Georgia Tech’s offensive power got them back in the winning column Wednesday to end preconference play with an 82-41 romp over Furman.
Bianca Jackson lead the way for the Yellow Jackets with 21 points, while Tonie Morgan put up 11 points and grabbed 10 rebounds and Cameron Swartz added 11 points. But it was the team’s willingness to share the ball that made the biggest impression with the coaching staff.
“We had 24 assists on 29 shots, so it was a good gift-giving day here for us right before Christmas, so it was really good to see our team come and share the ball really well and also finish and shoot the ball well,” associate head coach Blanche Alverson said.
Tech, which lost their ACC opener to Boston College three days earlier, have had a bit of a down season so far, averaging just 62.3 points per game – last in conference. They also are last in assists, field goal percentage and 3-pointers made, and 14th in 3-point percentage. But just like last season, their defense is once again stout, as they are fourth in points allowed per game, with a 54.2 average, third in field goal percentage defense at 33.3 percent and first in 3-point percentage defense at 21.1 percent.
Nerea Hermosa had a big impact on both halves of the court, as she made several big plays that really sparked the team. Around the four-minute mark of the first quarter, she forced the Paladins’ Paraskevi Koilia to dribble the ball out of bounds, and a few plays later, she grabbed an offensive rebound and made one out of two free throws.
In the first 10 seconds of the second quarter, Hermosa assisted the ball to Kara Dunn, and not soon after that scored herself on a Morgan assist. In yet another great play two minutes later, she made an assist to Avyonce Carter for an easy bucket. She did other little things right like forcing bad shots, deflecting passes, grabbing rebounds, drawing fouls and making more baskets.
“We know that when we’re defending, it gives us an opportunity to get out and push and run in transition and get easier opportunities,” Alverson said.
The Yellow Jackets did indeed defend, as they held their opponents to 27.4 percent shooting from the field and 5.3 percent shooting from 3-point range for the entire game. Their lockdown defense also allowed them to score 22 points off of turnovers and 18 points on the fast break, respectively. As a team, they shot 41.4 percent from the field, 30.8 percent from 3-point range and 80 percent from the free-throw line.
Jackson shot 67 percent from the field and 60 percent from 3-point range, and Morgan almost had a triple-double with 10 rebounds and eight assists.
“We get a lot of reps as a team, so just having those reps and being consistent with it, we were able to find each other and put each other in good positions,” Jackson said.
If there was one play that summed up the game for Tech, it was when Swartz made a jumper a third of the way through the third quarter, and then was on the receiving end of a technical foul on the other side of the court. She made two technical foul free throws and during the ensuing possession, she assisted on a Jackson 3-pointer to put them up 55-21.
The Yellow Jacket bench came up big, scoring 37 points. Four that stood out were Kayla Blackshear (6 points), Kara Dunn (7 points), Ines Noguero (7 points) and Raeven Boswell (7 points).
They also showed up in the rebounding, assists, steals and blocks departments, contributing on both sides of the court. This is where the team’s ball movement really shined, as the role players were put in the positions where they could impact the game.
At one point near the end of the first quarter, Blackshear made a hook shot thanks to an assist from Dunn and a minute later, Blackshear grabbed a rebound off of a missed 3-pointer and was fouled on the attempt, made two free throws to put her team up 19-9 and then proceeded to make a steal on the ensuing Furman possession.
“Being able to have games like this where everyone’s involved and continuing to see and have each other encouraged and be there and support each other, our chemistry is only going to get better from here,” Alverson said.
Tech’s newfound chemistry will definitely be key going forward, as they head into conference play Dec. 29 after an eight-day layoff with a road matchup against the 12-1 Virginia Cavaliers. Though they are 9-3, the Yellow Jackets hover near the bottom of the conference standings, in 11th place, though they were picked preseason at the No. 8 spot.
In ACC play, they will go up against some of the nation’s top offenses in No. 5 Notre Dame, No. 6 North Carolina, No. 7 NC State and No. 8 Virginia Tech.
After the Cavaliers, Tech faces 12-2 Florida State on New Year’s Day at home before heading back out on the road for a matchup with 10-4 Louisville Jan. 5.