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Jackets Set for Second Round of ACC Play Beginning with Clemson

ATLANTA (Jan. 24) — After completing the first half of its Atlantic Coast Conference schedule at 4-4, Georgia Tech’s womens’ basketball team begins its second tour of duty through the conference with a road game at Clemson at 7:30 p.m. Monday, January 31, at Little John Coliseum.

The game will be televised live on the ACC Regional Sports Networks, including FOX Sports Net South in Atlanta.

With a 73-67 win at Maryland Sunday, the Yellow Jackets (11-7 overall) finished the first round of league play with a .500 record for the first time since the 1996-97 season. Tech is currently in fourth place in the conference race.

“Right now we are in fourth place, but there are still some teams that haven’t finished their first round of conference games,” said Tech head coach Agnus Berenato. “We really won’t know until later this week where we truly stand, but we are very excited with where we are now. This is the first time in a long time that we have been in the upper half of the conference standings at this point in the season.

“Our goal was to move up throught the ranks and go to the NCAA Tournament. Even though we’ve had some setbacks, we are not letting that bother us and we are not changing our goals.”

The Yellow Jackets reopen conference play at Clemson following a seven-day layoff after their win at Maryland. Tech defeated the Tigers, 81-62, earlier this season in Atlanta, but the Jackets now face a Clemson team that is beginning to hit its stride under head coach Jim Davis.

“Clemson is never an easy game at home or on the road,” Berenato said. “I have a great deal of respect for Coach Davis and his program. We have to go into the game with the attitude that we can win, and we have to control the tempo of the game. That is what we were able to do at home.”

However, Berenato knows the Clemson team she sees this time won’t be the same as the first.

“At the beginning of the season, they had so many new players,” Berenato said. “Only now are they starting to understand each other and how to play with each other.”

With the week off before facing the Tigers, Berenato will not only keep her players focused on where they are, but where they want to go.

“We are going to take a couple days off, but will continue to work on our fundamentals,” Berenato said. “We will try to get our kids to realize where we are now and where we might go at the end of the season or where we might not go at the end of the season.”

Georgia Tech and Clemson meet for the 42nd time Monday in the series which dates back to Jan. 31, 1980.

The Tigers lead the all-time series with the Yellow Jackets, 33-9, and have won six of the last seven meetings. Tech snapped a six-game losing streak to Clemson with an 81-62 win against the Tigers on Dec. 4 in Atlanta.

The Yellow Jackets will be going for a sweep of the two regular-season meetings for the first time in four seasons. Tech took both meetings against the Tigers during the 1995-96 season, winning 68-60 on Jan. 25, 1996 in Atlanta and 55-38 on Feb. 25, 1996 at Clemson. The Jackets’ 55-38 victory that season was also Tech’s last win at Clemson.

Through the first 18 games of the season, Georgia Tech’s point guard Nina Brlin (Katrineholm, Sweden) already ranks among the Yellow Jackets’ top-10 for assists by a freshman.

Brlin had a career-high nine assists in the Yellow Jackets’ 73-67 win at Maryland Sunday, giving her 73 on the season. Her total ranks as the seventh highest total by a Tech freshman.

Brlin is averaging 4.1 assists per game, which is currently the second highest per game assist average in school history behind Niesha Butler, who averaged 4.4 assists per game last season. Her 4.1 assists per game also ranks fourth overall in the ACC.

GEORGIA TECH MOST ASSISTS BY A FRESHMANRk.     Player (Year)            G       Ast.    Avg.1.      Carmen Davis (1989-90)   30      173     (5.8)2.      Niesha Butler (1998-99)  27      120     (4.4)3.      Kisha Ford (1993-94)     27      108     (4.0)4.      Ida Neal (1985-86)       27      97      (3.6)5.      Tory Ehle (1983-84)      28      91      (3.3)6.      Tiffany Martin (1993-94) 23      77      (3.4)7.      Nina Brlin (1999-2000)  18      73      (4.1) 8.      Mary Giambruno (1979-80) 25      70      (2.8)9.      Carla Munnion (1994-95)  30      67      (2.2)10.     Anita Malone (1981-82)   24      65      (2.7)11.     Kate Brandt (1980-81)    26      63      (2.4)

Junior Jaime Kruppa (Lithonia, Ga.) recorded her ACC-leading seventh double-double in Georgia Tech’s 73-67 win at Maryland Sunday. Kruppa finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds against the Terrapins, scoring all 14 of her points in the second half.

Kruppa is the Yellow Jackets’ leading scorer and rebounder and ranks among the conference leaders in both categories. Her 11.8 points per game ranks 13th overall in the ACC, and her 8.7 rebounds per game is third best in the ACC.

Junior Regina Tate (Columbus, Ga.) has shown recent signs of returning to her form of a year ago when she averaged 9.9 points and 8.7 rebounds.

Tate is averaging 12.7 points and 7.7 rebounds while shooting 60.7 percent (17-of-28) in the Yellow Jackets last three games. Tate matched her season-high with 16 points at Florida State, pulled down a season-high 10 rebounds against seventh-ranked Georgia and scored a team-high 15 points in the Jackets’ 73-67 win at Maryland.

Tate has started the last six games for the Jackets after coming off the bench in the first 12 games of the season. As a starter, Tate is averaging five more points, 2.5 more rebounds and shooting close to 13 percent better from the floor than she did as a reserve.

In six games as a starter, Tate is averaging 9.0 points, 6.7 rebounds and shooting 53.2 percent from the floor. In 12 games as a reserve, Tate averaged 4.0 points, 4.2 rebounds and shot 40.4 percent.

Through Georgia Tech’s first 18 games, 71 is the magic number for the Yellow Jacket offense. Tech is 10-0 on the season when it scores 71 or more points. Conversely, the Jackets are just 1-7 when scoring 70 or fewer points.


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