ATLANTA (March 19) — Seeking its second Women’s National Invitation Tournament title, Georgia Tech’s women’s basketball team (17-13) travels to Arkansas (16-14) for the quarterfinals of the 2000 WNIT at 8 p.m. Tuesday at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville, Ark.
Arkansas is the defending champion of the WNIT, and Tech is seeking another WNIT title to go along with the one it won in 1992.
“We are focused on trying to the WNIT title,” said Yellow Jacket head coach Agnus Berenato. “Our next step takes us to Arkansas. We are happy for this opportunity and are happy to still be playing.”
Tuesday night’s winner will advance to the semifinals to meet the winner of another quarterfinal game between Florida and Maryland on Friday or Saturday. Time and location are to be determined.
The Yellow Jackets, who are now 5-0 all time in the WNIT, reached the quarters with a pair of hard-fought victories over Southern Mississippi and Chattanooga. Tech outlasted Southern Miss, 76-71, in overtime at home in the first round, and downed Chattanooga, 81-74, on the road in round two.
“We knew those games were going to be tough,” Berenato said. “We showed great versatility and character by getting through the first game in overtime. We faced a lot of adversity going up to play Chattanooga on their home court. We matured a lot in that game and were mentally strong. We were able to stay focused and get the win.
“We’ve had the adversity of going on the road and playing in front of a hostile crowd, so we shouldn’t be afraid of it.”
In Arkansas, the Jackets will face a team that has won twice on its home court to reach the quarterfinals. The Lady Razorbacks topped Wichita State, 83-63, in the first round and downed Missouri, 89-88, in overtime in the second round.
Head coach Gary Blair’s Lady Razorbacks are led by junior guard Wendi Willits, who averages 14.6 points, and senior post player, Karyn Karlin, who averages 10.7 points and 5.1 rebounds.
“They have two marquee players in Wendi Willits and Karyn Karlin,” Berenato said. “Willits gets a lot her shots off screens, and Karlin is very steady and aggressive. Gary Blair is a friend of mine, and he is a really good coach.
“They are the defending WNIT champions and have a lot of postseason experience. We know we have to go in and play strong.”
The Yellow Jackets have won shown remarkable balance offensively of late, especially in their two WNIT wins. Tech has placed at least five players in double figures in the last two games, and four different players have led the team in scoring in the last four games. Tech shot a season-high 54.8 percent in its win over Chattanooga.
“We’ve been trying to emphasize shot selection,” Berenato said. “We’ve really focused on what shots to take, who should be taking what shots and where they should be taking those shots from. I think this team has found a rhythm and believes in the offensive sets we’re running.”
Junior Regina Tate (Columbus, Ga.) and freshman Amy Lingenfelder (Fairfax, Va.) have provided added offense for the Jackets of late. Tate is averaging a double-double and is shooting 60 percent from the floor in Tech’s last six games, while Lingenfelder has scored in double figures in four straight.
Sophomore Milli Martinez (Imlay City, Mich.) has continued her strong, late-season play. She scored a game-high 20 points in Tech’s second round win over Chattanooga, and had six of the Jackets’ last nine points in the game.
Berenato hopes to continue to see the offensive balance her team has displayed of late, and believes it is critical for the Tech to continue to advance in the postseason.
“We have to win with a lot of players scoring and doing the little things,” Berenato said. “Besides this is the postseason and everybody needs to step up.”
Series with Arkansas
Georgia Tech and Arkansas are meeting for the first time Tuesday night in the quarterfinals of the WNIT. The Lady Razorbacks, defending WNIT champions, are the third Southeastern Conference opponent for the Yellow Jackets this season, marking the first time in Tech history the Jackets have three SEC opponents in the same year. The Jackets played Georgia and Mississippi State during the regular season.
Tech is just 3-35 all-time against teams from the Southeastern Conference.
Georgia Tech and Arkansas have two common opponents this season in Georgia and Mississippi State, and the Yellow Jackets and Lady Razorbacks both went 0-2 against those teams. Arkansas lost to 22nd-ranked Mississippi State, 69-56, on Jan. 20 in Starkville, Miss., and lost to third-ranked Georgia, 72-69, on Feb. 20 in Athens, Ga. The Yellow Jackets fell 71-56, to 25th-ranked Mississippi State at home on Dec. 9, and lost to seventh-ranked Georgia, 86-58, on Jan. 20 in Marietta, Ga.
Jackets Set Record For Road Wins
Georgia Tech set a new school record for most road wins in a season with its 81-74 win over Chattanooga in the second round of the WNIT. The Jackets’ win over the Mocs was Tech’s seventh road win of the season, eclipsing the old mark of six set by the 1992-93 team.
This season also marks the first time in school history the Jackets have had a winning record on a road. The Jackets are 7-5 on the road this season, including a perfect 4-0 in non-conference road games.
Tech Undefeated In WNIT Play
Georgia Tech improved to 5-0 all-time in WNIT play with its 81-74 win over Chattanooga in the second round. Tech is 2-0 in this year’s WNIT, having beaten Southern Mississippi, 76-71, in overtime in the first round.
The Yellow Jackets went 3-0 and won the WNIT in the programs first postseason appearance in 1992. Tech defeated Wisconsin Green-Bay, Nebraska and Hawaii and in succession to claim the title.
Tech is 5-1 all-time in the postseason, with a 5-0 mark in the WNIT and an 0-1 mark in NCAA play. The Jackets lost to Northwestern in the first round of the 1993 NCAA Tournament.