(ATLANTA) - Kennesaw State was the last scheduled game for Georgia Tech at the Arena at Gwinnett Center before heading to San Juan to take on the likes of Rutgers and Wisconsin-Green Bay.
As of this writing, the next four opponents of the Yellow Jackets are a combined 15-0. But if Tuesday night’s 94-51 slaughter of in-state opponent Kennesaw State is any indication of Georgia Tech’s strength, foes of the Yellow Jackets should forgo any overconfidence.
"I credit Kennesaw State - I really thought that this was one of the better teams that they've had," Georgia Tech head coach MaChelle Joseph said. "I know they're a little short handed on the perimeter and it's tough to play a team like Georgia Tech that presses for 40 minutes when you only have three or four guards. I give them a lot of credit; I thought the guards that did play did a great job for them, taking care of the basketball and making shots against our pressure."
So what do you do if you’re Kennesaw State and you have a starting lineup whose tallest player is 6-1? The answer for Kennesaw State is "shoot from outside" and that’s what they did.
The Lady Owls attempted 15 long range shots in the first half, the bulk of those coming from red-shirt freshman Taylor Mills who shot 2-for-8 from 3-point range in the first half. Kennesaw State made it clear from the opening gong that they’d try to beat Georgia Tech’s height from long distance. Of their first five shots, four were from behind the arc – all misses
Mills’ shots – many from at least 25 feet – might be characterized loosely as the kind of shots you attempt when you’re trying to win a car. (There is such a thing as taking the call to shoot from outside too literally.) The Yellow Jackets lept out to an 11-2 lead and it looked like the game would be over in five minutes. But the Lady Owls found some punch with a pair of baskets on back-to-back steals and went on a 7-2 run to close the gap to 13-9.
MaChelle Joseph exhorted her squad to make contact, and told them – quite loudly – that they’d better wake up.
"We get to go on a trip like San Juan and sometimes you get excited about that and it's hard not to look ahead to that trip and not take care of what's in front of you and that was one of the things I was emphasizing over the last couple of days. I felt Kennesaw State was much improved in the tapes I'd seen. I felt that we needed to come in here and handle our business right off the bat."
Tech snapped out of it.
With virtually no opposition from the Kennesaw State defense, most of the Yellow Jacket points came from the area directly beneath the basket. Georgia Tech’s shooting percentage exploded in the first half and the Yellow Jackets scored 38 of their 51 first-half points in the paint. (Tech finished the half with 70 percent shooting at 21-for-30.) Mills kept chucking away for Kennesaw State but Georgia Tech virtually scored at will. The Yellow Jackets finished up with a 13-3 run in the final five minutes of the first half to lead 51-25 at halftime.
Any chance that Georgia Tech might let up died in the second half. Tech continued the run by scoring the first eleven second-half points forcing the Lady Owls into a timeout before five minutes were up. By this time, press row was surfing Facebook. Kennesaw State didn’t score a basket in the second half until 11:53 remaining when senior forward Tamasha Bolden broke the scoring drought. The Yellow Jackets had scored the first 11 points in the half and Joseph brought in sophomore guard and 3-pointer shooter Frida Fogdemark off the bench because…well, why not?
The 3-pointer Fogdemark would put Tech up by 50 points with 3:13 remaining. The Lady Owls scored nine of the final eleven points, a moral victory of sorts for the visitors.
Georgia Tech emptied its bench for the game, and freshman Sarah Hartwell left her redshirt status this game. Junior forward Danielle Hamilton-Carter scored 14 points and had 10 rebounds. Sophomore forward Ty Marshall also scored 14 points in 7-for-9 shooting. It was a true team victory, with the Yellow Jackets scoring 72 of their 94 points in the paint and hitting 63.5 percent of their field goal attempts.
This is the first career double-double for Danielle Hamilton-Carter.
"It feels great," she said. "I'm really excited to start out a season with the team, this being the first time that I've ever been out on the floor with the team for the first part of the season."
After transferring to Georgia Tech, Hamilton-Carter was forced to sit out several games by the NCAA last season due to participating in an international game with professional players and did not start play until mid-season.
Sophomore guard Dawnn Maye had only four points, but had six assists and seven steals in just 19 minutes. "We didn't have her at Marquette - she was at home with her family for a funeral," Joseph said. " I was really proud of the way our team played without Dawnn, because Dawnn makes so many things happen for us on both ends on the floor. She's a catalyst on defense; she's a catalyst on our break on offense. Even though she might not score in double figures, he gives so many other people easy baskets because of what she's able to create off penetration and the way she pushes the ball."
Kennesaw State would only bring seven players. Mills led all scorers with 17, shooting 6-for-14 from the floor and 5-for-14 from 3-point range. Freshman guard Kristina Wells would score 12 points but shoot 4-for-15. Junior guard Ashley Holliday scored only six points, but played a full forty minutes along with Mills and Wells. The Lady Owls limped away shooting only 27.1 percent from the field.
* Up next for Georgia Tech: Rutgers, in the San Juan Shootout. Joseph: "It's like a mirror version of ourselves. They're guard oriented. I think we have more depth on the inside and we utilize our post players more. Rutgers is a very perimeter-oriented team, it presses and traps very much like we do for forty minutes. They want to run in transition and score easy baskets the way we do. Very similar styles of play. I think the team that turns over the ball the least amount of times will win, and also whoever controls the boards…because whoever gets the most possessions in the game is going to win it."
* Georgia Tech advances to 4-0 on the season.
* The Yellow Jackets are 8-0 all time against Kennesaw State and Joseph is 11-0 all time against Atlantic Sun teams.
* Other Georgia Tech in-state opponents this year: Georgia and Georgia State.
* We don't know what metrics that Georgia Tech uses to determine success, but Joseph mentioned that she liked for the Yellow Jackets to have less that 15 personal fouls in a game.
* Junior guard/forward Jasmine Blain tore her ACL in the game against Marquette. She will have surgery in the next couple of weeks and she shall be red-shirted this season. Freshman guard Sarah Hartwell saw time in this game - the original plan had been to red-shirt Hartwell but she is now active.
* Of the three Swedish players who participated in the 2010-11 Georgia Tech season, the only one not returning this year is Sandra Ngoie-Hasahya.