2001 ACC Tournament
Georgia Tech vs. North Carolina
Friday, March 2, 6:00 p.m.
The Opening Tip
Georgia Tech (14-13, 5-11 Atlantic Coast Conference) enters the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament as the No. 8 seed and will face No. 7 seed North Carolina (14-13, 7-9 ACC) on Friday. The Yellow Jackets won their final two games of the year, defeating Maryland on the road and Wake Forest at home last week. Carolina dropped its final three games, losing to Duke and NC State on the road and Florida State in overtime at home.
From the Locker Room
Four Yellow Jackets are averaging in double figures in scoring, led by sophomore Niesha Butler’s 15.6 points per game. Butler, who tallied 14 points, five rebounds, five assists and two steals on Sunday against Wake Forest, is second on the team with 49 steals. She has scored in double figures in 23 games this season and has led Tech in scoring in 12 contests. She is sixth in the ACC in scoring and eighth in steals. Junior Milli Martinez is second on the squad in scoring (12.8 ppg) and rebounding (6.9 rpg). She is second on the team with an .803 free throw percentage and leads the squad with 54 steals, ranking her fifth in the ACC. Martinez averaged 16.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.5 steals in the Jackets* two victories last week. Sophomore Sonja Mallory led Tech with 18 points, 10 rebounds and three blocked shots against NC State on Feb. 15. She is averaging 10.5 points and 6.8 rebounds per contest. Senior Jaime Kruppa, last year’s leading scorer and rebounder, is averaging 12.0 points and a team-high 7.4 rebounds per game. She has posted two double-doubles in the last three games and recorded 16 points, five rebounds and a blocked shot on Senior Day against Wake Forest. Sophomore Nina Bärlin has started all but two games at point guard during her career and has a 6.0 scoring average, 2.4 rebounding average and 3.2 assists average. She is second on the team with 79 assists and is ninth in the ACC in assist/turnover ratio. Sophomore Alex Stewart is one of just two Tech players to have seen action in every game this year. She recorded just the second triple-double in school history on Jan. 30 with an 11-point, 10-rebound, 11-assist effort. She leads the team with 86 assists and is third with 45 steals. Stewart is averaging 8.0 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.2 assists per contest. Freshman Fallon Stokes has started the last six games. She is averaging 4.0 points and 3.3 rebounds per contest. Sophomore Tamika Boatner is averaging 6.3 points and 4.2 rebounds per game off the bench.
Scouting the Tar Heels
North Carolina is 14-13 overall and 7-9 in the ACC. UNC has lost three games in a row and four of its last five contests. Senior LaQuanda Barksdale, a first-team All-ACC selection, leads the conference in scoring (18.9 ppg) and is second in rebounding (11.6 rpg). Second-team All-ACC honoree sophomore Coretta Brown, is second on the team and fifth in the conference with 16.3 points per game. She leads the ACC with 6.63 assists per contest. Senior Juana Brown is third on the squad with 13.7 points per game. Freshman Candace Sutton is second in the conference in blocked shots with 1.5 per game. She is averaging 9.7 points and 5.6 rebounds per contest. Head coach Sylvia Hatchell owns a 303-159 record in her 15th year in Chapel Hill.
The Series with North Carolina
North Carolina holds a 36-10 series advantage over the Yellow Jackets. The teams split their games this year, with each team winning on the road. Georgia Tech defeated UNC, 82-75, on Jan. 2, the first time the Yellow Jackets had won in Chapel Hill since 1991. The Tar Heels avenged the loss with an 85-63 victory over Tech in Atlanta on Feb. 1.
The Season Series
Georgia Tech 82, North Carolina 75 * Jan. 2, 2001 * Chapel Hill, N.C.
