Guards Ty Marshall and Kaela Davis may be the two biggest reasons why the women’s basketball team is off to a 12-7 start this season.
Marshall ranks third in the conference averaging 18.8 points per game, while Davis sits at sixth, averaging 17.9 points per game. Tech is in a fortunate position, being only one of two teams to have two players ranked in the top ten in the ACC in scoring. The offensive attack of Marshall and Davis have put the Jackets at fifth in the conference in scoring as a team, putting up an average of 80.6 points per game.
“To this point, it’s been great,” said head coach MaChelle Joseph “For a freshman, [Davis] demands so much respect while on the floor that it’s a lot of pressure on her as freshman. She’s done such a great job being consistent. I think Ty Marshall has played extremely well going down the stretch here as a senior.”
Marshall, a senior who missed several games at the beginning of the season, has been coming on particularly strong since conference play began. Marshall had a slow start to the season, averaging only 12.3 points per game through her first four games. Marshall has continued to trend upward as the season has progressed. In seven ACC games, Marshall has scored over 20 five times and is averaging 22.3 points per game. Marshall had her biggest game of the season against Virginia Tech on Jan. 23 when she put up 30 points in a 73-52 Georgia Tech victory. Marshall is getting nearly all of her points by taking the ball to the basket. She has only attempted six three pointers on the season, making three of them. She is also making 60 percent of her shots from the free throw line.
Not only is Marshall’s presence felt on offense by her scoring, the guard is also the team’s leading offensive rebounder with 78. That is 11 more than Roddreka Rodgers, who is second on the team.
Unlike Marshall, Davis got off to a hot start this season. It didn’t take her long to show why she was ranked the number two recruit in the nation, putting up over 20 points in the first three games to start the season, including 28 points in Knoxville against third ranked Tennessee.
“Kaela put us on her back a little back. She led us in scoring and rebounding and I thought she really made her presence felt,” Joseph said after Davis’ performance against Clayton State.
Though she is still averaging 17.9 points per game, Davis has seen a drop off in offensive production since conference play began. Her average in ACC play is just 17.7 points per game and she scored 12 or fewer points in four of the seven ACC games. Her last two games consisted of a 12 point performance against Virginia Tech and a season low five point performance against North Carolina State on Sunday. It is worth noting that, in the other three conference games, Davis averaged 25.3 points, including a 27 point performance against sixth ranked Maryland. Even with Marshall picking up the slack in conference play, Davis’ production has been critical to the team’s success. In the four games where Davis scored 12 or less, the Jackets are 1-3. However, Tech is 2-1 in the three games where she scored more than 20.
Part of this recent drop in production could be due to the attention she is forcing opposing defenses to give her. Coach Joseph noted that Virginia Tech used a box and one defense in the first half against the Jackets, which made it difficult for Davis to get many touches. Like Virginia Tech, North Carolina State also made it a priority to shut down Davis.
Redshirt junior guard Len’Nique Brown said postgame that denying the ball from both Davis and Marshall had been an emphasis in practice all week leading up to the game against the Jackets for the Wolfpack.
“We were definitely stressing how we really wanted to make [Marshall and Davis] work to get the ball. But we wanted everybody else really cheating towards them and looking to give them some help,” said North Carolina State Head Coach Wes Moore. “Obviously we didn’t do too good on Marshall. She still had her normal stats. [Kaela] is an awesome player, obviously one of the top recruits in the country a year ago…. As a freshman, she’s going to have a day here and there where she’s maybe a little up and down and the shots just aren’t going.”