Finals are done, campus is empty, the John Lewis Student Center Chick-Fil-A wasn’t even open today, all of which are signifiers that basketball season is on its way back after Christmas break. Georgia Tech Women’s Basketball played tonight for the first time in eight days, coming off a blowout 82-41 win at home against Furman.
At John Paul Jones Arena, Tech continued to show the growing pains of this new team were still in progress against Virginia.
Cameron Swartz per usual started the scoring for Tech with a baseline jumper, but the Jackets quickly were stifled by the Hoos who went on an 11-0 run, carving up any Jacket they needed to. Tech didn’t make a bucket for over five minutes minutes until Bianca Jackson hit a pull up, but was called for a carry on the next possession.
Tech finished the first quarter with seven turnovers. For a moment it seemed nothing was going their way after Sam Brunelle hit a heave two-pointer with the shot clock expiring. Had Coach Fortner not needed to use a timeout earlier in the quarter, the situation demanded one be called just to reset. Two injury timeouts and Virginia going cold late in the quarter gave Tech some room to reset and get back to a 16-11 deficit after the first.
By the six-minute mark in the second quarter, Tech had committed 10 turnovers, of which five were unforced. Freshman Inés Noguero got minutes before Eylia Love, and hit a three to retake the lead 29-28 after Kayla Blackshear had just made it 26-25. Bianca Jackson’s free throws had Tech up 31-28 going into half.
Tech’s scoring run over the two halves finished at 8-0, and quickly turned around. UVA scored nine straight buckets in a 27 point third quarter. Tech still scored 16 and it wasn’t enough.
The set that did the Jackets in coincided with Eylia Love’s only minutes of the game, coming in that third quarter. After coming in before Swartz hit a pair of free throws to give Tech a 40-37 lead, Virginia went on an 8-1 run, ending with Love herself getting stuffed on a jump shot attempt. Down 45-41, Love was subbed off the floor, but the momentum was enough for Virginia to stretch the lead to ten late in the third and hold off Tech the rest of the way.
Bianca Jackson’s 14 points were enough to put her over the 1,000 career point threshold, coming on a three pointer extending Tech’s lead to 38-32. Swartz led Tech with 16 points, shooting only 1-6 from deep. Morgan also scored 12 points.
Mir McLean’s 13 points were the most of all Virginia players. She also was the only player to foul out. Sam Brunnelle was 4-4 from the line, maintaining her 96% FT rate, which is top five in the nation.
On the next episode of Scions of the Southland, we’ll talk more in depth about what we’re seeing that’s holding Tech back offensively and why they haven’t consistently broken through against quality opponents.
Three thoughts on the loss...
- The Eylia Love season remains confounding: In the preseason exhibition, Love looked slow and very lethargic on the floor, and mixed with the poor shooting, it was surprising she found her way into the starting lineup early in the season. Tonight though, she was replaced by Kayla Blackshear after starting the last eight games, and only played three minutes, which ended up being the three where Virginia got the lead they didn’t lose again. Aixa Wone Aranaz similarly just didn’t seem to fit today, playing only seven minutes despite starting. We’ll see if Nerea Hermosa gets the starting spot back next game.
- Five fastbreak points and 9-17 on layups: That enough should say what the major detriment was in tonight’s offensive performance. Tech had more than enough chances to put away close buckets and barely shot over 50% from within a few feet. Even though Virginia made just 47% of their layups, they had 32 opportunities, getting to the hole on 64% of their attempted field goals.
- Tech uses three players and figures it out from there: Between Cameron Swartz, Bianca Jackson, and Tonie Morgan, the three of them all had a 24% or higher usage rate against Virginia, with only Hermosa cracking double digits at 10.9%. While they are three best players to work through, they are limited to what they can do if the rest of the players on the floor aren’t offensive weapons. Multiple possessions tonight became stagnant because one of the three of them couldn’t connect with a cutting player or create their own shot. Also, there seems to be no set point guard. We’ll see if roles become more defined as the brunt of the schedule approaches.
Georgia Tech next plays on New Year’s Day at 2pm, home vs. Florida State. TV: ACCNX