O’Neil put the Yellow Jackets back on top for the final time with a jumper at 4:06.
The Italian Way
Teammates and fellow countrymen Antonia Peresson and Francesca Pan both had impressive nights as Pan made her collegiate debut with 12 points, three rebounds and one steal. The freshman connected on 3-of-5 attempts from three-point range and finished 4-for-7 from the field. Peresson contributed 10 points, six rebounds, three steals, two assists and two three-pointers in 36 minutes. Combined, the countrymen finished with 22 points, nine rebounds, four steals and two assists.
Lending A Hand
On the evening, Tech registered 13 assists paced by O’Neil, Katarina Vuckovic and freshman Zutorya Cook. Making her collegiate debut, Cook recorded a strong showing finishing with five points, four steals, three assists and three rebounds.
* With the win, Georgia Tech is now 32-11 in season openers
* Head coach MaChelle Joseph is 13-1 in season openers and 10-1 when opening at home
* Tech improved its all-time record versus Samford to 4-0
* Zaire O’Neil scored in double-figure points for the 27th in her career, leading the Yellow Jackets with 16 points on the evening. O’Neil finished opening night with 16 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals in 34 minutes.
* Antonia Peresson matched her career-high of six rebounds as the junior led Tech in rebounding
* Tech shot under 50 percent (47.6) from the free throw line, finishing 10-21 at the charity stripe.
Tech faces a quick turnaround as the Yellow Jackets welcome Alabama State to McCamish Pavilion on Sunday, Nov. 13, for a 2 p.m. tip.