Women’s Basketball wins FIU holiday tournament

The women’s basketball team closed out the 2009 calendar year on a high note, defeating Hampton 63-54 on Monday and Florida International on Tuesday to win the FIU Sun & Fun Classic Championship. It was Tech’s second offseason tournament title this season. With the wins, Tech improves to 12-2 overall and remains the No. 24 team in the nation.

In the first game of the four-team tournament, the Jackets faced a Hampton team that was 3-7 going into the contest but kept the game close throughout. The Lady Pirates trailed by just one point at halftime and led midway through the second half, but ultimately Tech was able to rally and secure the victory. Senior forward Brigitte Ardossi led the team with 24 points on 9-of-12 shooting. Junior guard Deja Foster added 10 points and a team-high nine rebounds, and junior guard Alex Montgomery contributed 12 points off the bench.

The first half was a back-and-forth battle that saw the teams combine for 10 lead changes, and neither team led by more than four points in the half. Hampton held a 14-11 lead after a pair of layups by forward Breanna Jones, but Ardossi hit a jumper in the paint, grabbed the rebound after a missed Hampton three-pointer, and hit a second jumper to put Tech ahead 15-14. The Jackets found themselves down 27-25 in the final minute, but Montgomery hit a three-pointer with 34 seconds left to give Tech the halftime lead.

Hampton quelled an early Tech run in the second half and held a 43-42 lead with 10 minutes left in the game, but after that the Jackets broke the game open. Montgomery hit back-to-back three-pointers, then added a third shortly afterward as Tech scored 13 straight points to take a 55-43 lead with 5:15 left. Hampton was unable to recover, and Tech advanced to the finals with a 63-54 victory.

“I was very proud of our veterans down the stretch. Brigitte, Deja and Alex all made huge plays,” Head Coach MaChelle Joseph said in an interview with ramblinwreck.com.

The championship game saw Tech take on host Florida International, a 6-6 squad that registered 16 blocks in defeating Bryant on Monday to reach the finals. This time, the Jackets had little trouble as they led by as many as 17 and prevented FIU from ever taking the lead. Sophomore center Sasha Goodlett had a team-high 17 points on 7-of-12 shooting, and three other players—Ardossi, Montgomery, and sophomore guard Mo Bennett—scored double-digit points in the game. The Jackets shut down the Golden Panthers defensively, holding them to just 32.1 percent on field goal attempts and 27.6 percent on three-pointers.

Tech opened the game on an 8-1 run and kept FIU at bay early on, but the Golden Panthers battled back behind contributions from several players. They eventually tied the game at 22 and trailed by just two points at halftime. FIU was able to stay within striking distance early on in the second half, but Montgomery’s long-range shooting helped Tech stay ahead. The junior gave Tech a 45-40 lead with one three-pointer with 14:29 to go, and a second trey with 9:39 left sparked an 11-0 Jackets run. Tech held FIU to two points over a stretch of 8:22 late in the half and cruised to a 68-57 victory, securing the Sun & Fun Classic Championship title.

Ardossi was named the tournament MVP, recording stellar numbers despite playing just 23 minutes against FIU due to foul trouble. Over the two-game stretch, she shot 12-of-19 from the field for 34 points and added 13 rebounds, four assists and two blocks. She also went 10-for-12 on free throw attempts.

“Brigitte continues to be a dominant factor in every game. I am pleased with her consistency,” Joseph said.

The Jackets return to action on Saturday against Army at Alexander Memorial Coliseum, and next Wednesday they will face No. 7 North Carolina in their ACC opener. Tech defeated then-No. 2 UNC at home 66-62 last season, but fell to the Tar Heels on the road 73-50.