McCAMISH PAVILION — “Sometimes you have to win ugly,” said Georgia Tech Head Coach Nell Fortner about women’s basketball’s 63-60 win over the Virginia Cavaliers. Tech had just come off a 95-80 loss at Florida State, the most points they have scored in a loss all season, and played easily the scrappiest, physically toughest game they’ve played all season. Tech is now 10-4 and 1-1 in ACC play.
One Virginia player fouled out (London Clarkson) while four others between the two teams finished with four fouls. Georgia Tech shot 33 free throws at 64% while Virginia shot 23 free throws at 65%. Tech’s saving grace was making critical free throws at the end of the game, but also that Virginia shot 1-16 from three.
Kara Dunn led all scorers with 24 points along with six rebounds, leading Tech in usage rate at 36% and in minutes played.
“One of the good things about her is that she’s so versatile,” Fortner said about Dunn. “I can move her around, I can post her up, she can hit a three, she can play at the elbow. She’s so versatile. Being able to move her around tonight was very helpful for us. She did not disappoint.”
Tonie Morgan did most of her work from the free throw line, going 10-15 despite only shooting 4-14 from the field, most of her misses coming from layup opportunities. Her 12 rebounds were crucial though in contributing to Tech’s 15 second chance points.
Inés Noguero came back from a one game absence with a brace on her left arm, visibly in pain at points throughout the game during breaks in action. But, “she’s a fighter,” as Fortner put it in the press conference, and she did not play as if there were any issues.
Virginia’s Camryn Johnson was the only player to shoot over 50%, going 7-12 with 19 points.
On the way to the first break at 4:07 tied at 8-8, Tech forced six Virginia turnovers, including three steals by Kara Dunn. But, on the offensive end, Tech had minimal success shooting 3-11 and 2-6 on layup opportunities. Getting to the basket was not a problem in this stretch, but finishing was another whole matter.
Tech found a little bit of a groove with Kara out of the officials timeout, making two layups to make it 14-8 Tech. Virginia though finished with five straight points, including one basket off a Tech turnover to close out the quarter.
2nd Quarter (14-13 GT)
Turnovers continued to be an issue in the second quarter, with Tech racking up five before the only break of the quarter at the 2:38 mark. Virginia had no issue keeping up with Tech’s offensive pace, which looked slower than usual this quarter. The Jackets continued to try and hammer home layups, the only open jump shot look coming from Sydney Johnson who hit her sixth three pointer of the season to make it 22-18 Tech. Virginia put together two good layups to tie it at 22-22 with 3:28 left, and then a Camryn Taylor bucket gave the Hoos the lead.
Rusne Augustinaite was not on the floor for the middle of the quarter, only taking a single shot so far, but her return along with Aixa Wone Aranaz at 1:33 left immediately gave Tech a spurt of offensive energy they needed. She got to the line on Tech’s next possession, sinking both to put Tech ahead 25-24, and on the next possession found Kara Dunn for a layup to close the half with a short but important 5-0 run.
Both teams shot just 27% through two quarters, UVA also going 0-11 from three.
3rd Quarter (27-24 GT)
Tech got a quick bucket to start the second half from Augustinaite, followed up by a rare 2-2 showing at the free throw line by Tonie Morgan to make it 31-26 Tech. Back to back Kara Dunn layups to go up 35-28 forced Virginia’s first timeout of the game with 6:25 left, the second coming from another great Augustinaite assist.
After the timeout, Tonie Morgan got a rest, but it gave UVA a chance to better slow down Tech with their full court press. It worked once, triple teaming Augustinaite to the sideline at half court that became a turnover. Two possessions later, Tech beat it perfectly with Noguero running under the basket, kicking the ball to Augustinaite on the right side for her first three of the game. Of course, after 11 misses from deep, Virginia hit their first three mere seconds later to keep Tech’s lead at three, 38-35 with 5:05 left.
The next five minutes saw three lead changes, three ties, both teams getting to the free throw line multiple times, and the rare Kayla Blackshear three pointer. That bucket put Tech up 46-45 with under a minute left, which D’asia Thomas-Harris followed up with a deep two-pointer. After a made Virginia free throw, Aranaz while rebounding the miss on the second shot was out of bounds while trying to push it out, giving Virginia an extra possession that they used to tie it at 48 to end the quarter.
4th Quarter (48-48)
Blackshear committed her fourth foul with 8:40 left in the quarter, prompting Nell Fortner to immediately sub her out, giving D’asia Thomas-Harris another run. Dunn and Morgan hit layups to put Tech up 52-50 with 7:40 left. Nobody scored again until the 5:22 mark where Virginia tied it before Tonie Morgan earned her first three point play of the game, not converting the free throw.
London Clarkson fouled out for UVA with 4:17 remaining, the resulting Blackshear free throw putting Tech up 55-52. The three point gap was critical as both sides repeatedly sent each other to the free throw line while putting key players in foul trouble (Camryn Taylor for UVA, Rusne Augustinaite and Inés Noguero for Tech).
With under two minutes to go, Tonie made it to the foul line for her 14th and 15th attempts of the game, sinking them both to put Tech up 60-56. Tech made it two more times between Rusne and Kara while UVA only got one more opportunity (Kaydan Lawson sinking both her attempts) to go up 63-60 with 20 seconds left. UVA had the final possession and could not sink a game tying three before time expired. No field goals were made in the final 3:26 of the game.
Points: Kara Dunn (GT) - 24
Assists: Kymora Johnson (UVA) - 6
Rebounds: Tonie Morgan (GT)/Paris Clark (UVA) - 12
Turnovers: Kara Dunn (GT) 5
- Free throws, please make free throws: That’s it. Shooting 64% and being one made three away from the game being tied just won’t cut it against most of the ACC.
The rest of my takeaways I’ll disperse on the next Scions of the Southland after the Pitt game during EPISODE 200!!!!
Georgia Tech Women’s Basketball next plays Sunday, January 7 at Pitt at 2 p.m. on ACCN.
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