Led by Niesha Butler and Milli Martinez, Georgia Tech ran away from North Carolina, 82-75, in Chapel Hill on Jan. 2. Butler scored a season-high 25 points and Martinez posted a 21-point, 10-rebound, seven-assist performance to lead the Yellow Jackets to their sixth consecutive win and their first in Chapel Hill since 1991. Georgia Tech led by just one point at halftime, but opened up a 17-point margin four times in the second half. The Tar Heels outscored the Yellow Jackets 17-7 in the final three minutes, but it was too little, too late for UNC as Tech held on to the victory. Martinez, who recorded her fourth double-double of the season and tied her career high in assists, tallied 14 points, five assists and seven rebounds after intermission. Butler added 14 of her points in the second period as Tech opened up the game. Sonja Mallory scored 11 of her 15 points in the second half as she scored in double figures for the fifth time in six games as a starter. She also blocked two shots for the fifth consecutive game. Jaime Kruppa grabbed 10 rebounds in the game and added six points, all in the second half. Coretta Brown led UNC with 17 points and eight assists and Juana Brown added 15 points. LaQuanda Barksdale, who entered the game as the ACC’s leading scorer with 20.4 points per game, scored just nine points before fouling out with 8:49 remaining.
North Carolina 85, Georgia Tech 63 * Feb. 1, 2001 * Atlanta, Ga.
North Carolina defeated Georgia Tech, 85-63, Feb. 1 in Atlanta. The Tar Heels, led by Coretta Brown and Juana Brown, kept Georgia Tech off-balance throughout the game and never trailed as head coach Sylvia Hatchell earned her 300th victory at UNC. Coretta Brown recorded 21 points, eight rebounds and six assists and Juana Brown tallied 20 points, nine rebounds and six assists. UNC shot 47 percent from the field while limiting the Yellow Jackets to 31 percent shooting. The *Heels also controlled the boards, out-rebounding Georgia Tech, 50-36. Jaime Kruppa led Tech with 17 points and recorded seven rebounds and two assists. Sophomore Sonja Mallory tallied nine points and had team highs with eight rebounds and two blocked shots. But the inside duo combined to shoot just 38 percent from the field. The Yellow Jackets’ starting shooting guards and top two scorers fared no better. Niesha Butler scored 11 points on 4-of-13 shooting and Milli Martinez scored six points and was 2-of-10 from the field.
Head Coach Agnus Berenato
In her 13th season as head coach at Georgia Tech, Agnus Berenato owns a 188-182 (.508) 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
Georgia Tech finished the regular season with a 79-63 win over Wake Forest on Sunday afternoon at Alexander Memorial Coliseum. Jaime Kruppa led three Tech players with 16 points on Senior Day. Alex Stewart also contributed a career-high 16 points, six rebounds and four assists and Milli Martinez recorded 16 points, six rebounds and two steals. Niesha Butler added 14 points, five rebounds, five assists and two steals. Sonja Mallory contributed eight points, eight rebounds and three blocked shots. Georgia Tech shot 47 percent from the field while limiting the Demon Deacons to 35 percent shooting. The Yellow Jackets out-rebounded the Deacs, 44-34, the 18th time this season Tech has won the battle of the boards. Georgia Tech turned up the intensity on defense in the second half. After holding a 36-29 halftime advantage, the Yellow Jackets pulled away from Wake Forest early in the second stanza. The Demon Deacons scored just four points in the first 8:35 of the second period and were held scoreless for the first five minutes after intermission as Tech opened the half on a 16-4 run. Wake Forest’s Olivia Dardy scored a career-high 27 points and tallied nine rebounds and three steals in the losing effort. Eafton Hill added 16 points and three steals and Kristen Shaffer added 11 points, five rebounds and six assists for the Demon Deacons.
Yellow Jackets in the ACC Tournament
Georgia Tech advanced to the semifinals of the 2000 ACC Tournament after upsetting No. 3 seed NC State, 69-52, in the first round last year. The Yellow Jackets were ousted by No. 2 seed Duke in the semifinals. In 1992, Tech became the lowest-seeded team in ACC Tournament history to qualify for the championship game in 1992 when the seventh-seeded Jackets claimed a pair of one-point victories over nationally-ranked Maryland and Clemson to reach the final. Tech eventually lost to top-ranked Virginia, 70-69, in the championship game. Overall Georgia Tech has compiled a 4-21 record in 21 ACC Tournament appearances.
