Georgia Tech (8-3, 0-1) at UNC (7-3, 1-0)
January 2, 2001, 7:00 p.m.
Chapel Hill, N.C.
The Opening Tip
Georgia Tech hits the road for its first game of 2001 and its second Atlantic Coast Conference game of the season. The Yellow Jackets have won five games in a row, their longest winning streak since the 1996-97 season.
From the Locker Room
Four Yellow Jackets are averaging in double figures in scoring, led by sophomore Niesha Butler’s 16.4 points per game. Butler is second on the team and near the top of the ACC with an .852 free throw percentage. She has made 29 consecutive free throws, dating back to Dec. 8 against Georgia. In that game, she missed her first attempt from the charity stripe before sinking the next 10. Junior Milli Martinez is second on the squad with 13.4 points and leads the Jackets with 8.3 rebounds per game. One of Tech’s most consistent players, Martinez is shooting .472 from the floor and a team-best .862 from the free throw line. She als leads the team with 27 steals and has 29 assists. Sophomore Sonja Mallory captured Georgia Tech/Atlanta Marriott Northwest Holiday Invitational Most Valuable Player honors after scoring a career-high 25 points and grabbing eight rebounds against Fresno State on Saturday. On Friday, she scored a then-career-high 21 points and pulled down nine rebounds. She has scored in double figures in four of the five games in which she has started. She is averaging 13.0 points and 7.0 rebounds per contest. Senior Jaime Kruppa, last year’s leading scorer and rebounder, is averaging 11.3 points and 6.7 rebounds per contest. She has scored in double figures in four-straight games. Sophomore Tamika Boatner is averaging 9.8 points and 5.7 rebounds per game. Sophomore Nina Barlin has started every game at point guard for the Yellow Jackets the last two seasons. She has a 6.7 scoring average and 3.8 rebounding average and is second on the team with 32 assists. Sophomore Alex Stewart leads the team with 38 assists and is second on the squad with 26 steals. She has averaged 6.5 points and 4.2 rebounds per contest.
Scouting North Carolina
North Carolina, which is receiving votes in both the Associated Press and USA TODAY/ESPN polls, enters the game with a 7-3 overall record and a 1-0 conference mark. The Tar Heels have won four-straight games, including their conference opener against Maryland on Dec. 9. Senior LaQuanda Barksdale leads the Heels with 20.4 points per game and 10.8 rebounds per contest, which ranks her second in the conference. Sophomore Coretta Brown is averaging 17.4 points per game and 5.3 rebounds and leads the ACC with 6.6 assists per game. Barksdale and Brown are the top two scorers in the ACC this season. Sylvia Hatchell is 296-149 in her 15th year as head coach at UNC.
The Series with North Carolina
North Carolina leads the all-time series with Georgia Tech 35-9 and has won 17 of the 20 contests at home. Georgia Tech, however snapped UNC’s 13-game series winning streak on Jan. 24, 1999, and has split the four contests since then. The Yellow Jackets have not won in Chapel Hill since defeating the Tar Heels, 83-63, on Feb. 22, 1991.
Head Coach Agnus Berenato
In her 13th season as head coach at Georgia Tech, Agnus Berenato owns a 182-172 (.510) record. Under Berenato’s guidance, the Yellow Jackets have advanced to the NCAA Tournament once and the WNIT twice, including last year. Berenato was named the 2000 GAHPERD College Coach of the Year and was named to Who’s Who in America by Marquis Who’s Who in 1999. Berenato was named the 1992 State of Georgia Division I Coach of the Year by the Atlanta Tip-off Club after leading the Yellow Jackets to the NWIT title. A 1980 graduate of Mount St. Mary’s, Berenato received an honorary doctorate in Humane Letters from her alma mater in 1995. She also became the first alumnus to return to her school as a commencement speaker. Berenato became Georgia Tech’s head coach in 1988 after spending two years as an assistant coach of the Jackets.
The Last Time Out
The Ramblin’ Wreck won the Georgia Tech/Atlanta Marriott Northwest Holiday Invitational Saturday with an 87-56 victory over Fresno State. Sophomore Sonja Mallory captured tournament MVP honors with a career-high 25 points on Saturday, besting her previous career high of 21 points which she scored Friday against St. Francis (Pa.). Sophomore Niesha Butler and junior Milli Martinez scored 13 points apiece and senior Jaime Kruppa added 1 points. All three players joined Mallory on the all-tournament team.
