The Tech women’s basketball team returned home to face Kennesaw State on Wednesday night to start a three-game homestand. The Jackets took an early lead in the first half on a three-point basket by sophomore guard-forward Alex Montgomery started the scoring with a quick three following the tip-off. Kennesaw answered with a three of their own before Montgomery hit two more three-point shots within the first six minutes of the half.
The Jackets took on top ranked UConn Huskies on Sunday. Tech has not fared well in recent history against top-ranked teams. However, despite a strong first half that trend continued. The Jackets trailed by three with five minutes left, but could not close out the contest as the top-ranked Conneticut Huskies used their home-court advantage, a more experienced team and a 15-7 run to beat the Jackets in their home opener, 82-71. In spite of the loss, the Jackets gained votes in both the AP and Coaches polls.
Freshman point guard Mo Bennett led the Jackets in scoring with 19 points off the bench. Senior point guard Jacqua Williams had 15 points and six assists, but also had six turnovers. Three Jackets had five rebounds each but the team was outrebounded by Connecticut 32-37.
The Jackets’ bench outscored the Huskies, but Connecticut won the battle in the paint (26-46), points off turnovers (24-39) and fast break points (12-27). A big contributor to the differences was that Tech had seven more turnovers than UConn and the Huskies managed to capitalize on almost every one.
The Jackets managed a lead early when sophomore guard Deja Foster and Bennett hit back-to-back baskets. Tech had a chance to keep the momentum, but a costly turnover by Williams gave the Huskies the ball and the following basket for the lead. Tech took the lead back but allowed Montgomery to hit a three for UConn to take the lead again. Following that the Huskies went on an 8-1 run to take a nine point advantage before the Jackets forced the battle back.
Tech tied the game with four minutes left in the half on sophomore guard Shaday Woolcock’s three-point basket. The Jackets kept it close for the rest of the half, ultimately settling for a tie at 34 on Bennett’s layup with six seconds left in the half.
Connecticut came out in the second half fast; they went on a 13-4 run to take a nine point lead within the first five minutes of the half. The Jackets would respond, but a layup followed by one out of two free throws by Kalana Greene gave the home team a 13-point advantage. Tech slowly chipped away at the lead. A three-pointer by Williams followed by three lay-ups put the Jackets within three at 65-62. The teams alternated baskets until it was 67-64 before the Huskies would take control of the game for good. They increased their lead to 15 before Tech was able to close the deficit to 11 by the end of the game.
Last Friday, the Jackets opened the regular season with a win over Troy in Atlanta. Montgomery led the team with 20 points and seven rebounds. Sophomore guard Iasia Hemingway finished with 15 points. “Starting out, for our first home game, we did some things really well. Alex stepped up early offensively…. She led our team by making some shots early and playing with a lot of confidence. I thought Jacqua Williams, with five steals, set the tone defensively in the second half when we couldn’t get our offense going,” Joseph said.
The Jackets dominated the boards against the Trojans with a 53-29 rebounding margin that reflected in the 24-point win for Tech. The Jackets also blocked 10 shots and forced 25 turnovers. “We’re all trying to fit in and have each other’s back on defense and offense. It’s developing slowly right now, but it’s going to pick up,” said Alex Montgomery.
The game was tied twice in the first half, when Montgomery hit a layup followed by a jumper from Troy’s Danielle Realph. Troy would tie it again at seven when Larelle Roper hit a three, but Montgomery would follow with her own three to put the Jackets ahead for the remainder of the game. Tech would have as much as an 11-point lead in the first half before coasting to the 24-point win.