(ATLANTA) - After Georgia Tech’s setback vs. Tennessee, one could look at the schedule and tell that Marquette would be the next significant test for the Yellow Jackets. This was the second match of a home-and-away series, and Marquette’s young squad would be just a little bit older and a little bit wiser coming to Atlanta. Maybe still too young, as the Golden Eagles committed 37 turnovers as Georgia Tech tied a school record with 27 steals to win 76-72 at the McCamish Pavilion.
"That’s one of the things I wasn’t happy with against Tennessee or against Kennesaw State," Georgia Tech head coach MaChelle Joseph said. "I didn’t feel like we were playing Georgia Tech basketball. I didn’t feel like we forced enough turnovers, I didn’t think got enough steals. But I really feel that today we made up for that."
Marquette’s problem last year was turnovers, and Georgia Tech seemed to know it. They were aggressive from the opening whistle, running up a 9-0 lead at the beginning. Just sixty-nine seconds into game Marquette already had five turnovers, and all of the Yellow Jackets points from the tipoff run came from turnovers.
Marquette did not start junior point guard Gabi Minix but it might not have mattered given Marquette’s record turnover rate. Unfortunately, the Yellow Jackets were bitten by the turnover bug as well and had seven turnovers of their own before five minutes were up. Marquette junior guard Katie Young scored five quick points and Marquette suddenly looked respectable, only down 12-9. Young’s points were part of a 14-0 run by Marquette put the visitors on top 16-12.
Freshman center Nariah Taylor came in at 14:07 but didn’t stay long – she only played seven minutes - and Marquette was winning the rebounding battle but losing the turnover battle. Marquette’s 16 turnovers nearly matched its 20 points with 7:49 remaining in the first half and both teams struggled through an almost tie game. Georgia Tech freshman guard Brittany Jackson would hit three first-half 3-pointers – two from the same spot on the right side of the court - and it would be enough to help the Yellow Jackets to a 37-33 halftime lead.
The first half was the example of what not to do in a basketball game. The Golden Eagles turned the ball over 20 times in the first half. Both teams were a combined 10-for-20 at the free throw line. Georgia Tech found itself inexplicably behind 25-17 in rebounds during the first half.
"Right now we’re not getting anything from our inside game," Joseph said. "That’s one of the things we’re working every single day to develop. It’s just going to take time. When you lose a player like Sasha Goodlett, when you lose a Nisha Adams and Chelsea Regins, it’s hard to replace that kind of experience and veteran post players. But we’re getting better every day; we’ve just got to continue to grow."
Three players led their respective teams in first half points – Katie Young had 10 points for Marquette, and Georgia Tech’s junior guards Ty Marshall and Dawnn Maye had 10 points each.
Georgia Tech needed someone to step up and perform, and Dawnn Maye would respond. She scored 10 points in the first few minutes of the second half to put Georgia Tech up 47-40. "Dawnn Maye has made big plays for us throughout the course of her career," Joseph said. "We’re counting on her; we’ve put a lot on her right now and she’s really stepping forward."
The Yellow Jackets had to solve the problem of early foul trouble. With 11 minutes left, Georgia Tech had committed nine fouls in the second half to Marquette’s two. A pair of free throws from Jackson gave Tech its first double digit lead, 58-48 with 8:50 to go but with less than seven minutes left Tech senior center Danielle Hamilton-Carter fouled out.
She wouldn’t be the only one. At 4:05 senior guard/forward Jasmine Blain fouled out. At 3:05 Ty Marshall fouled out. But Marquette had no accuracy at the free throw line – the only hit 63 percent at the free throw line - and couldn’t take advantage of the opportunity handed to them. Marquette went on an 11-2 run in the final two minutes but Georgia Tech hung on for the win. During those final two minutes Georgia Tech had three point guards on the floor due to foul trouble.
"We were able to make some adjustments and come out with a win," Joseph said. "That’s the sign of a good team, when you can play ugly and win. I thought we did the things we had to do and made plays down the stretch that got us the win."
On the losing side, four Marquette players scored in double figures. Katie Young led Marquette with 18 points and 7-for-8 shooting. Dawnn Maye scored 23 points for Georgia Tech - tying her career high in points - and had a double-double in points and steals, with 10 steals. Brittany Jackson added 21 points in the win, shooting 5-for-8 from 3-point range. Four Georgia Tech players scored in double figures.
"Brittany Jackson as a freshman I thought was really impressive," Joseph said. "That might have been one of the most impressive performances I’ve ever seen from a freshman at Georgia Tech. I thought she put us on her back and made plays, made shots and was really good on the defensive end."
Georgia Tech heads off to Puerto Rico to the San Juan Shootout for a working Thanksgiving. They play Syracuse on Friday and Wisconsin-Milwaukee on Saturday before returning home.
* Pat Summitt was in attendance at the game, undoubtedly to visit her son Tyler Summitt who is now an assistant coach at Marquette.
* Ty Marshall became the 26th Yellow Jacket to score 1000 career points in the game against Kennesaw State, and was presented with a game ball at center court before the game.
* Georgia Tech’s 27 steals tied a school record set on December 14, 1993 against Georgia State and on November 22, 2008 in a game against Mississippi Valley State.
* Coach Joseph on the development of freshman center Nariah Taylor: "I think Nariah just needs to be patient with herself, and we have to be patient with her. Today was a difficult game to play in because of their veteran post players and the style of play they played."
* On the Syracuse game coming up in San Juan: "Syracuse is another Top 25 opponent. They’re a Big East team. They’re 3-0. They’ve got a veteran post player that’s an all-Big East performer, just like Marquette did. They’ve got some freshmen on the perimeter; they start two freshman guards though so there are not as many veterans on the perimeter but they have an established inside game."