March 1, 2009
– GEORGIA TECH COACH MaChelle Joseph
“Obviously we’re very pleased with the outcome of today’s game. We talked about it all week. We were playing for a lot today, seeding, fifth-place finish, an over-.500 record in ACC play for only the second time in the history of our program. The most important thing we were playing for today was Senior Night. Jacqua Williams and Tabitha Turner meant so much to this program, on the floor and off the floor. It was important to our team that we give the best effort we possibly could to continue our winning streak at home on Senior Night.
“I’m really happy with our effort today. We got a lot of hustle points, which we knew was going to be important coming into this game. I also felt if we could outrebound Virginia – they are the best offensive rebounding team in the league – I felt like we’d have a chance to win. We were able to hold Aisha Mohammed – one of the best rebounders in the league – to eight rebounds, and I thought that was a major difference.
“Our kids persevered. We got behind in the second half, and that didn’t seem to bother us. It didn’t rattle us. We just kept on playing. We kept on working and came up with some really big plays.
“Obviously we’re excited to finish fifth in the ACC and head to Greensboro as the fifth seed, one of the highest seeds we’ve ever had. We were picked to finish sixth, so we feel like we were successful. But we’re not going to hang our hat on that. We’ve never won two games in the ACC Tournament (under Joseph), and it’s about time that changes.
On playing down the stretch with several players in foul trouble – “Interestingly enough, we’ve played that way all year long. It seems like every game we’ve been in foul trouble, so we understand. They had to play smart in those situations when the game’s on the line. We were playing for everything today. We trusted that they would play smart, and fortunately for us, they did. They came up big with some big plays. We came up with several of those hustle plays at the end, and that showed a lot of guts on their part.”
On playing big down the stretch – “One of the important factors the NCAA committee looks at is how you performed in your last 10 games. We finished very strong in February. We played extremely well down the stretch. We beat a ranked team today. We have significant wins. One of the things we talked about was getting a better seed. Our ultimate goal this year is to get to the Sweet 16 and beyond, and if we wanted to accomplish that, we needed a better seed. We knew we had to win today to get a better seed.”
On Jacqua Williams – “Jacqua has changed our program. One of the things she enabled us to do when she came in was to put in a defensive system that fit my style and personality, I love to coach a full-court game of trapping and running and pressing. Jacqua fit that, and we were able to build that around her. We were able to go out and get other athletes that played that way. A lot of players can change the game on the offensive end. There are very few players who can take over and change it on the defensive end. That’s what Jacqua Williams can do, she can alter anybody’s offensive game.”
GEORGIA TECH SENIOR GUARD Jacqua Williams
On memories from home court – “Every moment is a good moment, when you’re around great people. I’m happy and excited. The team is great, our chemistry is great. We have a strong bond. Every memory here is a good memory; every game, every practice. This was a great decision. I wouldn’t rather be anywhere else. I’m just thankful for the people around me who supported me for four years.”
VIRGINIA COACH DEBBIE RYAN
On going a long time without a field goal in the second half – “We didn’t do a very good job of running our offense today. That was one of our biggest problems. You’ve got to credit Tech forcing us into 28 turnovers, and that was the difference in the game.
They forced you into 31 turnover last year, and you still came out ahead, but you have to make your free throws – “Absolutely. That was a huge part of the game, and I felt defensively we did not play well today. We were not committed to the defensive end of the court.”
How do you size up your club going into the ACC Tournament? – “It’ll be interesting what this group does. They have a chance to go one way or another. I was very disappointed in our play today, and I was very disappointed in our effort on the defensive end.”