Jan. 17, 2012
By Jon Cooper
Georgia Tech is looking to extend one winning streak while attempting to end a couple of others when it takes on No. 5/5 Duke. Tip-off at the Arena at Gwinnett Center is set for 7:00 p.m. The Jackets are riding a modest two-game ACC winning streak, which they’d like to extend to three. Among the streaks the Jackets would like to bring to an end are their 0-5 record against ranked teams this year — all five losses have come to ranked opponents — and their 0-for-the-last-33 streak against the Blue Devils, which includes an 0-for-12 in the MaChelle Joseph Era.
The Yellow Jackets are coming off a historic win on Sunday afternoon, as they topped Boston College, 68-58. The win was Tech’s first in four tries at Conte Forum. Sasha Goodlett scored 26 points and pulled in 16 rebounds, both game- and career-highs, while Ty Marshall added 15 and Metra Walthour added 14, hitting all three of Tech’s three-point baskets. Tech trailed by seven in the first half, but went on an 18-5 run and would take a six-point lead into the half. The Jackets extended the lead to 14 in the second half then held on as BC closed to within two. They used a game-closing 9-1 run to pull away.
The Blue Devils notched their eighth straight win and the 50th in ACC play for Head Coach Joanne P. McCallie on Sunday afternoon, thrashing Virginia Tech, 61-34 at Cassell Coliseum in Blacksburg. Elizabeth Williams had 20 points, including hitting 10-of-12 from the foul line, and the Blue Devils limited the Hokies to 20.0 percent shooting in the first half and 28.6 percent for the game. Duke led 33-16 at the break and never looked back. About the only blemish on the game was the Blue Devils’ 0-for-8 shooting from three, marking the first time in 13 games in which they didn’t make at least one three-pointer.
Today’s game is the 63rd in the series, which began in 1979. Duke has controlled the series, winning 55 of the 62 previous meetings, and 33 straight. Coincidentally, the current Duke win streak broke a Tech run of three wins in four games — the last coming on Feb. 27, 1994, a 61-56 victory at Alexander Memorial Coliseum.
Fans can see the game on ESPN3.com with Mike Morgan and Maria Taylor calling the action. Of course, Tech fans can catch tonight’s game on WREK, 91.1 FM or online at www.WREK.org with Richard Musterer and Michele Van Gorp on the call. Fans can get live stats on RamblinWreck.com and also can get instant updates by following the team on Twitter at @GTWBB and can get more information on the team by liking them on Facebook, GTWomensBasketball.
And now, the Starting Five for tonight’s game.
The Last Time We Met: Metra Walthour scored a career-high 20 points and nailed five three-pointers, but Georgia Tech fell, 74-66, in the 2011 ACC Tournament semifinals. Karima Christmas had 20 to lead Duke. Tech trailed 39-29 at the half after the Blue Devils shot 68 percent in the first 20 minutes, but came roaring back. They closed to with 55-53 with 7:10 to play on a Sasha Goodlett jumper, but Duke went on a 6-0 run then fended off the stubborn Jackets, who’d pull within four. Ty Marshall added 19 for Tech, which had upset No. 13 Maryland in the quarterfinal round.
Trading In the Paint: Tonight should provide one of the best match-ups among centers in the nation when Georgia Tech’s Sasha Goodlett battles Duke’s Elizabeth Williams. Goodlett is coming off the tremendous performance against Boston College and is the reigning ACC Player of the Week. It’s the second time this season she’s won the award. Williams is a five-time ACC Rookie of the Week. Both have dominated in ACC play, as Goodlett is third in the conference in scoring at 18.4 ppg (only two-tenths of a point out of the lead), while Williams is 11th at 14.6 ppg. Goodlett is tied for the lead in rebounding at 10.0 rpg — Williams is fifth at 9.0 rpg. Williams is fourth in field goal percentage at 52.0 percent, while Goodlett is hitting at 44.9 percent, 13th, and the duo is 1-2 in blocked shots, with Williams swatting 5.2 shots per game (26), while Goodlett knocks away 2.0 per game.
