March 2, 2002
GREENSBORO, N.C. – The fifth-seeded Georgia Tech women’s basketball team was unable to complete a second-half rally and dropped a 60-58 decision to Virginia on a layup by Cavalier senior Telisha Quarles with 1.7 seconds to play sealed the Yellow Jackets’ fate.
The Jackets (15-13) had a chance to win the game at the end, holding the ball with less than 30 seconds remaining. Tech senior Milli Martinez took the ball down the sideline and was trapped by the Virginia (17-11) defense. Her pass attempt to the post was deflected by the Cavaliers’ Brandi Teamer and grabbed by Quarles en route to the winning basket.
“My compliments to Virginia,” said Yellow Jacket head coach Agnus Berenato. “This is why the ACC is a great conference. Debbie (Ryan) did a great job with her team and her team did a great job. As the same time, I want to compliment our team on their effort. We talked about the situation before the free throw. We felt we had a lot of confidence and we knew what we wanted to run. We wanted to run a play for Milli. Virginia did a great job and trapped and that’s when I should have called a timeout. They made a steal and made a great play.”
The game would stay tight the whole way through, as neither team was able to grab more than an eight-point lead in the first half. A jumper by Regina Tate with 15:07 remaining game the Jackets an 8-6 lead, but the Cavaliers answered with their own run shortly thereafter, tying the game at 15-15 with 9:23 to play on a layup by Liz Sahin. Tech answered that rally with another one of its own, taking an eight-point lead at 27-19 on a jumper by Sonja Mallory with 5:47 to play. The Jackets would pull ahead again and settle for a 31-30-intermission advantage. Mallory led all scorers in the first half, finishing the period with 13 points and six rebounds.
Virginia came out firing in the second half, staging a 10-4 run to open the period and claiming a 40-35 advantage with 15:17 to play. Four points from Quarles and three Yellow Jacket turnovers keyed the rally. Tech would not go away, battling back in contest after getting down by as many as seven at 50-43 with 8:02 to play. Six points from Martinez and a jumper by Tamika Boatner knotted the score at 56-56 with 1:31 left in the game. Fallon Stokes’ jumper in the paint with 0:49 to play, gave Tech a 58-56 lead, but Virginia would knot the score again on a jump shot by Brandi Teamer with 0:29 remaining. A missed free throw by Teamer gave the Jackets the ball with the game on the line and set up Teamer’s steal and the eventual bucket by Quarles.
Martinez led all scorers in the game, finishing with 20 points and nine rebounds, as she nearly pulled the Yellow Jackets through in the end. Mallory joined her in double figures, finishing with 14 points and eight rebounds as she fouled out with 6:55 remaining and was plagued by foul trouble most of the second half. Senior Ashley Ebert made just her second start of the year and played solidly at the point for Tech, finishing with six points and six assists.
“We gave her (Ashley Ebert) the start and it’s a dream for someone in their senior year to start in a conference tournament, and she didn’t disappoint us,” said Berenato. “She came ready to play. As for Milli, she played valiantly today and she played like a warrior. Today was a great effort, but it wasn’t good enough.”
Quarles led the Cavaliers with 17 points, while Teamer and Sahin added 10 apiece.
The Yellow Jackets will now await word on a bit to the Women’s National Invitation Tournament, which will announce its field on March 10.