Georgia Tech Women’s Basketball moves to 3-0 after completing a 17 point comeback in Houston to beat the Rice Owls 78-75 in the second ever matchup between the two teams. Kayla Blackshear led Tech with 21 points and nine rebounds playing 39 minutes. D’Asia Thomas-Harris had 12 points and 13 rebounds off the bench.
Tech had a hard time in the first half handling Rice’s screen game, allwing plenty of open looks and finished the first half shooting 47% to Tech’s 35%. Turnovers also were an issue, finishing with 10 in the first half that turned into 14 points for the Owls.
In the second half, Tech greatly improved their rebounding and got much more efficient, shooting 51% with 12 points from Blackshear, 10 from Tonie Morgan, and eight from Rusne Augustinaite. Going to Blackshear more frequently was a major factor in Tech’s comeback.
“We started going to her inside, and that was working better for us. I thought we had some key people step up, Rusne, I thought she hit some key shots, Ines hit some key threes,” said head coach Nell Fortner after the game.
How It Happened
Tech struggled in the first with rebounding and turnovers, allowing multiple second chance opportunities to the Owls, primarily when Aranaz was on the floor as the primary rebounder by the basket instead of Blackshear. Rice quickly got out to a 8-2 lead after three Yellow Jacket turnovers. Inés Noguero converted three free throws to shrink the Owl lead to 9-5, where for the rest of the quarter both teams scored at about the same pace. Lots of potential fouling action was not called by the basket by the referees except for a clear charge by Tonie Morgan. Rice’s last three of the quarter came from lax transition defense by Tech. Rice finshed the quarter ahead 24-18, eight of their points coming off turnovers.
The trend mostly didn’t change in the second quarter. Rice continued making shots and Augustinaite became a turnover machine with three in the quarter alone. D’Asia Thomas-Harris and Noguero were able to make good buckets or get to the free throw line, but one of Augustinaite’s aforementioned turnovers enabled a 7-0 run by the Owls in the middle of the quarter, expanding their lead to 37-24. Rice finished the half with a 45-31 lead, more points than they scored in their previous game alone.
Momentarily Tech looked like they might rally out of halftime after Augustinaite hit a bucket to start the half, but Rice countered with a three to go up 48-33. Blackshear scored a couple buckets in the front half of the quarter and got herself to the line, but then again after a quality Tech bucket by Morgan, Rice countered with a three pointer and a layup to go up 15, 57-42.
From there, Tech looked much different, taking over the rebounding battle and finding an offensive rhythm. Augustinaite continued her efficient shooting with a three, plus Noguero finally landed her first three of the game that cut Rice’s lead to ten. Tech then drained four free throws with improved interior rebounding and getting both D’Asia Thomas-Harris and Sydney Johnson getting fouled, finishing the quarter down 60-54, winning the quarter 23-15.
Rusne hit her second three of the game early in the fourth, which Rice immediately countered with their own. A Rice turnover that turned into a Blackshear layup for her 18th point of the game forced the Owls’ first timeout. A beautiful pass from Morgan to Thomas-Harris shrunk Rice’s lead to 67-65 before Rice went on a timely 4-0 run to claw back ahead with five minutes left in the game. Tech countered that with a 5-0 run with a Morgan layup + Noguero three to make it 71-70.
Both teams went cold for a couple minutes before Tonie tied the game with a three at 73-73, which somehow Rice didn’t counter with their own. Rice then got to the line on a non-shooting foul, but had reached the bonus, taking a 75-73 lead with 1:07 left.
Blackshear on the next possession hauled in her 5th offensive rebound of the game, making a layup with a foul, which she converted to put Tech ahead 76-75 for their first lead since the opening minute of the game. Noguero was fouled on Tech’s next possession after Rice turned it over, making her free throws to make it 78-75 with 14.4 seconds left. Rice was able to put two potential game-tying threes up, but neither were good looks, giving Tech their first road win of the season.
Points: Kayla Blackshear (GT) - 21
Assists: Tonie Morgan (GT) - 5
Rebounds: D’Asia Thomas-Harris (GT) - 13
Turnovers: Tonie Morgan (GT)/Destiny Jackson (Rice) - 5
Rice 1st half physicality: Nell notably wants to see Tech play tough inside knowing their defensive strength. Rice had them beat though in the first half, outrebounding Tech 22-20 and getting through screen after screen. Rice was really able to exploit Aixa Wone Aranaz, who only played four minutes in the first half but was a -11 just in the first quarter.
Perfect timing by Rice over and over: Six separate times I counted when Rice made a clutch shot that cut any potential Tech momentum to keep a run, three of those shots being three pointers. The 4-0 run by the Owls halfway through the fourth to put tem up 71-65 was maybe the most critical of all their clutch runs. It shoud’ve been enough for them if they hadn’t faltered hard in the final minute of the game.
Big D’Asia Thomas-Harris night: D’Asia showed tonight why she is going to be huge for Tech in the future. She finished with 12 points, eight of them coming from the free throw line, plus had 13 rebounds all in just 23 minutes. Aranaz was getting beat too easily, and D’Asia’s toughness and offensive ability by the basket worked very well in tandem with Blackshear. I would not be surprised if she maybe gets a starting slot this season.
Georgia Tech Women’s Basketball next plays Sunday, November 19 at 2 p.m. against Kennesaw State at McCamish Pavilion on ACCNX.
Jack Purdy is a non-revenue sports writer and co-host of Scions of the Southland for From the Rumble Seat. He previously served as The Technique’s assistant sports editor before graduating Georgia Tech in 2022. Follow Jack on Twitter @JackNicolaus