Mallory Earns MVP Honors With Career Tournament
Sophomore Sonja Mallory claimed Most Valuable Player honors at the Georgia Tech/Atlanta Marriott Northwest Holiday Invitational Saturday after a 25-point, eight-rebound, two-blocked shot performance against Fresno State. The 25 points against the Bulldogs were four more than her previous career high, set just one day earlier against St. Francis (Pa.). Mallory, who was seven-from-nine from the field, also had nine rebounds and two blocked shots against the Red Flash and, after entering Saturday’s game with just a 46.9 free throw percentage, Mallory made 11 of her 13 attempts against the Bulldogs. Mallory joins sophomore Tamika Boatner as Tech centers to earn tournament MVP honors this season.
Four Yellow Jackets Earn All-Tournament Honors
Sonja Mallory earned MVP honors at the Georgia Tech/Atlanta Marriott Northwest Holiday Invitational and was joined on the all-tournament team by teammates Jaime Kruppa, Milli Martinez and Niesha Butler. Lindsay Logan of Fresno State and Carla Chesick of St. Francis (Pa.) also were named to the all-tournament team.
Tech Extends Longest Winning Streak in Four Years
Georgia Tech extended its longest winning streak since the 1996-97 season to five games with its win on Saturday against Fresno State. The Yellow Jackets have not won five consecutive games since they won six in a row from Dec. 22, 1996-Jan. 8, 1997.
Yellow Jackets Tie Season Low with 13 Turnovers
The Yellow Jackets tied their season low with just 13 turnovers on Saturday against the Bulldogs. Tech equaled the mark which it set against Cornell on Nov. 24.
Butler Extends Double Figures Scoring Streak
Redshirt sophomore Niesha Butler has scored in double figures in every game this season. During her career at Tech, she has scored in double figures in 39 of her 42 contests. The last game in which she did not score in double figures was against NC State on Nov. 30, 1999, when she tore her ACL just three minutes into the game.
Martinez’ Consistency Paces Yellow Jackets
Junior Milli Martinez has been the Yellow Jackets’ most consistent player this year. She has scored in double figures in nine of the 11 games, including the last three. She also leads Tech from the free throw line with an .862 mark, ranking her consistently near the top of the ACC. Martinez is not just a scoring threat, however. She leads the team and is among conference leaders with 27 steals and is tied for third on the team with 29 assists.
Mallory Streaks to Success
Sonja Mallory, who started the season on the Ramblin Wreck’s bench, has become dominant in the paint. The 6-4 center has scored in double figures in four of the five games since joining the starting lineup on Dec. 17. She also has blocked at least on shot in each of the games as a starter, and has blocked two or more in the last four contests. She leads the team with 14 blocked shots in eight games.
Butler Hits 29 Consecutive Free Throws
Niesha Butler has made 29-straight free throws, dating back to Dec. 8 against Georgia. In that game, she missed her first attempt before hitting her final 10. Butler is second on the team and near the top of the ACC with an .852 mark from the line.
Kruppa Turns Up the Heat
Jaime Kruppa has scored in double figures in four consecutive games and five of the last six contests. The senior forward, who led Georgia Tech in scoring and rebounding last season, scored in doubles figures in just one of the first five games before scoring her season-high 22 points against Georgia on Dec. 8
Pacariz, Ebert Get on the Board
Freshman Jasmina Pacariz scored her first career points on Friday against St. Francis (Pa.). The Sweden native tallied four points in the contest. A day later, junior Ashley Ebert scored her first points of the season with four against Fresno State.
Ramblin’ Wreck Rebounding Machine
Georgia Tech has been dominant on the boards in the last four games. The Ramblin’ Wreck has out-rebounded its opponents 197-96 in the last four contests, and twice set school records for rebounding margin. The Yellow Jackets established a new school record with a plus-33 rebounding margin at Wagner on Dec. 19. Then 10 days laster Tech out-rebounded St. Francis (Pa.), 60-24. Rebounding has been a critical component of the Yellow Jackets’ success this year. Tech is 8-1 in games in which it has out-rebounded its opponents, but 0-2 when it has been out-rebounded. The Yellow Jackets have out-rebounded their opponents in nine of 11 games this season, including the last five.
Yellow Jackets Among ACC Leaders
The Yellow Jackets are well-represented on the ACC Leaders Board. As of Dec. 30, Niesha Butler is third in the conference with 16.7 points per game. Milli Martinez is third in the ACC with a .478 field goal percentage, second with an .862 free throw percentage, fourth with 8.4 rebounds per game and fivth with 2.4 steals per game. As a team, Georgia Tech is second in the conference in scoring offense with 76.6 points per game, second in rebounding offense (44.6), third in rebounding defense (34.1) and first in offensive rebounds per game game (19.0).
