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Jackets Rally Past Hokies, 56-54

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THE FLATS –  Lorela Cubaj knocked down four free throws in the final 34 seconds, including the game-winning pair with 2.6 seconds left, and Georgia Tech rallied from 10 points down in the final period to earn a 56-54 Atlantic Coast Conference women’s basketball victory Sunday afternoon at McCamish Pavilion.

Lotta-Maj Lahtinen scored eight of her team-high 17 points in final period, including three baskets over a three-minute stretch in which the Yellow Jackets (6-3 overall, 4-2 ACC) tied the game at 46 with 4:05 left and then led 52-50 with 1:36 remaining. She was one of three Yellow Jackets in double figures, with Kierra Fletcher pitching in with 14, including 7-of-9 from the foul line.

Cubaj finished the contest with 10 points and a game-high 13 rebounds, her sixth game in double-digit rebounds this season for the Jackets. The double-double marked her second consecutive and 14th in her career.

Aisha Sheppard led all scorers with 20 points, hitting 4-of-10 shots from three-point range, 5-of-16 overall, and 6-for-6 from the free throw line for Virginia Tech. Her free throws with 1:04 remaining in the game provided the final points for the Hokies (6-4 overall, 1-4 ACC), who lost their fourth straight game.

The defensive struggle featured seven lead changes and eight ties. Neither team was strong from the floor offensively with both shooting under 40 percent, but the Yellow Jackets held a decisive advantage at the free throw line, 15-of-19 to the Hokies’ 8-of-10. Georgia Tech limited the Hokies, the best-shooting three-point team in the league, to six three-pointers in the game.

In the final period, Georgia Tech scored the first 11 points, including a pair of point-blank baskets from Nerea Hermosa, creating a back-and-forth affair over the final five minutes. Tech took its first lead since the opening period on a three-point basket at 5:44 by Sarah Bates, and the Jackets led by as many as four (50-46) before the Hokies fought back and tied the game on a three-pointer by Sheppard with 2:06 on the clock.

Lahtinen put the Jackets back ahead, 52-50, with a layup at the 1:36 mark, before Georgia Amoore tied it again with a layup at 1:24 and Sheppard gave her team the lead back, 54-52, with a pair of free throws at 1:04.

On the Yellow Jackets’ next possession, Cubaj was fouled fighting for an offensive rebound and drained both free throws to knot the contest for the eighth time at 54 with 34.3 seconds left. The Jackets forced a shot clock violation on the Hokies’ final possession, giving Georgia Tech a final chance with 3.8 seconds left. Cubaj again was fouled again on the in-bounds play, putting her on the line for the final points.

Tech returns to action Thursday by hosting No. 24/20 Syracuse at 6 p.m. The game will be televised live on the ACC Network, with a live stream available on the ESPN app.

 

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