Jan. 6, 2011
ATLANTA – Georgia Tech overcame a seven-point deficit with a just over a minute remaining, scoring the last eight points of the ballgame in a furious last minute to beat the previously undefeated eighth-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels, 71-70. The win was Tech’s second over a ranked opponent this season, as the Jackets improve to 13-4 and 1-0 in the ACC, while the Tar Heels fell to 14-1 and 0-1 in the ACC.
The trademark pressing defense that head coach MaChelle Joseph has instilled in the Georgia Tech program shined big for the Yellow Jackets down the stretch as Tech won its 10th straight game and earned its first back-to-back wins over North Carolina since Jan. 9 and Feb. 22, 1991.
“One of the things we’ve talked about all year is that we can’t quit,” Joseph said. “We have to play relentless on both ends until the final buzzer. I told our team that to win, we’re going to have to out-rebound. The fact that we’ve out-rebounded North Carolina, Tennessee and Connecticut, that says a lot about the heart and tenacity of this team.”
The Jackets won the battle of the boards, 39-29, the 15th time in 17 games this year Tech has out-rebounded its opponent, helping to overcome a poor night of ball-handling as North Carolina tallied 13 steals and forced a total of 23 turnovers for Tech.
With her team trailing 70-63, Joseph called a timeout with 1:06 remaining. Coming out of the timeout, freshman Tyaunna Marshall hit her second career-three pointer from well beyond the three-point line as the shot clock nearly ran out to pull Tech within 70-66 at the 1:06 mark. The Tar Heels weren’t able to inbound the ball and were called for a five-second violation, giving the Jackets possession.
Deja Foster then came through in a big way with the play of the game. The senior guard connected on a layup that brought the Jackets to within a possession with 28 seconds left. She immediately stole the ensuing North Carolina inbounds pass and found an open Metra Walthour who nailed a three-pointer to give Tech the lead.
“Deja got a big layup and steal,” Walthour said. “As she [Foster] was driving down, we had numbers. I spotted up and the first thing she said to me when she passed it was `knock it down’. I knew if she had that much confidence in me, I had to have that confidence in myself to take the shot, and it went in.”
In the final 10 seconds, the Jackets survived a missed three by North Carolina’s Italee Lucas and a short jumper by Jessica Breland to earn their third consecutive home win over the Tar Heels.
“Ty put us on her back at the end of the game and carried us,” Joseph added. “Metra stepped up, Deja Foster makes a big play and Metra hit that three. I was teasing her [Walthour] on the way up, after shooting an air ball, to have the confidence to step up and hit that three was huge. Playing that tough schedule early really helped us. Nothing North Carolina did tonight surprised us. They’re a very, very good team, but we’ve also played Connecticut and Tennessee, so we weren’t surprised by their effort and their size and their strength on the inside.”
Marshall led four Yellow Jackets in double figures with a game-high 24 points, her fifth career game with at least 20 points, of which three have come against ranked foes in No. 1 Connecticut, No. 21 Georgia and now No. 8 North Carolina. Senior Alex Montgomery narrowly missed her seventh double-double of the season with 13 points and a game-high nine rebounds.
Walthour finished with 12 points, five assists and four steals, while playing nearly the entire contest. Junior center Sasha Goodlett, who Joseph credited with playing a big game inside, added 11 points and seven rebounds.
“I’m really pleased with our overall effort on the defensive end,” Joseph said. “Eight years ago when we started this program, we said that we were going to build it on defense and rebounding. You saw tonight why that is so important. We got down at the end of the game and we needed defensive stops, and that’s what it came down to, defense and getting that final rebound.”
Tech will hit the road for its first road trip of the young ACC season when the Jackets travel to face the Clemson Tigers in a Sunday afternoon matinee. Tip-off is set for 3 p.m. at Littlejohn Coliseum with CSS broadcasting the game. Fans can listen live at WREK.org, follow live stats through RamblinWreck.com or instant updates on Twitter @GTWBB. For more information, please visit RamblinWreck.com.