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Starting Five: Georgia Tech (21-8, 9-4) vs. No. 12/14 Miami (25-3, 11-2)

Feb. 26, 2011

By Jon Cooper
Sting Daily

TECH LEADING SCORER: Alex Montgomery, 14.1 ppg
TECH LEADING SCORER, ACC: Alex Montgomery, 13.3 ppg

MIAMI LEADING SCORER: Riquana Williams, 21.3 ppg
MIAMI LEADING SCORER, ACC: Riquana Williams, 23.4 ppg

TECH LEADING REBOUNDER: Alex Montgomery, 8.5 rpg
TECH LEADING REBOUNDER, ACC: Alex Montgomery, 8.3 rpg

MIAMI LEADING REBOUNDER: Morgan Stroman, 8.1 rpg
MIAMI LEADING REBOUNDER, ACC: Morgan Stroman, 8.0 rpg

TECH SCORING: 65.8/ppg/63.9 (ACC)
OPPONENT: 55.1 ppg/59.8 (ACC)

MIAMI SCORING: 80.5 ppg/75.9 (ACC)
OPPONENT: 60.5 ppg/66.5 (ACC)

MIAMI PLAYER TO WATCH: Shenise Johnson: The junior guard may be second on the team in scoring (21.7 ppg, her teammate, Riquana Williams leads the ACC) and rebounds (7.2), but is second to none on the floor. She’s leads the Canes with 3.8 assists per game, and ranks in the top 10 in the conference in field goal percentage (48.5, 10th), assists (3.8, 9th), free throw percentage (85.1, 4th), steals (3.2), defensive rebounds (4.8, 7th) and minutes (33.6, tied for third with Georgia Tech’s Metra Walthour). A first-team All-ACC selection last season, she had 23 points, four rebounds, four steals and two blocked shots in the team’s first meeting.

Georgia Tech plays its final regular-season game of the 2010-11 season and says goodbye to Alexander Memorial Coliseum, hosting No. 12/14 Miami, this afternoon. Tip-off is at 2:00 p.m.

Tickets are available for Sunday’s game and if you wear white, you will receive entry for only $2.

The Yellow Jackets, who have won 20 games for the fifth straight season, will look to make history as they go for a school-record 10th win in ACC play. Conference win No. 9 came in Chapel Hill on Thursday night, when they knocked off North Carolina, 67-54, completing only the third sweep of the Tar Heels in the school history and the first in 20 years. It was the Jackets’ first win in Chapel Hill since Jan. 17, 2002. Alex Montgomery had a game-high 22 in the victory, giving her and fellow-senior Deja Foster a share of the school record for most wins by a senior class (88) and most ACC wins (32).

It would be fitting for the seniors to go out with a win over Miami today, as one of Montgomery’s most memorable shots came against the U.

It came on Jan. 13, 2008 and was a buzzer-beater that gave Tech a 68-65 win at AMC. Montgomery recalled the shot as if she’d just taken it.

“Jill [Ingram] was dribbling down the floor,” she recalled. “She broke the press, kicked it out to me and told me, ‘Knock it down!’ and I knocked it down and we won the game.”

“I didn’t play much my freshman year but I played through Alex. I was her biggest cheerleader,” added Foster. “When we played Miami our freshman year here, she hit a buzzer-beater. Just to see the excitement and everything on her face, just to know she was going to be a superstar, she was going to be more.”

Head Coach MaChelle Joseph feels that the shot was not just a defining moment for Montgomery but for the program.

“The year before we had lost on a last-second shot to Miami in the ACC Tournament that kept us from having a .500 record and getting into postseason play,” recalled Joseph. “When [Alex] hit that last-second shot, it was at a time where it kind of put us over the hump in the ACC and gave us an opportunity to go to postseason. (After losing a two-point game in Miami a month later, Tech walloped the Canes, 76-49, in the first round of the ACC Tournament, and get to the NCAAs for the second straight season).

“It’s poetic justice in the fact that now we’re playing them in the last game of their careers,” she continued. “But no matter who we played it’s going to be a special day because of those two people, who have not just been incredible basketball players but they’ve also been incredible people and competitors in our program. They’ve meant a lot to Georgia Tech and the emergence of our basketball program and the consistency with which we’ve been able to win.”

A win today would make for a sweet finish to the year and be even sweeter considering the tough 84-74 overtime decision in Miami back on Jan. 30. Tech sits in fourth place in the ACC, one game ahead of Maryland and North Carolina.

