ATLANTA (Dec. 6) — Fresh off an 81-62 Atlantic Coast Conference win against Clemson, Georgia Tech looks to maintain its level of play in a pair of non-conference tests before the Yellow Jackets break for 10 days for final exams.
Tech (4-1 overall, 1-1 ACC) takes on Charleston Southern (3-4 overall) at 7 p.m. Tuesday and Mississippi State (6-0) at 7 p.m. Thursday in a game that can be seen live on FOX Sports Net South.
Mississippi State’s 6-0 start includes a 74-72 win against then second-ranked Louisiana Tech in Starkville, Miss.
“This is a huge week for us,” said Tech head coach Agnus Berenato. “We feel this is our most important week. Up until Saturday, I thought the Clemson game was our most important game, and we were able to come out victorious. It was a great team effort, and we played with tremendous team spirit, intensity and work ethic. We need to continue that both Tuesday and Thursday nights.”
“We have a very good Charleston Southern team and an awesome SEC opponent in Mississippi State coming in this week.”
Tech’s win against Clemson came without sophomore leading scorer Niesha Butler (New York, N.Y.), who learned earlier in the week that she will miss the remainder of the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee, suffered early on in Techs game with sixth-ranked NC State last Tuesday.
“I think the team gave a little extra effort for Niesha Butler,” Berenato said. “We had a lot of different people step up.”
Sophomore Milli Martinez (Imlay City, Mich.), starting in place of Butler, scored eight points and had a career-high 11 rebounds, and freshman point guard Nina Brlin (Katrineholm, Sweden) helpd picked up some of the scoring slack with a career-high 14 points, nine more than her average entering the game.
“Nina Brlin really picked up her game,” Berenato said. “Coming in, she knew she had to score some points. She took the three with ease, and she is capable of doing that, which shows she’s really coachable.
“We have great chemistry and right now we have a goal and are trying to stay focused on our goal which is Y2K NCAA.”
Georgia Tech is 1-0 all-time against Charleston Southern as Tech took a 87-64 win against the Buccaneers on Nov. 28, 1997 in the only other meeting between the two schools.
The Yellow Jackets and Mississippi State are meeting for the first time in women’s basketball.
TECH ON TV
Thursday night’s game with Mississippi State will be the first of six televised contests for the Yellow Jackets this season which can be seen live on FOX Sports Net South at 7 p.m.
In addition to Thursday*s match-up, Tech has three television contests in January and two more in February. Tech*s games at Florida State (Jan. 16), at Maryland (Jan. 23), at Clemson (Jan. 31) and home games with Virginia (Feb. 3) and Wake Forest (Feb. 6) will all be televised.
HOLIDAY HOOPLA PROMOTION SET FOR MISSISSIPPI STATE GAME
Georgia Tech’s women’s basketball team, in conjunction with three local children’s charities, will sponsor a Holiday Hoopla promotion for the Yellow Jackets game with Mississippi State at 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 9.
Any fan donating a new or used toy at the gate will receive free admission to the game. In addition, the first 1,500 toy donors will receive a coupon for Mayfield Dairy Ice Cream.
The toy donations will benefit Project Prevent, My House and Family Links. For more information on these programs call (404) 876-1337.
BUTLER TO MISS REMAINDER OF SEASON
Georgia Tech’s Niesha Butler (New York, N.Y.) will miss the remainder of the 1999-2000 women’s basketball season after an MRI exam revealed the sophomore guard tore the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in her left knee during the Yellow Jackets’ Atlantic Coast Conference opener with NC State last Tuesday.
The exam also revealed a partial tear of Butler*s medial collateral ligament (MCL) and damage to her meniscus, the cartilage between the bone in the knee.
Butler will undergo two to three weeks of rehabilitation and then undergo surgery after swelling in the knee subsides. Doctors expect a full and complete recovery.
She injured her knee while driving to the basket just two minutes and 42 seconds into Tech’s game with sixth-ranked NC State. Butler, the 1999 ACC Rookie of the Year and a preseason first-team all-ACC choice this season, was averaging 13.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. She entered the NC State game averaging 17.0 points and 5.3 rebounds.
STILL Y2K NCAA
Despite losing sophomore guard and leading scorer Niesha Butler (New York, N.Y.), Georgia Tech’s goal of qualifying for the NCAA Tournament remains unchanged.
“Losing Niesha Butler is devastating, but our goal of making the NCAA Tournament will not change,” said Tech head coach Agnus Berenato. “That’s why I coach a team sport. One individual doesn’t make the team, it just gives someone else to step up and make something happen. As one of our co-captains, Niesha still has a tremendous responsibility to the team to be a leader and help see our goal fulfilled.”
BRLIN BREAKS OUT
Freshman point guard Nina Brlin (Katrineholm, Sweden) helped offset the loss of sophomore Niesha Butler (New York, N.Y.) by picking up her scoring in the Yellow Jackets 81-62 win over Clemson in Tech’s first game without their leading scorer.
Brlin entered the Clemson game averaging 5.0 points per game, but scored nine points higher than her average with a career-high 14 points against the Lady Tigers. She was 5-of-7 from the floor, including 3-of-4 from 3-point range. Even with the added offense, Barlin still managed to better her 3.8 assists per game average with six.
“I will do whatever it takes for us to get a win,” Barlin said following Tech’s Clemson win. “If that means scoring, shooting, passing or rebounding, I’ll do it. I knew we’re missing about 17 points and someone had to have it. I really don’t look for a shot before I pass. I always look for the pass before I shoot. Everybody told me today, “Nina, you’ve got to shoot.” So I went out there and I shot.”
CRASHING THE BOARDS
Georgia Tech’s +15 rebound margin in its 81-62 win over Clemson was the Yellow Jackets’ highest rebounding margin against an ACC opponent since outrebounding Florida State by 19 on Jan. 22, 1997. The Yellow Jackets outrebounded the Lady Tigers 43-28 overall and had a 20-10 advantage on the offensive end. Tech’s 20 offensive boards helped the Jackets to 11 second-chance points.