The No. 14 Jackets were back at it in McCamish Pavilion on January 27 for the next round of ACC play against Boston College.
Sophomore Eylia Love led the charge in the first half, scoring 14 points on 6-of-10 shooting, including one three pointer.
By no means was it a clean half, as the Jackets did struggle with turnovers, ending the first half with eight, three of which by fifth-year Digna Strautmane. She was the only starter to play the entire half.
Senior Lotta-Maj Lahtinen was given more rest time in the first half, allowing freshman Elizabete Bulane to get some home court minutes, recording two assists and a three pointer.
Tech was up 35-20 at halftime, which all but effectively for the Jackets was enough to win. It was just a matter of how large they would expand the lead in the second half, and possibly even lower their scoring defense number.
Senior Lorela Cubaj reached 10 rebounds before the third quarter was half over. A Lahtinen three pushed the lead to 15 after the Eagles had made a couple buckets to bite into the Jackets’ lead.
The Jackets had a slight scoring drought during the third quarter that was quenched with a Cubaj layup. Tech finished the third quarter with a 52-34 lead, and comfortably held through the rest of the game.
Coach Fortner brought in the second unit with five minutes left in the game, which allowed the Eagles to climb back enough to where the first team came back in to put the final stamp down on the game. Tech won 68-49.
“We really stuck to the scouting report, and our coaches do a good job preparing us for the games,” said Love after her career night, scoring 20 points.
About the defense, Fortner said post game “I think Boston College is really good about getting downhill with the ball. We were really concerned about that…At the end of the day I think our size was something that had a wall kind of feature as [Boston College] tried to attack the basket.”
The Jackets then began a four-game road trip at the Littlejohn Coliseum to visit Clemson on January 30, the first of two games Tech plays against the Tigers within a month-long span.
This game was heavily led by senior sixth man Sarah Bates, who put up 16 points to lead the Jackets, 12 of which came in the first half. All of her jumpers came from three point buckets. Her only non-three point attempt came at the free throw line in the second half.
The game ended up being an offensive shootout, a kind of game the Jackets tend to not try to play with Fortner’s defensive strategy. Tech shot at least 50% in three of four quarters, the only off quarter being the second when they shot 36%. The Jackets only missed three field goals in the entire second half.
While Clemson only held the lead for five minutes in the first half, they kept it close throughout the whole game. Tech was up seven at halftime, and both teams scored 40 points in the second half. The Tigers did cut the lead to one during the third quarter, but Cubaj again came through with a clutch layup near the end of the quarter to keep Clemson at bay.
Tech pulled away with a 69-62 win. Cubaj finished with a 12 point, 10 rebound double-double. No other Jacket had more than three rebounds. Both squads also scored 32 points in the paint.
It was not a great night defensively for the Jackets, as this game increased their scoring defense average to 47.2 points per game. They still hold the top spot in the NCAA for that ranking, but Albany (NY) has closed the gap to within two points.