After three wins where Georgia Tech Women’s Basketball showed some grit and offensive flare, they played one of the worst games in the Nell Fortner era, losing to the Duke Blue Devils 84-46. Tech falls to 12-5 on the season and 3-2 in ACC play. While Duke holds the all-time series lead by over 60 wins, they now have only won five of the last nine matchups.
This was a game with no offensive rhythm, inept defense, and a lack of clear on court leadership to light a fire under themselves by Tech. It’s harsh, but this was the reality we saw at Cameron Indoor this afternoon.
The Jackets let Duke shoot 50% from the field and 59% from three, committing 11 first half turnovers that were a huge contributor to Tech’s 36-24 deficit at halftime. From there, Tech only fell further off the cliff.
Duke scored 48 second half points with nine different players scoring, led by Oluchi Okananwa with 14 in the half and 21 in the game. That’s right, Duke scored more points in the second half than Tech did in the whole game. Duke out rebounded Tech 42-21, out assisted them 20-12, and outblocked them 6-1. Duke did have a clear size advantage with Kennedy Brown at the five, which forced Nell Fortner to play Ariadna Termis for 26 minutes.
Termis though made great work of her time on the court, scoring a career high 12 points (including 2-3 from three, career high) and tying her career high with four rebounds, plus a steal, easily Tech’s best player for the bulk of the game. It was also her first double digit point game and the most minutes she’s played in a game.
Duke’s defense played extremely well. Their switching was on point, they did not let Tech’s screens be effective, they dominated in the paint, and kept Tech uncomfortable at the perimeter. While it’s on Tech to figure out ways to get open and get their playmakers involved, Duke made that as hard as it’s been for Tech all season
Duke’s jump shooting was efficient early to take a 10-4 lead about halfway through the quarter before buckets by Tonie and Kayla shrunk it to a 10-8 lead at the first timeout. Both teams went on a scoreless streak from the 5:03 to the 2:49 mark when Duke hit a couple free throws, both defenses preventing any kind of sustainable offensive rhythm. The Jackets notably were sloppy with ball control and could not outpace Duke’s defensive switches. Tech didn’t score again until Tonie Morgan hit a pair of free throws at the 1:09 mark, then Ariadna Termis shrunk the Duke lead to 14-13 with her third three pointer of the year.
2nd Quarter (16-13 Duke)
Termis hit another two buckets to keep Tech close down 20-18 before Duke sauced her up defensively to kickstart a 9-0 run with two threes by Tiana Mair and another by Okananwa to go up 29-18. Tech again went on a long scoreless drought from the field, going nearly six minutes between buckets (both by Termis) where Duke’s lead grew to 33-22. Tech’s six turnovers in the quarter were a dagger to Tech’s offense, though Termis led all scorers at halftime with 10 points.
3rd Quarter (36-24 Duke)
It got ugly quick to start the second half. Tech committed three turnovers early that turned into a 9-0 run for Duke by the 6:24 mark to go up 45-26, Tech’s only bucket coming from Kayla Blackshear. A steal by Noguero turned into a Blackshear three (her 2nd of the year) to end Duke’s run, but Duke immediately earned and converted a three point play. The rest of the quarter went that way. When Tech would make a bucket, Duke would counter and add on, pushing their lead to twenty points at 54-34 and 59-39. The Blue Devils finished with five threes in the quarter, outscoring Tech 28-17.
4th Quarter (64-41 Duke)
The whole fourth effectively was garbage time. Tech did slow down Duke’s pace but did not generate anything threatening enough to put Duke in a tight spot. Kara Dunn was the lone scorer for the Jackets halfway through the quarter with five points while as a team Tech only shot 20% up to the 4:44 mark. The offense was so aneimic that Tech did not score for the final 8:02 of the quarter, where Duke went on the slowest 13-0 run ever seen before closing it out 84-46.
Points: Oluchi Okananwa (Duke) - 21
Assists: Taina Mair (Duke) - 8
Rebounds: Oluchi Okananwa (Duke) - 9
Turnovers: Tonie Morgan (GT) - 4
- Nothingburger from Augustinaite and others: Rus had her shot attempts, but barely got any open shots to the point where when she did in the fourth quarter, it was no surprise she couldn’t land a bucket. Tonie Morgan did have six points, but played only 17 minutes, which tells me her cramps are still an issue beyond just having a poor game today.
- Did Termis take over Wone Aranaz’s spot?: I’m very curious to see what the rotations look like in the next game. Fortner knows to stick with the hot hand, hence why Termis played 26 minutes today, and Aranaz rarely has played well enough to get extended minutes in games against higher quality opponents. Termis’ recruiting with Tech lasted a long time, they knew she was going to be an important piece to this team. Her time might be coming sooner than we thought if she can follow up this performance.
- This team too often does not have a rage inside them: One thing we always could count on from the likes of Lotta Maj Lahtinen and Lorela Cubaj was they were going to intimidate opponents and have emotional aggression on the court. This team does not have that. It stems from not having the “heart to play defense” as Fortner has put it. Now, they’re young, it’s not like that will come immediately, but it has to start at some point. They have to find ways to stop runs before they avalanche and the game ends in the third quarter. Today, that lack of heart spread to every other facet of Tech’s performance. Getting doubled up rebounding is embarassing, no other way to put it. Tech didn’t play with enough focus to take care of the baksetball. They have the talent adjust, so let’s hope it comes.
Georgia Tech Women’s Basketball next plays Thursday, January 18 against #20 North Carolina at 6 p.m. in 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