Tech Totals 18 Steals Against Georgia State
Georgia Tech tallied 18 steals against the Georgia State Lady Panthers on Nov. 29. Every player who saw action grabbed at least one steal, and Jaime Kruppa, Niesha Butler and Milli Martinez had four apiece. The 18 steals were the most by the Yellow Jackets since Nov. 23, 1999, when Tech stole 24 from Georgia State.
Boatner Claims MVP Honors
Sophomore Tamika Boatner was named Most Valuable Player of the Atlanta Marriott Northwest Classic after averaging 15.5 points and 10.0 rebounds per game. She posted a double-double with 15 points and 14 rebounds in her first career start on Nov. 24, setting new personal bests in both categories. She then scored 16 points and set a career best with two blocked shots against Mount St. Mary’s on Nov. 25.
Three Yellow Jackets Earn All-Tournament Honors
Junior Milli Martinez and redshirt sophomore Niesha Butler joined Tamika Boatner on the Atlanta Marriott Northwest Classic All-Tournament team last weekend. Butler scored a game-high 20 points against Cornell and followed that performance with 12 points against Mount St. Mary’s. Martinez posted a double-double with 18 points and 10 reboounds against the Mountaineers after recording 11 points and eight rebounds against Cornell.
Butler Named Pre-Season Player-of-Year Candidate
For the second-straight year, Tech guard Niesha Butler was selected as one of 30 preseason candidates for the Naismith Player of the Year Award by the Atlanta Tip-Off Club. Butler earned ACC Rookie of the Year honors in 1999 after leading the Jackets with 19.3 points per game and 120 assists. She tore her ACL on Nov. 30 last year and received a medical redshirt.
Butler Tabbed Preseason First Team All-ACC
Niesha Butler was named to the preseason All-ACC team by the media at the ACC Women’s Basketball Media Day in October. She joins North Carolina senior LaQuanda Barksdale, Virginia sophomore Schuye LaRue, Duke senior Georgia Schweitzer and Virginia senior Svetlana Volnaya on the team.
Yellow Jackets Picked Sixth in ACC Preseason Poll
Georgia Tech was picked to finish sixth in the ACC by the conference’s media at the ACC Media Day in Greensboro, N.C., in October. Duke is the preseason favorite, followed by Virginia, North Carolina State, North Carolina and Clemson. Maryland, Florida State and Wake Forest were picked to finish seventh, eighth and ninth, respectively.
Barlin Selected One of Atlanta’s Most Beautiful People
Tech guard Nina Barlin was chosen as one of Atlanta’s 50 Most Beautiful People by Jezebel Magazine. She is featured in the November issue, along with celebrities such as Julia Roberts, Kenny Rogers, Michael Stipe, Dikembe Mutombo and Miss Georgia Patti Dunn.
Yellow Jackets Select Team Captains
The Yellow Jacket players selected team captains for the 2000-01 season. Leading the squad as captains are: senior Jaime Kruppa, sophomoe Alex Stewart and sophomore Niesha Butler.
Georgia Tech Lands One in Early Signing Period
Georgia Tech signed center Eva Kadlecova to a national letter of intent in the early signing period. Kadlecova, a 6-4 post player from the Czech Republic, averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds per gameas a freshman at Genesee Community College in Batavia, N.Y., last season. She was named to the All-Region first team and All-Tournament Team after helping lead her squad to the regionals last year.
Senior F Regina Tate will be out until at least Jan. 13 with a severe stress fracture in her left shin. Tate scored 6.7 points per game last season and was second on the squad with 6.8 rebounds per contest.
A Glance Ahead
The Yellow Jackets return home to face Florida State on Jan. 5 at 7:00 p.m. in a game televised by FOX Sports South. The Seminoles are 9-2 overall and 1-0 in the conference after defeating NC State, 74-70, on Saturday. FSU has won five games ina row and eight of its last nine. Four Seminoles are averaging double figures in scoring, led by Brooke Wyckoff (14.6 ppg) and April Traylor (14.2 ppg, 48 assists). Levys Torres leads the Noles with 10.5 rebounds per game and is third with 10.7 points per contest. Katelyn Vujas has scored 10.6 points per game and is second on the squad with a 6.4 rebounding average.