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Georgia Tech WBB Continues Losing Skid 63-55 to Louisville

Freshmen led squad showing positive signs

Bianca Jackson’s first game off the bench
Photo via Louisville Athletics

The last two games for Georgia Tech Women’s Basketball were paltry at best, most recently losing by 41 points to Florida State on Sunday. Nell Fortner decided it was time to make a change, benching her leading scorers Cameron Swartz and Bianca Jackson to make way for freshmen Kara Dunn and Inés Noguero. Including Tonie Morgan, the starting five had three true freshman, and Morgan the only player to start every game this season.

The new lineup came out very strong with good ball movement and got open looks. One play saw Noguero passing up on a layup opportunity for an even better layup chance for Morgan that put Tech ahead 11-10. Kara Dunn scored nine points in the first quarter, but was matched by Louisville’s Haile Van Lith’s perfect shooting with eight points.

Fortner did try a double big man lineup in the first, putting Nerea Hermosa and Aixa Wone Aranaz on the floor together. Both were lobbed over on their first possession. Fortner rolled it out a couple more times later while Kayla Blackshear was in early foul trouble, but ultimately it never got to the level that Hermosa and Lorela Cubaj got to playing together.

After a 16-16 tie going into the second quarter, Fortner had Swartz and Jackson in the game for a combined eight minutes. In those minutes, Swartz was a -11 and Jackson a -12. Tech was outscored 16-8 in the quarter that frequently saw them losing track of time just trying to get offensive plays run, which included three shot clock violations.

Louisville made use of Tech’s offensive growing pains, going on a 10-0 run. That run was in part done by Louisville pressuring Tech full court causing back to back turnovers resulting in four free points, and a 32-24 lead at half.

The Cardinal lead swelled to twelve during a largely uneventful third quarter via multiple Van Lith buckets, yet Tech found a spark when Bianca Jackson and Kara Dunn hit back to back threes to pull within six going into the fourth, 46-40.

Tech hit four shots in the latter half of the fourth quarter to keep Louisville’s lead at four, but both a bad pass and unnecessary box out foul by Cameron Swartz with under a minute to play gave Louisville the wiggle room needed to force Tech to foul the rest of the way.

Tech remains winless in ACC play and on a three game losing streak, falling 63-55 in their most promising showing since beating Belmont, also their last road win back on December 4.

Kara Dunn’s career high 17 points led the team. Swartz and Jackson both scored 10 off the bench. Tonie Morgan pulled seven rebounds.

Currently, Noguero is Tech’s best three point shooter at 40%, but has 63 fewer attempts than Swartz, who is shooting 27%. Dunn is the team’s leading shooter at 38% of those with 30 or more made baskets.

Three thoughts on the evening...

  1. Turnovers and points off turnovers: The achilles heel this evening. Tech gave up the ball 16 times, and Louisville scored 19 points off those turnovers. A number of them came from Louisville’s full court press, which is something the Jackson/Swartz led offense has not figured out a way to avoid all season. The full court press was less effective when Tonie ran point with the freshmen, speaking off them...
  2. The Freshman: Fortner took a gamble inserting Noguero and Dunn into the starting lineup, and I’d say it worked. Dunn scored her career high 17, Noguero’s one made three was impactful early, and Morgan had more room to run around with Aranaz setting screens being the primary ball handler. Morgan was the only Jacket with 10+ minutes played to have a positive +/-. The offense played much more freely and loosely with the freshmen running the show. Defense and ball handling could use some help and experience, but the freshmen trio proved to be a change of pace that Nell can use as an alternative while Swartz and Jackson are on a cold streak.
  3. Effort: I’d call this game a step in the right direction just because at no point did Tech show the lack of effort they did against Florida State. Van Lith is a top ACC player who similar to Lotson at FSU can cause all sorts of issues and take over a game. While she did find plenty of shots in her 24 point outing, Tech did not quit on themselves at any point. With Wake Forest next, a winnable game based on what we saw tonight, the vibes from tonight can be built from to hopefully get that first ACC win.

Georgia Tech Women’s Basketball next plays Sunday at 2pm @ Wake Forest. TV: ACCNX