McCAMISH PAVILION — Georgia Tech Women’s basketball put themselves back in the win column on Tuesday night, beating the Mercer Bears 73-60 in their first meeting since 2016. Tech is now 6-3 this season after losing three of their last four games.
Four Jackets scored in double figures (Kayla Blackshear: 14, Rusne Augustinaite: 12, Kara Dunn: 11, Inés Noguero: 10) and assisted on 18 of their 28 field goals. Noguero’s 11 points and 12 rebounds were enough for her first double-double of her career, all of her rebounds coming on the defensive end. Tonie Morgan, Ari Termis, Blackshear, and Augustinaite all had four rebounds each. Morgan’s nine points were the fewest she’s scored all season, and would’ve had 10+ in all games this season if she hadn’t gone 1-4 from the free throw line, a place she’s struggled all season.
Even with the win, Tech’s primary issue was defensive toughness.
“We weren’t contesting shots very well, it was like a shooting drill for [Mercer] because we weren’t closing in tight on shooters,” said Nell Fortner in the postgame presser. Mercer shot 42% and hit seven threes, five of them by Deja Williams who was Mercer’s leading scorer at 17 points.
“Bottom line is we’re not contesting shots. We’re not closing out hard. We’re not committed to it and that gives people opportunities to get good looks at the basket. Defense comes from your heart and we’re not showing a lot of it on that end of the floor,” said Fortner.
Half of Mercer’s points came in the paint where Aixa Wone Aranaz was visibly outphysicaled the whole game to the point where Ariadna Termis got a longer run with 15 minutes played.
Both offenses were stagnant to start the first three minutes, but Tech found their footing with threes by Augustinaite and Noguero, going on a 10-0 run, taking a 10-4 lead to the first media timeout at 3:51. The offense stagnated again when Fortner subbed in Thomas-Harris and Bediako, struggling to create open shots and not being able to fight for layups.
2nd quarter (14-11 GT)
Scoring picked up immediately in the 2nd with a steal and layup by Tonie to stretch the lead to five before a Blackshear layup put Tech up 20-13. Mercer countered with a 10-2 run including two threes by Deja Williams. Tech’s scoring drought lasted 4+ minutes before Augustinaite scored five straight points to put Tech back up ahead 29-27. The lead stayed at two going into halftime.
3rd quarter (GT 31-29)
Tech’s offensive rhythm was much smoother out of the half, scoring three consecutive buckets in the paint by Morgan, Wone Aranaz, and Blackshear to force a Mercer timeout leading 37-31. Two great transition buckets by Blackshear in an 8-0 run put her at 10 points in the game and also grew Tech’s lead to 10 at 41-31. Ari Termis then scored seven straight points for Tech between layups and free throws, improving the lead to 51-40. Tech finished with 24 points in the quarter, a massive improvement from the last couple games.
4th quarter (55-42 GT)
Mercer came storming back with nine points from Deja Williams over the first five minutes of the quarter, chipping at the Jacket lead until her third three cut the lead to 62-58 with 4:38 left. Tech continued to get points in the paint, scoring eight of their first nine in the quarter from there. With the Bears breathing down their neck, Tech went on a timely 9-0 run with a great layup by Wone Aranaz and Noguero’s 2nd three-pointer to go up 71-58 and seal the deal.
Points: Deja Williams (Mercer) - 17
Assists: Tonie Morgan (GT)/Inés Noguero (GT)/Maria Serracanta (Mercer) - 6
Rebounds: Inés Noguero (GT) - 12
Turnovers: Briana Peguero (Mercer) - 4
Georgia Tech Women’s Basketball next plays Sunday, December 10 at 2 p.m. against Georgia State in McCamish Pavilion, televised 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