March 4, 2011
GREENSBORO, N.C. – It should be no surprise that in a year when the Georgia Tech women’s basketball team set or tied a variety of school wins records, it would rise to the occasion and claim yet another first for the program.
The Yellow Jackets have never played in consecutive ACC semifinal games.
That changed on Friday as the Yellow Jackets (23-9, 9-5 ACC) beat the 13th-ranked and fourth-seeded Maryland Terrapins (23-7, 9-5 ACC), 70-64, in an ACC quarterfinal game at the Greensboro Coliseum. The Jackets now await the winner of the No. 1 seed Duke versus the No. 9 seed Wake Forest game.
Last season, the fourth seeded Yellow Jackets lost to top seeded Duke, 67-55, in the semifinals. No matter who the opponent is on Saturday, Tech will be trying to advance to only its second ACC title game and first since 1992, a year in which the Jackets beat the Terrapins in the quarterfinals.
“First of all I’m very proud of my team, but I want to give a lot of credit to the Maryland team,” head coach MaChelle Joseph said. “I thought they played extremely hard on both ends. They’re one of the best rebounding teams in the country, and for us to out-rebound them says a lot about the heart and hustle of this team.
“I was really pleased with the way we came out and jumped on them in the second half; weathered a storm,” Joseph added. “They got a nine point lead and we came back. We were resilient. One of the things we’ve worked hard on all year long is to be ready to win against a top 20, top 15 team. For it to come together, today, here, is really special for this team. We think we have one of the best backcourts in the ACC, but one of the things we’ve been lacking is an interior game. Today Sasha Goodlett stepped up huge for us on the inside. When we have an inside-outside balance, we can be pretty tough to beat. Today you saw what Georgia Tech can be when we have that balance inside.”
Junior center Sasha Goodlett tallied a game-high 18 points including a great move to get around Maryland post Lynetta Kizer for a layup. Goodlett also pulled down nine rebounds from the block. Senior Alex Montgomery began the game struggling from the field, but stepped up and knocked down some big shots when her team needed her to. The Tacoma, Wash., native finished with 17 points.
ACC All-Freshman Team member Tyaunna Marshall came off the bench for the second time at the ACC Tournament to tally 16 points, while point guard Metra Walthour added 14. Senior Deja Foster finished with only two points, but grabbed a game- and season-high 10 rebounds.
After a big win in the first round of the tournament, the Yellow Jackets knew they would be in a for a battle against the 13th-ranked Terrapins, and the first half proved why the two teams tied for fourth in the ACC regular season as there were six ties and 12 lead changes in the opening 20 minutes of play.
Over the first 15 minutes of the game, neither the Yellow Jackets nor the Terrapins were able to claim a lead bigger than two. After Maryland grabbed a 19-17 lead with 6:17 to play in the opening frame, Georgia Tech went on an 11-0 run to give Tech a 28-19 lead with just under three minutes left in the half.
The Terrapins responded with a quick 10-0 run of their own to take a 29-28 lead into the half.
Coming out of the lockerroom, the Terps went on a 12-2 run, capped by a Kim Rodgers three, to make the score 41-30 in favor of Maryland. The Yellow Jackets remember Rodgers well as she hit a buzzer-beating three from the corner to down Tech 56-53 Feb. 3 in Atlanta. That game proved to be the tie-breaker as the Jackets and Terps finished tied for fourth in the conference.
The Yellow Jackets continued to chip away at the Maryland lead and regained an advantage, 49-47, on a Goodlett layup midway through the second half. The Jackets extended their lead to as much as nine, 56-57, with 7:17 to play.
Again the Terrapins would not quit and cut the Yellow Jacket lead to two, 64-62, with a pair of Lynetta Kizer free throws with just 1:17 to play. But the Terps would not get another field goal, and the Jackets would hit their free throws and grab some clutch rebounds to seal the win.
Saturday’s game with either the Blue Devils or Demon Deacons will be televised nationally on Fox Sports Net at 1 p.m.. For a complete list of carriers, click here.
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— RamblinWreck.com –