Dec. 1, 2001
Greenville, N.C. – The Georgia Tech women’s basketball team overcame a slow start and pulled away for a 77-52 win over Arkansas State, on the strength of four players in double figure scoring, to advance in the U.S. Cellular Classic in Greenville, N.C. The two-day, four-team event is being hosted by East Carolina University at Minges Coliseum on the ECU campus.
The game opened in close fashion, with both teams trading baskets early and looking to find their rhythm. Arkansas State (3-4) took a 3-0 lead to open the contest, but the Yellow Jackets (4-1) answered with a 4-0 run to claim a 4-3 advantage just 40 seconds into the contest. With the Lady Indians holding a 9-8 lead at the 14:57 mark, Tech went on a 13-2 run to take a 21-11 lead, that was sparked by five points from senior guard Milli Martinez. ASU then closed the margin to just four at 21-17, before Tech steadily pulled away and settled for a 17-point, 41-24 halftime advantage.
“I’m really happy to get the win today,” said Tech head coach Agnus Berenato. “I thought we executed some things very well. Probably the thing that I am most pleased with is that we didn’t let Arkansas State get back in the game because they kept fighting and coming at us the whole game.”
Yellow Jacket junior Sonja Mallory was dominant in the paint in the first stanza, as she scored 12 of her game-high 18 points in the half, on a perfect 6-for-6 shooting performance from the field. As a team the Jackets we outstanding shooting the ball in the first half, hitting 19-of-29 shots for a .655 shooting percentage. Tech was also aided by 14 Arkansas State turnovers.
“We really challenged our post players all week to come out and play well,” said Berenato. “Today, both of them did just that, Sonja Mallory dominated in the first half with 12 points and Regina Tate came out and really stepped it up in the second half.”
In the second half, the Jackets cooled off somewhat from the field, but continued to apply defensive pressure, forcing eight more Indian turnovers, while recording three steals in the period. Tech extended its lead in the game to as much as 25 at 54-29 by the 14:07 mark of the second half, by virtue of a 13-5 run, that included six points from senior forward Regina Tate, and four more from Mallory. ASU was only able to close to within 17 at 62-45 with 7:08 remaining in the contest. The Jackets then pulled away once again, stretching the lead to 27 at 77-50 with 53.3 seconds remaining, before finishing with the final 25-point lead.
Mallory led all scorers in the game with her 18 points, she coupled that with seven rebounds in the contest. Joining Mallory in double figure scoring was Tate, who had 16 points and eight rebounds, along with Martinez, who finished the game with 15 points and two steals. Sophomore Megan Isom rounded out the Tech players in double figures, as she netted 10 points. Junior point guard Nina B?rlin was outstanding distributing the basketball as she recorded the most assists in her career with 14, just two off of Anita Malone’s school record. That total was also the most by a Yellow Jacket in a single game since Tiffany Martin also had 14 helpers against Maryland on January 5, 1995.
Arkansas State was led in the contest by Casie Lowman, who netted a career-high 17 points, that included 4-of-6 shooting from behind the three-point arc. Chiquita Tucker and Rae-Ann Smith joined Lowman in double-digit scoring with 11 points apiece.
Georgia Tech will face Southern University (4-3) in Sunday’s championship game beginning at 4:00 p.m., while Arkansas State will take on the host Pirates of ECU (1-4) in the consolation game, which will tip off at 2:00 p.m.