Georgia Tech (11-8, 2-6 ACC) vs. North Carolina (10-9, 4-5 ACC)
Thursday, February 1, 2001, 7:00 p.m.
Atlanta, Ga., Alexander Memorial Coliseum (10,000)
The Opening Tip
Georgia Tech (11-8, 2-6 Atlantic Coast Conference) tips off the second half of the ACC slate against North Carolina on Thursday. The Yellow Jackets defeated Charleston Southern in their final non-conference game of the season Tuesday behind Alex Stewart’s first career triple-double. The Tar Heels enter the game 10-9 overall and 4-5 in the ACC after dropping their last three games.
From the Locker Room
Four Yellow Jackets are averaging in double figures in scoring, led by sophomore Niesha Butler’s 16.9 points per game. Butler, who also leads the team with 40 steals, has scored in double figures in all but one game this season and has led Tech in scoring in nine contests. She tallied a career-high eight steals and a season-best eight rebounds at Wake Forest last Thursday. Junior Milli Martinez leads the team with 7.8 rebounds per game and is second on the squad with 12.9 points per game and 38 steals. Martinez is second on the squad with an .816 mark from the free throw line and is shooting 42.4 percent from the field, ranking her eighth in the conference. Sophomore Sonja Mallory scored a game-high 21 points and pulled down a career-best 15 rebounds on Tuesday against Charleston Southern. She is averaging 11.1 points and 6.4 rebounds per contest and leads the team with 22 blocked shots. Mallory captured Georgia Tech/Atlanta Marriott NW Holiday Invitational MVP honors Dec. 29-30 after averaging 23 points and 8.5 rebounds in two games. Senior Jaime Kruppa, last year’s leading scorer and rebounder, is averaging 12.3 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. She scored a career-high 28 points and grabbed 10 rebounds against fifth-ranked Duke on Jan. 11. Sophomore Nina Brlin has started all but one game at point guard during her career and has a 5.6 scoring average and 3.1 rebounding average. She is second on the team with 58 assists. Sophomore Alex Stewart, the first player off the Tech bench, recorded just the second triple-double in school history on Tuesday with an 11-point, 10-rebound, 11-assist effort. She leads the team with 67 assists and is third with 37 steals. Stewart has scored in double figures in five of the last seven games and is averaging 8.2 points and 4.5 rebounds per contest. Sophomore Tamika Boatner is averaging 7.6 points and 5.2 rebounds per game.
Scouting the Tar Heels
North Carolina, which enters Thursday’s contest with a three-game losing streak, is 10-9 overall and 4-5 in the ACC. The Tar Heels lost to Maryland, 55-53, in College Park on Sunday after falling to fourth-ranked Duke in overtime on Thursday. Senior LaQuanda Barksdale leads the conference in both scoring (19.2 ppg) and rebounding (11.5 rpg). Sophomore Coretta Brown leads the ACC in assists (6.21 pg) and freshman Candace Sutton is fourth in the ACC with 1.11 blocked shots per contest. Head coach Sylvia Hatchell, with a 299-155 record in 15 years at UNC, is looking for her 300th career win with the ‘Heels. She owns a 571-235 overall record in 26 years as a head coach.
The Series with North Carolina
North Carolina leads the all-time series with Georgia Tech 35-10. The Yellow Jackets, however, have won three of the last five games, including an 82-75 victory over the Tar Heels in Chapel Hill on Jan. 2. In that game, Niesha Butler scored a season-high 25 points and Milli Martinez recorded 21 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists. UNC holds a 14-6 advantage over the Jackets in Atlanta.
Head Coach Agnus Berenato
In her 13th season as head coach at Georgia Tech, Agnus Berenato owns a 185-177 (.511) 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
Sophomore Alex Stewart recorded her first career triple-double, leading Georgia Tech to a 94-65 win over Charleston Southern on Tuesday night. Stewart tallied 11 points, 10 rebounds and a career-high 11 assists in 26 minutes of action off the bench. Stewart’s performance was only the second triple-double in school history, joining former Yellow Jacket standout Kisha Ford’s 33-point, 13-rebound, 10-assist effort on Feb. 13, 1995. Paced by Stewart and sophomore Sonja Mallory (21 points, career-high 15 rebounds), the Yellow Jackets shot 51 percent from the field and fought off Charleston Southern. The Lady Buccaneers shot 50 percent from the field in the first half and hit 7-of-10 three-point baskets in the first stanza to keep the game close. But after leading by just five at halftime, Tech stepped up its intensity in the second period. Charleston Southern shot just 30 percent from the field in the second half. Tech received a solid all-around effort, with several players turning in career-best performances. Freshman Fallon Stokes scored a career-high 13 points in her first career start. Junior Ashley Ebert established a season best with seven points.
Stewart Dazzles with Triple-Double
With 11 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists against Charleston Southern on Tuesday, sophomore Alex Stewart recorded the first triple-double of her career. With 10 assists, 10 rebounds and nine points already, the 5-5 guard scored on a layup with 3:44 remaining to accomplish the rare feat. Stewart is the first player in ACC history to record a triple-double off the bench. She joins former Yellow Jacket standout Kisha Ford (33 points, 13 rebounds, 10-assists on Feb. 13, 1995) as just the second Tech player to tally a triple-double.