The Magic Number: 70
Georgia Tech’s magic number during the 2000-01 season has been 70. The Yellow Jackets are 13-2 when scoring at least 70 points this season and 1-11 when scoring fewer than 70. The Jackets* 66-62 win over Maryland on Feb. 22 was their first this season when scoring fewer than 70 points. Tech is 8-3 when holding opponents under 70.
Pacariz Scores Career-High Nine Points at Clemson
With three three-point field goals, freshman Jasmina Pacariz scored a career-high nine points against Clemson on Feb. 19. The 6-1 guard sank three treys in the final three minutes of action to help the Yellow Jackets break out of a scoring slump. She finished the game three-for-five from behind the arc, scoring nine of Tech’s final 11 points. She also recorded one blocked shot against the Lady Tigers.
Mallory Leads ACC in Blocked Shots
With 39 blocked shots, sophomore Sonja Mallory leads the Atlantic Coast Conference. Her 1.62 blocked shots per game rank her just ahead of North Carolina freshman Candace Sutton, who is averaging 1.46 blocks per game.
Kruppa Finishes Regular-Season Play in Style
Jaime Kruppa finished the last week of regular-season play in her career in style and earned All-ACC honorable mention by the Atlantic Coast Sports Writers Association. The senior from Lithonia, Ga., recorded two double-doubles last week and tied for the team-high in scoring in her regular-season finale. On Feb. 19, Kruppa posted a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds at Clemson on Feb. 19 and another one with 16 points and 10 rebounds at Maryland on Feb. 22. On Feb. 25, Kruppa scored 16 points to help lead the Yellow Jackets to victory on Senior Day.
Butler Earns All-ACC Honors
Sophomore Niesha Butler was named a third-team All-ACC selection by the Atlantic Coast Sports Writers Association this week. The 5-8 guard leads Georgia Tech and is sixth in the ACC with 15.6 points per game. She is second on the squad and seventh in the conference with 49 steals. Butler, who missed most of last season with a torn ACL returned to the form that made her the 1999 ACC Rookie of the Year. She has scored in double figures 23 times and had 20 or more points seven times. She needs 20 points to become just the third player in program history to score 1,000 points in just her second full year. Milli Martinez and Jaime Kruppa earned honorable mention All-ACC honors.
Martinez Keeps Jackets Buzzing
Junior Milli Martinez has been a reliable fixture in the Yellow Jacket lineup this season. She earned All-ACC honorable mention accolades this week by the Atlantic Coast Sports Writers Association. She leads the team in steals (54), is second in rebounds (6.9 rpg), scoring (12.7 ppg) and free throw percentage (.803) and third in assists (67). She has scored in double figures in 21 games. Martinez has posted five double-doubles, led Tech in rebounding eight times and assists five times. She scored 20 points against Virginia on Feb. 8, the fourth 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.
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 60 percent of the team’s scoring, 66 percent of the assists and 58 percent of the minutes played. Sophomore Niesha Butler leads the team in scoring (15.6 ppg); sophomore Alex Stewart leads the team with 86 assists. Sophomore Sonja Mallory leads the Yellow Jackets in blocked shots (39) and field goal percentage (.537). All five sophomores — Butler, Stewart, Mallory, Nina Bärlin and Tamika Boatner — have started at least three games and are averaging at least 19 minutes of action per contest. The 78 starts by Tech sophomores are the most in the ACC, 32 more than any other school’s sophomore class.
Tech Atop ACC in Rebounding Margin, Offensive Rebounds
With a plus-5.4 rebounding margin, Georgia Tech ranks first in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Yellow Jackets have out-rebounded opponents in 18 games this year, and are 13-5 in those contests. Tech is 1-8 when being out-rebounded. 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 16.62 per contest.
