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Sweet & Sour: Tough losses leave Tech on edge of ACC royalty

Feb. 4, 2011

By Matt Winkeljohn
Sting Daily

– Having seen the “Dog-ate-my-homework” deal made real this week, I can’t get shake it. The image of No. 24 Georgia Tech losing Thursday night to No. 10 Maryland on a buzzer beater is no easier to purge.

In my view, there were similarities between the family bowser eating most of my daughter’s science project and the women’s basketball team taking two straight wrenching losses to ranked teams.

Roni fashioned a model of a plant cell using Jujyfruits, Twizzlers (licorice), Jujubes, Sour Patches and sour apple rings to make (not in this order) mitochondria, vacuoles, chloroplast and I don’t know what all.

Rupert loves him some mitochondria, vacuoles and chloroplast, especially when they’re still soft. Since they were on a low table – within reach of canis gnuklhedimus – the Queenslander in Rupert could not resist. His basic instinct is rogue, and candy increases his willingness to take risks.

Similarly, the Jackets left a piece of low fruit in range for Maryland to snatch Thursday in AMC.

My daughters and I were there as fans. Tori and Roni wore gold and white. Loud and proud, Tori was flinging nicknames. She kept referring to Maryland coach Brenda Frese as Brownie McFrownie.

The Jackets and their fans wore frowns at the end.

At the very bitter tail of an entertaining night – which fell over us indoors when the lights went out with 2:12 left, and we waited for them to warm up again – the game was tied when the ball went out of bounds with 1.0 seconds on the clock.

After a conference and input from Brownie McFrownie, officials adjusted the clock to 1.7 seconds.

A few timeouts were used, angst was in the air, and finally Maryland’s Anjale Barrett took the ball to inbound from the baseline off the right edge of the backboard.

It felt like a movie sequence, in semi-slow motion. I looked alternately at the baseline official’s waving hand count and at the Jackets defending the Terrapins as they all seemed to be within 12 feet or so of Barrett. It was a cluster.

Toggling my eyes back and forth, I saw Tech do an exquisite job of jamming the paint and therefore all close-range potential shots. The receiver would, after all, have just enough time to gather before shooting. No dribbles. No secondary passes.

Not sure if my heart was beating or not, but I remember thinking between the three- and four-counts that the Jackets might force a call – a five-second count. It would have been Maryland’s 27th turnover. That would’ve likely meant overtime with the 10th-ranked Terrapins, and a chance to put Tech’s overtime loss Sunday at No. 18 Miami further in the rear view.

That would’ve been especially rewarding since Maryland held a nine-point lead late in the first half, when the Jackets had a bear of a time cracking the Terrapins’ zone.

Alex Montgomery, Ty Marshall and the gals battled back in the second half, and led 50-45 when Montgomery crashed to the floor saving a loose ball. She left the game wincing with 3:58 to go, and Tech failed to beat the shot clock a few moments later. Montgomery returned 20 seconds later, but Tech’s mojo seemed askew thereafter. Now, fast forward to the final 1.7 . . .

Zip! There went the ball, way over to the left corner, in front of Maryland’s bench. I’ve no idea how Kim Rodgers got there. I don’t know if she set up there to begin with, or somehow played sneaky. As my eyes traced the excellent pass to the shooter, there was nothing between Rodgers and the gaggle of players in the paint. Nothing but space.

No Jackets.

As the ball hit Rodgers’ hands, there wasn’t a Tech player within 15 feet or so. After the game, Tech coach MaChelle Joseph said that on an inbound play like that, if you (a defender) are not touching an opponent, you’re doing something wrong. Perhaps every Jacket was touching a Terrapin as the ball left Barrett’s hands. I haven’t seen a replay, but maybe there was a double-team going on – four defenders marking three in the paint with the fifth on the inbounder.

Whatever.

Rodgers, by far Maryland’s best shooter – she’s attempted more than one third of her team’s 3-point shots this season (96 of 254) and 60 more than her nearest teammate — took a rhythm trey, and swished it as time expired. The Terps won 56-53 on just their second long ball of the game.

The Terps still lag the entire ACC with 67 treys made on the season so they are clearly not predisposed to shooting from deep, but in hindsight the Jackets should’ve kept an eye open for a shooter leaking out.

Rupert left cardboard, most of the rubber cement and pipe cleaners (he had no use for cell membrane, apparently).

If Maryland left anything for the Jackets, I guess it would be the knowledge that Tech appears to be on the edge of upper class citizenry in the ACC.

Duke (21-1, 7-0 ACC) is undisputed royalty. The sixth-place Jackets (18-7, 6-3) have beaten North Carolina (20-3, 6-2). They were a basket here or there away from beating Miami (20-3, 6-2) and Maryland (19-3, 5-2).

Had they won those, they’d be alone in second.

I took Roni to Target re-stock. She re-built her cell.

The Jackets start again next Friday at Florida State (18-5, 6-2).

Rupert? He’d better sleep with one eye open, or he might get shot (metaphorically speaking) as did the Jackets.

If you were there, drop a line to stingdaily@gmail.com.

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