Super Sophomores Show Strength
The Georgia Tech sophomore class is the foundation of the Yellow Jacket squad this season. The Yellow Jacket quintet is accounting for 62 percent of the team’s scoring, 66 percent of the assists and 60 percent of the minutes played. Sophomore Niesha Butler leads the team in scoring (16.9 ppg); sophomore Alex Stewart leads the squad in assists (67), just ahead of classmate Nina Brlin (58). Sophomore Sonja Mallory leads the Yellow Jackets in blocked shots (22). All five sophomores — Butler, Stewart, Brlin, Mallory and Tamika Boatner — have started at least three games and are averaging at least 21 minutes of action per contest.
The Magic Number: 70
Georgia Tech’s magic number during the 2000-01 season has been 70. The Yellow Jackets are 11-2 when scoring at least 70 points this season and 0-6 when scoring fewer than 70 .
Tech Atop ACC in Rebounding Margin, Offensive Rebounds
With a plus-7.8 rebounding margin, Georgia Tech ranks first in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Yellow Jackets have out-rebounded opponents in 14 of 19 games this year, and are 10-4 in those contests. The Ramblin’ Wreck has twice set school records for rebounding margin this season. The Yellow Jackets established a new school record with a plus-33 rebounding margin at Wagner on Dec. 19. Then 10 days later Tech out-rebounded St. Francis (Pa.), 60-24. Tech is also atop the ACC in offensive rebounds per game with 17.26 per contest.
Dishin’ the Rock
The Yellow Jackets, led by Alex Stewart’s 11 assists, recorded a season-high 23 assists against Charleston Southern on Tuesday. The last time Tech recorded at least 23 assists in a game was on Dec. 29, 1999, when the Jackets had 23 against Western Michigan.
Butler On Pace to Reach 1,000 Points
Redshirt sophomore Niesha Butler has scored 322 points this season, keeping her on track to join the 1,000 Point Club this year. Butler has 896 career points and could become just the third player in school history to reach the 1,000-point plateau in her second full season. Butler, who is averaging 16.9 points per game, needs to average 13.0 points per contest during the final eight games of the regular season to reach 1,000 points.
Stokes Makes Most of First Career Start
Freshman Fallon Stokes made the most of her first career start on Tuesday, setting a career high with 12 points against Charleston Southern. The 5-10 forward also recorded four assists and two steals.
Career Bests Mark Mallory’s Steady Improvement
Sonja Mallory turned in one of the best performances of her career on Tuesday against Charleston Southern. The 6-4 sophomore scored 21 points and grabbed a career-high 15 rebounds. On Jan. 30 Mallory set a new career high with four blocked shots against Wake Forest. Her 22 blocked shots are the highest season total since 1997-98 and give her 39 in her career. Mallory needs just three blocked shots to pass Marielle Walker on Tech’s career blocked shots list.
Martinez Keeps Jackets Buzzing
Junior Milli Martinez, the only Tech player to start in every contest this season, has been a reliable fixture in the Yellow Jacket lineup. Martinez leads the team in rebounds (7.8 rpg) is second in scoring (12.9 ppg), free throw percentage (.816) and steals (38), and is third in assists (53). She has scored in double figures in 15 of Tech’s 19 games. Martinez has posted five double-doubles, led Tech in rebounding eight times and assists five times. She scored 20 points against Duke on Jan. 11, the third time this season she has reached that mark. On Jan. 2 against North Carolina, Martinez tied her season high with 21 points and equaled her career high with seven assists. She also grabbed 10 rebounds and had just one turnover as she helped lead the Yellow Jackets to their first victory in Chapel Hill since 1991.
Butler Sets Career High with Eight Steals against Demon Deacons
Niesha Butler set a career high with eight steals against Wake Forest on Jan. 25, tying the third-most in a single game at Tech. Bonnie Tate holds the Yellow Jackets’ single game record with 11 against Spelman on Feb. 15, 1977.
Stewart Sparks Tech
Sophomore Alex Stewart, Tech’s first player off the bench, has provided a spark for the Yellow Jackets this season. She leads the Yellow Jackets with 67 assists and is third on the team with 37 steals. Stewart is averaging 8.2 points per game and is the Ramblin’ Wreck’s best player at penetrating opposing defenses. Stewart is shooting a team-best .844 from the free throw line. She is fifth in the ACC with a 1.31 assist/turnover ratio, seventh in assists (3.53 pg) and 10th in steals (1.95). Although she generally does not start (she has three starts this season), Stewart has played more minutes than all but three players on the team. A team captain and Tech’s representative on the Student-Athlete Advisory Board, Stewart led the Yellow Jackets to victory over Charleston Southern on Jan. 30 with her first career triple-double. The 5-5 guard recorded 11 points, 10 rebounds and a career-high 11 assists in 26 minutes of action on the business.
