Georgia Tech Women’s Basketball began ACC play in Tallahassee, Florida, losing to the #22 Florida State Seminoles 95-80 in their final game of 2023. The meeting of the 9-3 teams puts Tech at 9-4 for the season, while also recording their season high for points in a loss.
The whole of the game was offense offense offense no matter where one looked. Florida State finished shooting 50.6% to Tech’s 43.8%, led by sophomore Ta’Niyah Latson, whose game high 30 points was the ninth time in her young career she’s scored 30+ points, and also the third time in three opportunities she’s had against Tech to do so.
Kayla Blackshear was a powerhouse for Tech in the paint, shooting 10-18 scoring 22 points, two shy of her career high. Kara Dunn was Tech’s leading scorer with 24 points, her 4th game of 20+ points this season. Tonie Morgan and Rusne Augustinaite also finished in double-digit scoring with 13 and 15 points respectively.
Tech’s main struggles were both in general defending (they were without primary defender, Inés Noguero, due to injury) and free throw shooting, where Tech allowed 54 points in the paint and only shot 9-19 from the stripe. Kara Dunn was the only Jacket to make all of her free throws in her lone trip going 2-2. Early foul trouble for Tonie Morgan also had Sydney Johnson on the floor for extended runs, finishing with only four points in 21 minutes.
Tech’s second half is what killed them, getting outscored 52-38 after only being down one point at half. Augustinaite went cold only shooting 1-6 and Tech as a whole was outrebounded 23-15. On the bright side, Tech scoring 42% of the time at least minimized their turnovers to only two in the second half.
Florida State’s lead grew to 14 about half way into the fourth quarter, making the final five minutes of the game garbage time, the most Tech has played (by our measure) on the wrong end all season.
Tech was not effective in preventing good looks for Florida State early on, at one point seeing Kayla Blackshear back away from a contest with no one else available to guard a shooter, and additionally lost Tonie Morgan to early foul trouble. Ta’Niya Latson got open looks and punished Tech early, helping FSU take a 15-8 lead halfway through the quarter.
Kara Dunn landed a three to stop a 6-0 FSU run before Latson answered with her own on the next possession to go up 18-11. They hit another three to go up 21-13 with only 1:50 left, but Tech went on a tear, scoring four straight buckets including an Augustinaite three to close the gap to 23-21 by the end of the quarter.
2nd Quarter (23-21 FSU)
Back-to-back Blackshear layups gave Tech a 25-23 lead out of the quarter break. The run maxed out at 7-0 after Augustinaite put in her second three, a beautiful stepback. Sara Bejedi shrunk Tech’s lead to 30-29 on a good driving layup with under six minutes to go, but again Blackshear put the ball on the floor and created her own shots with another pair of layups.
The Seminoles followed up with a 7-0 run to take the lead 36-34 after switching to a 2-3 zone, throwing Tech off balance offensively for a couple minutes. Kara Dunn stopped the bleeding again with another three to pull Tech ahead 37-36 at 2:20 remaining. Latson took things into her own hands the next two FSU offensive possessions with five straight points, prompting Tech head coach Nell Fortner to call timeout. Augustinaite hit her third three out of the timeout to tie it at 40. Tech finished with a Blackshear midrange jumper to go down 43-42 at half. Tech managed to win the quarter by a point despite FSU hitting six of their final seven shots.
3rd Quarter (43-42 FSU)
Florida State came out firing in the third, starting with a Latson three point play in the first five seconds to go up 46-42. Blackshear hit another pair of layups to get Tech to 50-50 before the Seminoles went on a 9-0 run over three minutes of game time, largely with Kara Dunn and Rusne Augustinaite off the floor. Kara Dunn was able to get a couple buckets to chop some of FSU’s lead off, but Ta’Niya Latson countered with layups to break the 20 point mark and put the Seminoles up 10, finishing with a spinning buzzer beater layup to make it 69-59.
4th Quarter (69-59 FSU)
Kara Dunn hit a good layup to make it 69-61 to begin the final quarter, but soon after Makayla Timpson on a third putback attempt stretched FSU’s lead to 11 up 73-62. O’Mariah Gordon then hit a three about a minute later at 7:23 make the lead 14. Tech managed to get in the bonus on their next possession, giving them seven minutes of potential free throws, but the weak free throw shooting rendered that advantage null (two misses from both Morgan and Augustinaite). Tech’s starters remained in the game down the stretch, but the rest of the quarter was effectively garbage time.
Points: Ta’Niyah Latson (FSU) - 30
Assists: O’Mariah Gordon (FSU) - 7
Rebounds: Makayla Timpson (FSU) - 14
Turnovers: Tonie Morgan (GT)/Kara Dunn (GT)/Makayla Timpson (FSU) - 2
- Defense still doesn’t have the heart: Now while it certainly is a caveat that Inés Noguero did not play today and surely would’ve been an improvement in trying ot stop Latson, there’s still no excuse for allowing 95 points in a game where the offense put up 80. This is two out of three games now dating back to last year where the Seminoles have put up at least 95 points. Putting up 80 against the #22 team in the country is no small feat, but it doesn’t matter if you only commit to one side of the ball. Nell made the note in an earlier press conference that Tech does not have the defensive heart it needs to win games. This loss was emblematic of that. I say all of this, but it’s not like Tech will just wake up one day and suddenly have that gear. They’ll have to feel it out and make it habit.
- MAKE YOUR FREE THROWS! Tech was one of the best teams in the ACC at this last season. Now? As of today, they’re 12th in the conference at 68.4%, but that is certainly below that now after today’s 47.4% showing. While I’m nothing more than an armchair expert with 10,000 hours of sports content memorized, I feel like you gotta be able to make the shot with nobody legally in the way more often than this.
- Positive thoughts, we’re gonna get a lot of reps against some stellar teams: Right now, six (seven if you feel like including Stanford just for fun) ACC teams are in the top 25. Of those teams, we have six games still to play. It could be more, could be less based on how the next few weeks shake out. Game over game, this team is doing better than they were last year and have a much better set of weapons than before. Rusne Augustinaite leads the ACC in 3PT%. Tonie Morgan is 4th in total assists. Blackshear, Dunn, Morgan, and Augustinaite are all in the top 20 in scoring. Slowly but surely, the pieces are coming together.
Georgia Tech Women’s Basketball next plays Thursday, January 4 against Virginia in McCamish Pavilion at 7 p.m. 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