Freshman Tonie Morgan flirted with a triple-double and senior Nerea Hermosa continued to shine of late amidst fulfilling an altered role this season, as their Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets secured a huge upset win over the No. 15 NC State Wolfpack Thursday night at McCamish Pavilion in Atlanta.
The Jackets won 68-62 thanks to key baskets from Hermosa down the stretch. Hermosa averaged 10.6 points in 31.9 minutes per game last year and started all 32 games. This year, she entered Thursday averaging 4.5 points in 19.2 minutes, having started seven of 21 contests. She came off the bench for 14 points and seven boards Thursday; Morgan led the way with 17 points, six boards and 10 assists.
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Hermosa’s 14 topped her previous season high of 12, which was set in Tech’s previous game, an 85-74 win over Clemson last Thursday. The Jackets (12-10, 3-8 ACC) have won three of their last four. Thursday marked their first ranked win of the season and was quite impressive considering the Wolfpack (16-6, 6-5 ACC) were coming off a win over now-No. 9 Notre Dame.
Hermosa made back-to-back identical mid-range shots from the left baseline off assists from Morgan to make it 60-55 Tech with 3:45 to play. That’s when it first started feeling real — like the Jackets could pull it off.
A third consecutive Morgan-to-Hermosa connection, on a layup, made it 62-58 with 2:59 to go. Hermosa then capped off her heroics when she flew in for an offensive rebound of a Cameron Swartz missed three and sank two free throws to make it 65-60 Jackets with 29 ticks remaining.
At that point it felt very real.
NC State star Diamond Johnson stepped out of bounds on the ensuing possession and an offensive foul was called on Jakia Brown-Turner on the Wolfpack possession after that.
Down 68-62, the Pack stole an inbound pass at seven seconds remaining, but turned it over to Morgan moments later and didn’t foul over the final four seconds.
Tech’s two fourth-quarter scoring possessions before Hermosa’s mid-range makes were both crucial. Bianca Jackson made a desperation three at the shot clock buzzer to make it 53-51 Jackets and Kayla Blackshear converted on a 3-point play off an offensive rebound and layup to make it 56-53 Jackets.
The third was very closely contested, but NC State did threaten to create significant breathing room when it had a five-point lead. Tech closed the frame with six straight points to lead 50-49. Swartz made a free throw, Hermosa banked in a hook shot and then Swartz buried a trey with two seconds left.
The Wolfpack opened the second quarter on a 12-0 run to lead 30-23. Aziaha James provided the initial spark with a floater followed by a steal that led to a Madison Hayes layup in transition. After some free throws in the middle of the run, River Baldwin made a layup and Hayes made a three to close it out.
Just like they did in the first, the Jackets responded; they were able to tie it up at 33 at the break. Back-to-back threes from Swartz and Avyonce Carter cut it to 30-29 and Swartz later hit from mid-range and assisted Jackson in transition for a 4-0 run that made it 33-32 Tech. Swartz finished with 12 points.
After starting off down 14-6 and 16-8, the Jackets went on a 15-2 run to lead 23-18 after one. Morgan had a 3-point play cut it to 16-13 and a near-3-point play (with a missed free throw) cut it to 18-17. On the ensuing possession after the latter, Morgan stole the ball and it led to a Blackshear layup in transition that gave Tech the lead.
A difficult layup by Hermosa off a nice assist from Morgan and a Jackson mid-range make from the left baseline closed out the opening frame.
After a 9-6 start in favor of NC State, the Wolfpack went on a 5-0 run to gain what ended up being tied for their largest lead of the first.
Johnson paced the Pack with 17 points. Camille Hobby added 12 points and seven rebounds and Hayes had 10 boards.