Yellow Jackets Among ACC Leaders
The Yellow Jackets are well-represented on the ACC Leader Board. Niesha Butler is fourth in the conference with 16.9 points per game and seventh with a .731 free throw percentage. Milli Martinez is fifth with 7.8 rebounds per game and leads the conference with 3.79 offensive rebounds per contest. Her 4.00 defensive rebounds per game rank her 10th in the ACC. Martinez is tied for eighth with 2.00 steals per game and eighth with a .424 field goal percentage. Jaime Kruppa ranks sixth in the conference with 7.3 rebounds per game and is 10th with a .710 free throw percentage. Alex Stewart is fifth in assist/turnover ratio (1.31), seventh in assists (3.53 per game) and 10th in steals (1.95 per game). Nina Brlin is seventh in assist/turnover ratio (1.14) and ninth in assists (3.22 per game). Sonja Mallory ranks second in the ACC with 1.38 blocked shots per game. As a team, Georgia Tech leads the ACC with a plus-7.8 rebounding margin and 17.26 offensive rebounds per game. Tech is second in the ACC in rebounding offense (42.7 pg) and third in rebounding defense (34.9) and scoring offense (76.0 ppg).
Kruppa Comes Up Big in ‘Big’ Games
Jaime Kruppa scored a career-high 28 points and pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds to lead Georgia Tech against fifth-ranked Duke on Jan. 11. In two games against top-five teams this season, Kruppa is averaging 25 points, 10 rebounds and 1.5 blocked shots.
Butler Named ACC Player of the Week
After leading Georgia Tech to victories over North Carolina and Virginia, Niesha Butler was named the ACC’s Women’s Basketball Player of the Week on Jan. 8 by conference media. Butler, a 5-8 guard who garnered seven ACC Rookie of the Week awards as a freshman in 1998-99, was the first Georgia Tech player to be named ACC Player of the Week since Kenya Williams on Nov. 23, 1998. Butler averaged 19.3 points per game as the Yellow Jackets faced league foes North Carolina, Florida State and Virginia and finished 2-1 on the week. The New York, N.Y., native finished the week 25-52 from the floor (.442), including 4-9 from behind the three-point arc, and 8-11 from the free throw line. She scored a game-high 25 points in Georgia Tech’s 82-75 victory over UNC, the first win for Tech in Carmichael Auditorium since 1991. In the Jackets’ victory over No. 25 Virginia, Butler tallied 22 points to lead Georgia Tech to its first victory over the Cavaliers since 1997. Butler has scored in double figures in every game this season and has reached the 20-point mark seven times, including in three of the last five games.
Tech Knocks Off Tar Heels, Cavaliers
Georgia Tech knocked off North Carolina and Virginia Jan. 2 and Jan. 7, the first time the Yellow Jackets have defeated the Tar Heels and the Cavaliers in the same year since 1988-89, head coach Agnus Berenato’s first year at the helm of the program. Tech defeated North Carolina 82-75 on Jan. 2, the Ramblin’ Wreck’s first win in Chapel Hill since 1991. Then just five days later, Tech handed No. 25 Virginia its first conference loss of the season, 70-65.
Jackets Set Season Low with 12 Turnovers against FSU
The Yellow Jackets set a season low with just 12 turnovers against Florida State on Jan. 5. The last time Tech committed fewer than 12 turnovers was March 5, 2000, against Duke.
Mallory Earns MVP Honors With Career Tournament
Sophomore Sonja Mallory claimed MVP honors at the Georgia Tech/Atlanta Marriott Northwest Holiday Invitational Dec. 30 after averaging 23 points and 8.5 rebounds per game against St. Francis (Pa.) and Fresno State. She scored a career-high 21 points against the Red Flash on Dec. 29 and then bettered that mark with a 25 points against the Bulldogs on Dec. 30, making 11 of her 13 free throw attempts against Fresno State. Mallory joins sophomore Tamika Boatner as Tech centers to earn tournament MVP honors this season.
Four Yellow Jackets Earn All-Tournament Honors at Holiday Inv.
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 Totals 18 Steals Against Georgia State
Georgia Tech tallied 18 steals against Georgia State 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 Named to All-Tournament Team
Junior Milli Martinez and redshirt sophomore Niesha Butler joined Tamika Boatner on the Atlanta Marriott Northwest Classic All-Tournament team Nov. 24-25. 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 rebounds 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.
Brlin Selected One of Atlanta’s Most Beautiful People
Tech guard Nina Brlin was chosen as one of Atlanta’s 50 Most Beautiful People by Jezebel Magazine. She was 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, sophomore Alex Stewart and sophomore Niesha Butler.
Senior F Regina Tate had surgery on Jan. 19 to repair a severe stress fracture in her left shin and will redshirt this season. Tate scored 6.7 points per game last season and was second on the squad with 6.8 rebounds per contest.
On Deck: Feb. 5 at Florida State
After a two-game homestand, Georgia Tech travels to Tallahassee for a rematch with Florida State. The Seminoles (12-7, 4-5 ACC) stole a one-point victory from the Yellow Jackets on Jan. 5 in Atlanta. Senior Brooke Wyckoff leads FSU with 15.1 points per game and is first in the ACC with 1.67 blocked shots per contest. Senior Levys Torres is second in the conference with 9.4 rebounds per game.