McCAMISH PAVILION — After two games over Thanksgiving in Cancun, Georgia Tech Women’s Basketball returned to McCamish on November 29, losing their inaugural ACC/SEC Challenge game to the Florida Gators 68-58. Tech now is 5-2 on the season.
Freshman Rusne Augustinaite was a star for Tech though, shooting 50% and scoring 30 points, including six three-pointers, the entirety of Tech’s offense beyond the arc. Her previous high this season was 14 points, which she did in three games.
Tech has had limited time from Kara Dunn, who was injured in the season opener and only played 11 minutes and missed all four of her shots as she works her way back into shape.
Tonie Morgan also had a good night, shooting 50% with 18 points. Between Rusne and Tonie, they accounted for 82.7% of Tech’s offensive production.
Atlanta Dream star Rhyne Howard was on the coaching bench for Florida, as she’s taken up an assistant role during the WNBA offseason.
While offense was slow at the beginning, Tech’s defense was also giving Florida nothing to work with. Blackshear got the first bucket nearly three minutes into the game, which Morgan added to one possession later for a 4-0 lead. After subbing Augustinaite in, Tech was getting looks beyond the arc, but didn’t land one until Rusne hit one at the 5:17 mark, which Florida countered immediately with their own three. Rusne later converted a three point play to put Tech up 14-10 with under two minutes left, and then hit another three to make it 17-10. Florida finished the quarter with a 4-0 run.
2nd Quarter (17-14 GT)
The first score of the second for the Jackets was a second-chance layup from Morgan, followed quickly by points from Florida. Morgan added to the lead with a three point play, missing the free throw but the Jackets were able to recover the rebound and swing the ball to Rusne for a wide open three. A hustle play from Noguero resulted in a steal and a transition layup from Morgan to stretch the lead 26-19.
Two easy scores from the Gators cut the lead to three with 2:50 left in the half, followed by some poor decision-making and tired defense. Florida cut the lead to one after Rusne was forced to take a deep three before the shot clock ran out. Jackets had the final possession in the half but were unable to capitalize on offense and went into the locker room up by one. Tech did not score in the final 5:34 of the quarter.
3rd Quarter (28-27 GT)
Tech scored first in third and the offense looked relatively lively for the first half of the third. Rusne hit another from the top of the arc. Morgan hit a jumper off the bounce at the top of the key to extend the lead with ~7 minutes left and was able to capitalize on a Florida turnover. Tech’s offense then got static and turnover prone, which the Gators were able to capitalize on to come within one with 4:52 left in the third.
Florida took the lead on a made layup from Jeriah Warren. A shooting foul on Blackshear and a jumper from Alberte Rimdal extended the Gators scoring run to 10-0 and their lead to five. Rusne was finally able to break the Jackets’ scoring drought with a drive to the basket for two. A savvy move from Rusne under the basket resulted in a score for the Jackets but Florida answered back with a contested three from Matharu to keep the lead at six. A Florida three, a Blackshear turnover, and a Tech shooting foul closed out the third with the score 53-44, Gators. Tech finished with seven turnovers in the quarter to Florida’s three.
4th Quarter (53-44 Florida)
Rusne chipped away at the lead with foul shots to bring the Jackets within six in the first few minutes of the fourth. Florida extended the lead but Rusne answered back again with a deep three-pointer. after almost three and a half minutes of no FGs, Morgan was able to connect with Rusne for a jumper to cut the lead to eight. Gator lead back at 10. An open look turned into a turnover and the Gators got the ball back with just under two minutes left to play. Runse tallied another three-pointer in garbage time to get to 30 points before the final buzzer, the Gators winning 68-58.
Points: Rusne Augustinaite (GT) - 30
Assists: Ra Shaya Kyle (FLA) - 5
Rebounds: Ra Shaya Kyle (FLA) - 14
Turnovers: Tonie Morgan (GT) - 5
- This is a young team, there will be growing pains. It’s a bummer that such a great night by Rusne and Tonie wasn’t backed up and turned into a win (only one rebound by Tech’s centers), but that’s what the territory is when a team plays effectively all sophomores and freshman. Winning is everything, yes, but individual progress is not to be ignored either. What we saw from Rusne and Tonie with essentially no help gives me hope.
- Defensively, it’s odd how poor Tech was tonight. This has been the strength of Nell Fortner’s teams her entire time at Tech, but it hasn’t been this season. After allowing only 27 points in the first half, they allowed 26 in the third quarter. Being a young team certainly is a function of why this team will have quarters like that, but getting outrebounded and losing the turnover battle will not win any games.
Georgia Tech Women’s Basketball next plays Saturday, December 2 at 3 p.m. at Nebraska on B1G+.