Stokes Shines in Starting Role
Freshman Fallon Stokes stepped into a starting job Feb. 8 and made her presence known. The 5-10 forward scored eight points and established a new career high with 11 rebounds against Virginia. She grabbed two huge offensive rebounds off of missed free throws and sank two free throws in the final minute to help the Yellow Jackets preserve their first-ever victory in Charlottesville. She has started the last six games, averaging 5.5 points and 6.0 rebounds per contest. Stokes also excelled in her first career start, setting a career high with 12 points against Charleston Southern on Jan. 30.
Mallory Emerges as an Inside Force
Sonja Mallory has emerged as a powerful force under the basket. She leads the ACC with 1.62 blocked shots per game and with 56 career blocked shots, she is already 10th in Tech’s career records book. With one more blocked shot, she will move into a ninth place tie with Lara Kauffman, who had 57 from 1989-93. Mallory is averaging 10.5 points and 6.8 rebounds per game and ranks among conference leaders in both categories. She has scored in double figures 11 times and has posted four double-doubles. Mallory has blocked three or more shots in seven games, including three of the last four.
Stewart Dazzles with Triple-Double
With 11 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists against Charleston Southern on Jan. 30, 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.
Tech Sets Season Low with 7 Turnovers against NC State
The Yellow Jackets established a new season low with just seven turnovers against NC State on Feb. 15. The mark, just one more than the school record, is the fewest for the Jackets since Dec. 29, 1999, when Tech had seven turnovers against Western Michigan.
Jackets Earn First-Ever Win in Charlottesville
Georgia Tech snapped a six-game conference losing streak with its 87-70 win over Virginia in Charlottesville on Feb. 8. The win, Tech’s first in 21 attempts in Charlottesville, gave the Yellow Jackets their first series sweep of the Cavaliers. Georgia Tech defeated UVA 70-65 in Atlanta on Jan. 7.
Dishin’ the Rock
The Yellow Jackets, led by Alex Stewart’s 11 assists, recorded a season-high 23 assists against Charleston Southern on Jan. 30. 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.
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 Tech with an .807 free throw percentage and 86 assists and is third with 45 steals. Stewart is averaging 8.0 points per game and is the Ramblin* Wreck’s best player at penetrating opposing defenses. Although she generally does not start (she has four 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 off the bench.
Yellow Jackets Among ACC Leaders
The Yellow Jackets are well-represented on the ACC Leader Board. Niesha Butler is sixth in the conference with 15.6 points per game, eighth with 1.88 steals per contest and eighth with a .720 free throw percentage. Milli Martinez is tied for seventh with 6.9 rebounds per game, fourth in the conference with 3.37 offensive rebounds per contest and fifth with 2.00 steals per game. Jaime Kruppa ranks fifth in the conference with 7.4 rebounds per game and 5.08 defensive rebounds per contest and is fifth with a .746 free throw percentage. Nina Bärlin is ninth in assist/turnover ratio (1.16). Sonja Mallory leads the ACC with 1.62 blocked shots per game, is eighth with 6.8 rebounds per contest and sixth with 2.71 offensive rebounds per game. Alex Stewart is fifth in the conference in assist/turnover ratio (1.28) and 10th with 3.19 assists per game. As a team, Georgia Tech leads the ACC with a plus-5.4 rebounding margin and 16.59 offensive rebounds per game. Tech is second in the ACC in rebounding offense (41.4 pg).
Kruppa Tackles Nation’s Elite
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 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 21 games this season and has reached the 20-point mark seven times.
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. On Feb. 8, the Yellow Jackets once again toppled Virginia, earning their first-ever win in Charlottesville, 87-70.
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 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.
Bärlin Selected One of Atlanta’s Most Beautiful People
Tech guard Nina Bärlin 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.
Senior forward 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.