“It would be nice,” said Montgomery. “I wouldn’t say we’re rivals but we’re very aggressive against one another. We have to win. If they win it’s like the best time of their life. They feel like they’ve accomplished so much by beating us. So we have to win. We know we’re capable of winning. All we have to do is stop their two key players (Williams and Johnson) and the game’s over.”

“We owe them one,” added Foster. “We gave it away at their house.”

Tech fans can catch today’s game on WREK, 91.1 FM or online at www.WREK.org. Richard Musterer calls the action with Kyle Tait adding color analysis. Fans can get live stats by logging onto Ramblinwreck.com.

Here now, the starting five for today’s game.

Double Dutch: Alex Montgomery heads into her final home game with 18 double-doubles for her career. Her next one would be special as it would give her 10 for the season. That would give her one more this season than she had in her three previous seasons combined. Montgomery also enters today with 84 double-digit-scoring games, and 15 with at least 20 points. The senior co-captain has filled up the box score all season long, as she heads into the season finale ranked in the top 10 in defensive rebounding (6.6, 1st), free throw percentage (86.1, 3rd), rebounding (8.3, 6th), three-point field goals made (1.8 per game, 8th), steals (2.2, 8th), and minutes (32.5, 8th). Montgomery is 13th in scoring (13.3 ppg).

Ms. Consistency: Deja Foster’s relentlessness on the boards has become her trademark. She’s also been remarkably consistent as an equal-opportunity rebounder. Over her last five games, she’s pulled down 36 rebounds — 19 offensive boards and 17 on the defensive end. She’s totaled 3-3–6 three times, 5-4–9 in the other two. Foster also has been extremely generous of late, having handed out four assists in each of the last two games while committing only one turnover. In conference play, Foster has cracked the top 15 in rebounds (6.5, 14th, tied with teammate Sasha Goodlett and Clemson’s Jasmine Tate), steals (1.7, one steal behind teammate Ty Marshall), and offensive rebounds (3.2 ORPG, ninth). She’s tied in that final category with Miami’s Morgan Stroman.

Gonna Miss You: Georgia Tech has had quite a run at Alexander Memorial Coliseum, especially in the MaChelle Joseph Era. The Jackets head into today’s game having put up a 95-26 record in eight seasons under Joseph (a .785 winning percentage) and this season have had their best season yet, with a 14-2 mark. In the four years that Montgomery and Foster have been in the program, Tech is 53-8, a .868 winning percentage and Tech has never lost more than two home games in a season.

Goodlett As Gold: Junior center Sasha Goodlett is coming on strong as the season winds down. With her 13-point effort Thursday night at North Carolina, Goodlett has now hit for at least 12 points in five of the last seven games. In those seven games she’s hitting close to 50 percent from (36-for-73, 49.3 percent). Ih her last two games Goodlett has been especially accurate, hitting 12 of 18 shots (66.7 percent). She’s put herself in the top 10 in field goal percentage (48.8, 8th), and is just shy of the ACC’s top 20 in scoring (11.1, 22nd). Goodlett already is in the top 10 in blocks (1.1 per game, 7th), and offensive rebounding (3.3 ORPG, sixth).

Good Things Happen In Threes: Metra Walthour’s three-assist, three-steal effort at North Carolina marked the 13th time this season that the Yellow Jackets’ junior point guard had at least three dimes while and recording three swipes. “Me-Me” had five such games coming into the season. Walthour heads into today’s finale third in the ACC in assist-to-turnover ratio (plus-1.8) and steals (2.5 spg), and is tied for fifth in assists (4.2 apg).

The Sixth Man: Chelsea Regins has been on a mission on the offensive glass, as in two of the last three games she’s set her season-high for offensive caroms. Regins pulled down five (her total for the night) in 17 minutes against N.C. State on Feb. 13, then, on Thursday one-upped that effort by grabbing six offensive rebounds (out of her total of seven). The six offensive rebounds are two short of her career-single-game high, set on Nov. 21, 2009, when Regins went off for eight offensive rebounds against Florida Gulf Coast (she had 16 for the game). Those two efforts marked the second and third times this season that Regins’ offensive rebounds matched or surpassed her points, as she had five offensive boards vs. four points against N.C. State and six ORs and six points at UNC (she had three rebounds and two points on Dec. 1 against Northwestern).

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