Triple Threat: Another interesting battle will take place behind the arc, where Tech senior Metra Walthour and Duke sophomore Tricia Liston, two of the ACC’s top five three-point shooters, will go at it. Both are shooting over 40 percent in ACC games, with Walthour at 41.2 (fifth in the ACC) and Liston at 45.0 percent (second, she has taken 14 fewer tries). Overall, over her last 14 games, Liston is hitting 49.1 percent from behind the arc (27-for-55). Walthour has made 14 threes in conference play, 2.8 per game, second in the ACC, while Liston is tied for eighth with 1.8. Prior to going 0-for-3 at Virginia Tech, the Duke sharpshooter had made a three in nine straight games, and had six games with more than one three, including a 5-for-6 game against Pittsburgh. Walthour has become a model of efficiency from downtown, having made a three in 10 of 11 games and seven straight. She has hit multiple threes in eight of those games.
What The Numbers Say (and Don’t Say): A look at the ACC statistics shows that Georgia Tech is almost 16 points behind Duke in scoring margin — Duke is an ACC-best plus-17.4, while Tech is fifth at plus-1.8 — but the difference isn’t necessarily where one might think. While the personality for Georgia Tech is defense first, it’s actually on the defensive end where the difference is most glaring. The Yellow Jackets are comparable offensively to the Blue Devils, as they are third in the ACC in scoring (70.8 ppg) less than 4.0 points a game behind the second-place Blue Devils (74.0). In scoring defense, however, Duke is third in the conference, allowing 56.6 ppg, while Tech is ninth, allowing 69.0. Field goal defense also is advantage Duke, as opponents shoot 36.7 percent to Tech’s 41.7. On the boards, the teams also are close, with Tech grabbing 41.0 per game, Duke 40.8, although the Dukies have a 4.8 edge in rebounding margin (plus-8.8 to plus-4.0). Perhaps the biggest head-scratcher is three-point shooting. A perceived weakness for Tech, the Jackets rank fourth in the conference at 32.2 percent shooting, some 36 points better than Duke, which is ninth at 28.6 and have made three more in ACC play (19-16).
Double Double-Doubles: In Sunday’s win at Boston College the Yellow Jackets had a pair of double-doubles when Sasha Goodlett went for 26 and 16 and Ty Marshall had 15 points and 10 boards. The pair of double-doubles in the same game might have been noteworthy if it hadn’t been done by Tech two games earlier, on Jan. 9 against Miami, when Goodlett went for 19 and 10 and Chelsea Regins had 17 and 10. Tech would have been going for four straight tonight but Goodlett ended up four rebounds shy against Wake Forest on Jan. 12. Marshall went for 20 and 12, while Goodlett had 19 and six.
The Sixth Woman: When it comes to making a point, the Yellow Jackets can do it two ways, with sophomore Dawnn Maye and senior Walthour. Maye currently ranks fourth in the ACC with 4.2 assists per game with Walthour nipping at her heels with 4.1. They are the only teammates in the top five in assists. They also are the only teammates in the top 10 in ACC play, as Walthour’s 4.4 apg puts her fifth while Maye is tied for eighth at 3.6.
DUKE LEADING SCORER: Elizabeth Williams, 13.8 ppg
LEADING SCORER (ACC): Elizabeth Williams, 14.6 ppg
DUKE LEADING REBOUNDER: Elizabeth Williams, 8.9 rpg
LEADING REBOUNDER (ACC): Elizabeth Williams, 9.0 rpg
GEORGIA TECH SCORING/ACC: 72.9/70.8
DUKE SCORING/ACC: 76.3/74.0
DUKE PLAYER TO WATCH: Elizabeth Williams – A candidate for National Freshman of the Year, the 6-3 center has done it all at both ends of the floor. She’s led the Blue Devils in scoring six times, led the team in rebounds in 10 games and even led in assists once. Williams recorded the first triple-double ever by a Duke freshman and the fifth in school history on Jan. 6 at Wake Forest (18 points, 16 rebounds, 12 blocks). It was only the second in ACC history that included double-digit blocks. She already has 142 rebounds, second-most ever by a Duke first-year player in that few games, and her 61 blocks are second-most by a Duke freshman for an entire season. She’s also 15-1 on jump balls controlled.