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Fortner: “We didn’t compete today” - GTWBB Loses 99-58 to Florida State

Tech without Eylia Love the rest of the season

Inés Noguero led all Jackets with 16 points with 25 minutes off the bench.
Photo via GT Athletics

ATLANTA — A day after the men’s team suffered a 25-0 run to #13 Virginia on Bobby Cremins Court en route to a resounding loss, the women found themselves in a very similar situation against Florida State. Playing for their 10th win of the season a mere 14 hours into 2023, Tech was on the wrong end of a 19-1 run lasting nearly nine minutes of game time in the first half.

“I thought we got good looks in the first quarter and we just didn’t knock them down. All the sudden it’s 15-5,” said head coach Nell Fortner after the game.

Tech did indeed have the looks, but only five points to show for it in the first quarter, leading to their lowest scoring quarter all season. They shot 2-16 in the first and made one free throw.

Once freshman Inés Noguero joined the fray, things got better. Her three pointer early in the 2nd quarter stopped the 19-1 Florida State run, and played with a complete different energy than the rest of the team. Even with that, the Seminoles kept scoring and were up 39-21 at half.

“[Inés] was knocking down shots, there’s no question. I thought she did some really good things. But she gave up a lot of points on the other end. You gotta be able to knock a shot down and then stop a drive on the other end. She’s a freshman. This is all new to her, division I basketball in the U.S. She knocked down shots that gave us hope,” said Fortner.

Noguero’s 10 shots accounted for 16 points including four threes, the most of any Tech player and the only Jacket to score 10+ points. Tech’s primary scorers Cameron Swartz and Bianca Jackson took plenty of attempts, but combined shot 5-31.

But, as Fortner said, the defense wasn’t at the same level. She had the fifth best defensive rating on Tech’s team, but still had a painful 138.5. No Jacket recorded a rating under 121. For a defense that showed up and held Florida State to 26% shooting the first quarter, once the Seminoles got on their initial 19-1 run, it was ballgame.

Fortner said as much: “We didn’t compete today. We didn’t compete in the second half. That’s an issue that will have to be addressed and fixed. I don’t have the answer for it right now.”

After three quarters, Tech’s turnover to assist ratio was a perfect 3:1 on 18 turnovers and six assists. It shrunk to just under 2:1 by the end courtesy of a blistering scoring run by both teams where 15 straight field goals were made, albeit nine were Florida State buckets. Tech’s 37 fourth quarter points were all but meaningless as they lost 99-58.

Tech simply never had their act together. On the Florida State side, Ta’Niya Lotson took full advantage of the poor Jacket performance, scoring 32 points on 8-15 shooting, a perfect 13-13 from the line (eight fouls drawn), and eight rebounds.

Three thoughts on the tail end of the forgetful weekend of Tech basketball:

  1. Inés Noguero is playing a different game from the rest of them: Coach Butts raved about her when she spoke with the media, and today she showed out. While defensively there definitely was work to do, she still found spots to pickpocket Seminole players and cause some chaos. No one on the floor for Tech put themselves in a better position to suceed with the time given to them.
  2. Eylia Love is no longer on the team: “LeLe Love has been dismissed from the team, and we wish her well” was Fortner’s sole comment about the matter. It was clear from the Clayton State exhibition game that something was different with her. In terms of her basketball, she played slower and the jump shot did not look the same. We don’t have anymore information beyond that. We also wish her all the best in her future.
  3. Whatever the team morale is, it doesn’t appear positive on the court: Again, from Fortner: “I’m sure they feel pretty bad right now...I guess I look at that two ways. Do you want to feel bad after the game, or do you want to work hard and fight during the game and give yourself an opportunity to win a ballgame or at least compete. We didn’t compete today. We didn’t compete in the second half. That’s an issue that will have to be addressed and fixed. I don’t have the answer for it right now.”

She articulates here the fork in the road Georgia Tech Women’s Basketball currently stands. Will they continue to wallow in games where things don’t go their way, or is this team going to stand up for itself? Mental toughness has repeatedly been an issue for the Jackets. Something’s got to change, and quick.

Georgia Tech Women’s Basketball next plays Thursday, January 5 @ Louisville at 8pm on ACCN