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Youth and defensive failures inescapable in 2OT loss

The first overtime game of the year did not go to plan

Kara Dunn finished with a career high and game high 20 points
Danny Karnik - GT Athletics

ATLANTA — Georgia Tech women’s basketball came into February 12 on a two game losing streak and at most playing for pride the rest of the way in conference play until Greensboro. Against Clemson on February 9, the run of steady improvement finally caught a real bump in the road, where Swartz was the only Jacket with 10+ field goal attempts in the 57-41 loss, the fewest points Tech has scored all season.

In what’s become a season of rebuild, Tech continues to lead the ACC in free throw shooting at 76%. Kayla Blackshear and Cameron Swartz remain the only Jackets on the ACC individual leaderboards. Blackshear is 2nd in offensive rebounds at 3.42 per game behind Florida State’s Makayla Timpson at 3.58 per game.

While not close to the top of any other statiscial leaderboards, Tech found their three point stroke early, hitting 7-of-14 in the first half en route to a 41-33 lead. Avyonce Carter, Cameron Swartz, Kara Dunn, and Bianca Jackson all hit at least one in the half. Carter, Dunn, and Jackson all led Tech with eight points 20 minutes in.

Defensively, it wasn’t the greatest all-time showing by them at the beginning, letting the Panthers at points creep back in to prevent the lead from balooning, but Swartz did have this monster block:

In the second half, Pitt made good adjustments and tied the game at 41 apiece in 78 seconds of game time, but wouldn’t take the lead until they made it 54-53 with 35 seconds left in the third quarter. The Panthers outscored Tech 23-12 in the third on 11-of-15 shooting. Tech earlier in the quarter had a possession that lasted five shots before Tonie Morgan got fouled, resulting in Morgan making both of her free throws.

After sitting the beginning of the fourth quarter, Kara Dunn solidified her huge day once she came back with 5:32 left, getting a defensive rebound and layup to shrink Pitt’s lead to 61-60, which Kayla Blackshear erased on the next possession with a jumper.

Blackshear again would come in clutch, hitting another jumper with 22 seconds left to put Tech up 70-68. Pitt missed their next shot and sent Morgan to the line. Morgan only made one of two, giving Pitt a chance to tie it down 71-68 with 2.5 seconds left. The inbounds pass to Channise Lewis resulted in more than enough space to line up a clean three-pointer, which she drained, sending Tech to their first overtime game of the year.

Overtime, and the subsequent second overtime periods were slogs at best, with Tech clearly exhausted and not staying in shape defensively. Dunn multiple times would get buckets to give Tech a lead, but they could not get back in transition fast enough to prevent easy layups for Pitt.

Tech did manage to keep Pitt out of the bonus until the 2:06 mark in 2OT, but Aixa Wone Aranaz eventually committed a foul to put the Panthers at the line to take the lead 80-79, and Swartz was committed a charge on the following possession. The empty possession was enough for Pitt to pull away and win 85-79. Tech did not hit a single three-pointer in the second half.

For Nell Fortner, this game was a story of a complete breakdown in their defense.

“We were just terrible defensively. We’re going to have to go back and re-evaluate what we’re doing defensively because we struggled to guard people at Clemson and we struggled to do that today. We’re going to have to figure out some other ways we can potentially play defense whether that’s adding more zone or looking at other ways to play at that end of the floor.”

Ultimately that’s the whole of this story. Even with Kara Dunn going for a career-high 20 points, Tech still plays like the young team they are. This time, the youth showed itself by allowing too many easy baskets.

As a fan, I’m still extremely proud of the effort being put up in what for all other purposes is a lost season. Around the same time last year is also when the team started slipping, but for much different reasons beyond inexperience.

Tech at this point will need to win the ACC tournament to get into March Madness, a near impossible task at this point, but the games still have to be played.

Georgia Tech women’s basketball next plays Thursday, February 16 at McCamish Pavilion against Wake Forest at 7:00 p.m. on ACCNX