Michelle Joseph’s lady Jackets continued on Sunday to be impressive as they defeated the Western Carolina Catamounts 87-47 Sunday afternoon at McCamish Pavilion. Georgia Tech improved to 2-0 while Western Carolina still remains winless on the season at 0-2.
It was both a great offensive and defensive effort by the Jackets as four players finished in double figures. They were led in scoring by freshman Kaela Davis, out of Suwanee, GA, who finished with a double -double, and a game high 20 points to go along with 10 rebounds. Sydney Wallace finished with 16 points. Roddreka Rodgers finished with her first double-double of the season adding 10 points and a game and team high 11 rebounds. In a reserve role, Aaliyah Whiteside scored 13 points, and shot 60% (3-5) from 3 pt. range. Jackets as a team shot 54% from the game from beyond the arc (13-24), and they were led by Sydney Wallace who was 4-5 from distance.
Western Carolina, out of the Southern Conference, were led in scoring by Lindsay Simpson, who finished with a team high 19 points. Jackets locked down on Simpson defensively as she had 14 points at the intermission, as well as hitting a team high four 3’s in the first half. In fact, Simpson did not score her first bucket in the second half until the 8:14 mark. As a team, Western Carolina shot 28.8% from the field, 24% from 3, including an 0-11 effort in the second half, and 46.7% from the charity stripe.
Western Carolina started the game with an early five point lead over GA Tech, but that would be their biggest lead of the game as the Jackets would use a 6-0 run with two 3’s one by Aaliyah Whiteside and Kaela Davis and take a 9-8 lead at the 15:24 mark of the first half and never look back the rest of the game. Jackets went into the locker room at the end of the first half, with a 43-29 lead. Jackets used a lot of energy off the bench by Senior Dawnn Maye, who finished the first half with only 2 points, but had 6 steals in the half to go along with 3 assists.
Even though Tech was up 43-29 at the break, they would pick up their defensive intensity in the second half. Western Carolina shot 39.3% from the field in the first half, including 42.9% (6-14) from the 3 point arc. Jackets shut down the SOCON Catamounts in the second half where they only shot 6-31 (19.4%) from the field, but more impressive held Western Carolina to 0-11 from three point range. Not to mention, Georgia Tech won the rebounding battle 52-26, including 17 offensive rebounds compared to 10 for the Catamounts. Jackets also did a great job distributing the ball as they had 25 team assists, including a team high 5 assists from Jackets senior AP Honorable Mention All-American candidate Ty Marshall.
Georgia Tech will have the whole week off before they return back to the court to face Tennessee in Knoxville on Sunday at 7 p.m.
Here are my three keys to the Jackets vicory:
Sharing the ball: Georgia Tech did a great job of sharing the ball. Jackets had 25 assists as a team, with Ty Marshall with a team high 5 assists. Western Carolina ran a 1-2-2 zone the entire night, and the jackets were outstanding at moving the ball. They distributed the ball very well, and were able to get great open looks, and knocked down shots. They had great looks from 3 all game long. Jackets actually finished the game shooting a higher percentage from 3 54.2% (13-24) than they did from the free throw line at 50% (10-20). A stat that Coach Joseph said that they have never done before in her 11 seasons as Tech’s head coach. Great ball movement and unselfishness on the offensive end is a great sign for the jackets early. They have a ton of scorers on the field, and everyone is starting to play their role.
Team Defense: Jackets did a great job of clamping down defensively. They completely shut down the Catamounts in the second half having them only shoot 19.4% from the field in the second half, including 0-11 from 3 pt range. Jackets destroyed Western Carolina in the rebounding column with a plus 26 advantage, outrebounding the Catamounts 52-26. They were able to shut down Lindsay Simpson in the second half holding her to just 5 points in the second half after she had 14 in the first half. I love the effort from Roddreka Rogers who grabbed 11 rebounds, including 7 offensive rebounds. Great rotations on their man defense, which included 17 Western Carolina turnovers.
Consistent 3 point shooting: IF Georgia Tech can shoot the 3 ball as consistant as they did against Western Carolina, they will cause a lot of hart ache’s for opponents. Team’s will play a lot of zone against the jackets this season due to their style of play and their athleticism. Jackets shot 13-24 (54.2%) from the 3, with Kaela Davis, Sydney Wallace, and Aaliyah Whiteside combining for 12 of the teams 13 3’s. What’s most impressive is how Whiteside was just as consistent as Davis and Wallace off the bench hitting three 3’s. With great ball movement, it makes sense that the jackets hit so many 3’s, but they did a great job of hitting their open looks that the defense gave them.