THE FLATS – Georgia Tech women’s basketball handed Georgia its first loss of the season and snapped a five-game win streak the Lady Bulldogs held over the Yellow Jackets with a 52-45 victory on Sunday. The win marked the first since 2010 over Georgia and fourth of head coach MaChelle Joseph’s career. With the win, Tech remained undefeated on the season, improving its record to 4-0.
“It was a typical Georgia-Georgia Tech game in any sport we play, it was a battle for 40 minutes,” Joseph commented. “Obviously Zaire O’Neil was huge in this game – her ability to make plays with her back to the basket against three really good post players that Georgia has. I thought it was a tale of halves for the post play. I thought Caliya Robinson pretty much controlled the first half with her points and rebounds and then I thought Zaire O’Neil controlled the second half with her points and rebounds.
Zaire kept us in the game in the first half as well.
“I thought Imani Tilford was key down the stretch. I’ve challenged our juniors that it is time to turn the corner in their career and find a way to win. I really thought today when it counted, Imani Tilford, Zaire O’Neil and Katarina Vuckovic really stepped up.”
How It Happened
With the exception of a pair of ties in the first half, Tech led for the first twenty minutes on the court and carried a 28-23 lead into halftime. O’Neil led the Yellow Jackets with 11 points in the first half as Tech shot 39.3 percent (11-28) from the field and held the Lady Bulldogs to a 34.6 percent (9-26) clip.
UGA took its first lead of the contest using an 8-1 run to open the second half and grabbed a 31-29 advantage with 6:47 left in the third quarter. The teams traded baskets for the next three minutes, but the Lady Bulldogs continued to hold a slight advantage in the third frame.
Trailing by two points with just over nine minutes to play, Imani Tilford cut the score to a one point deficit from the charity stripe before freshman Francesca Pan nailed a three-pointer at the 7:31 mark to return a 43-41 edge to GT, forcing UGA to burn a timeout. Shanea Armbrister came out of the timeout knotting the game for the sixth and final time, hitting a layup at 7:17, setting the score at 43-43. But Tech would hold the Lady Bulldogs to a pair of free throws over the final seven minutes and closed the game on a 9-2 run to seal the victory.
Over the final seven minutes of play, Georgia was 0-for-10 from the field, while Tech finished 5-of-8 from the charity stripe and out-rebounded UGA 9-7.
A Sweet Victory
Tech’s win over Georgia marked the fifth in program history and snapped a five-game win streak since 2010. The Yellow Jackets are now 4-9 against UGA in Atlanta and improved its all-time record to 5-34. The win also marked the first for senior Katarina Vuckovic over Georgia since her arrival on The Flats. In her final game against Georgia, Vuckovic earned the start and contributed eight points, three assists, two rebounds and two steals in 39 minutes.
O’Neil on a Streak
Junior Zaire O’Neil scored a game-high 20 points, just four points shy of matching her career-high, and added six rebounds, two blocks and one steal on the afternoon. The Newark, N.J., native has scored in double-figures in three of the four games this season.
* With the win, Tech moved to 4-0 on the season, marking the fifth time under MaChelle Joseph the Yellow Jackets have opened the season 4-0
* Tech opened the season 4-0 for the first time since the 2011-12 season
* The win marked the first over Georgia since a 69-53 victory on Dec. 5, 2010
* For the game, Tech shot 33.3 percent from the field and 45.5 percent from the free throw line
* Tech forced 27 UGA turnovers and converted the miscues into 25 points
* Georgia won the battle on the glass, 42-33
The Yellow Jackets return to action at the Junkanoo Jam in Bimini, Bahamas. Tech opens the tournament on Friday, Nov. 25 facing Dayton at 3 p.m. EST. The tournament will be streamed on FloSports for a subscription.