Tech hoops struggles down the stretch

Eylia Love gets to the rack against Miami on Feb. 20. Love was Tech’s leading scorer on the day, adding 12 points against the Hurricanes. // Photo by Tuna Ergan Student Publications

Both Tech basketball teams were in action last week in some of their final matchups of the season. With the end of the regular season drawing near, both teams are playing to increase their seeds in the upcoming ACC Tournament.

The women’s team had a big game against No. 19 Notre Dame on Thursday, Feb. 17. Notre Dame got out to a fast start and took a seven point lead by the end of the first quarter. The Irish then extended their lead further to ten points by halftime. 

The Jackets offense kicked it into high gear in the second half. After only scoring 20 points in the first half, Tech scored 19 points in the third quarter alone behind the scoring of senior Lotta-Maj Lahtinen, who finished the game with 24 points, to remain within striking distance. 

The Jackets began their comeback in the fourth quarter with an eight point run in the middle of the quarter. 

With 18 seconds left on the clock, Lahtinen was able to score the final bucket in regulation to tie the game 61-61. In overtime, Tech ran out of gas and were not able to keep up with Notre Dame for the final minutes. The Irish closed out the game 72-66 and were able to move into third place in the ACC. 

The women’s team had a chance for redemption on Sunday, Feb. 20 in McCamish Pavilion against Miami for Senior Day. The game was extremely defensive and the Jackets started the game off cold. Tech’s defense looked strong and they were able to hold Miami to just 24 points in the first half, but the Jackets found themselves down at the half after only scoring 12 points throughout the first 20 minutes of play.

 In the second half the offense slowly started to show signs of life by scoring 13 points in the third quarter. The defense however began to taper off and the Jackets were down by 17 points going into the fourth quarter. The Jackets got hot with an eight point run late in the game but it was too little too late. The final score was 51-39 in favor of the Hurricanes and the leading scorer for Tech was sophomore Eylia Love with 12 points in the contest.

The men’s basketball team began their week on Tuesday, Feb. 15 with a game at home against NC State. The Jackets struggled in the first half making less than 36% of their shots and going 10% from three. NC State on the other hand was lights out offensively in the first half. At halftime the Jackets were down 26 points and NC State had all of the momentum. 

In the second half, things got better for the Jackets. Their defense stepped up and was able to cool off the Wolf Pack. Offensively things improved but not enough. Both teams ended with similar stats except for NC State shooting 11-29 from deep compared to Tech’s 5-22. 

The final of the game was 76-61 for NC State and senior Michael Devoe led Tech in scoring with 18 points. 

On Feb. 19 Tech had another opportunity against Pitt. The Jackets and the Panthers went back and forth for most of the first half. The Jackets were able to pull away from the Panthers at the end of the half behind their efficient 50% field goal percentage. At the break, Tech was leading Pitt 37-28. In the second half the Jackets got into a bit of foul trouble. Junior Rodney Howard fouled out of the game and the Panthers shot well from the line. This allowed Pitt to attempt a big comeback from down 18 points with just over five minutes to play. 

The Panthers went on a 14 point scoring run to pull within four points of Tech. They finally able to shift momentum with a fast break three pointer from Devoe, who finished with 22 points, to ice the game. The Jackets beat Pitt on the road 68-62.

The Jackets finished their road trip at Syracuse on Monday, Feb. 21 where they played a highly contested bout against the Orange. 

Howard led the charge for the Jackets during the game, scoring 19 points and grabbing ten rebounds. His performance allowed the Jackets to keep pace with the Orange. 

At halftime the score was knotted 33-33 and the Jackets out shot Syracuse but struggled with turning the ball over which accounted for the extra Syracuse buckets. The second half was even more competitive, with both defenses forcing tough shots and lowering their field goal percentage. 

At the end of the game the score was tied 63-63 with a few seconds remaining. Syracuse had possession but the Tech defense came up big forcing a tough shot that missed and sending the game into overtime. 

The extra period came down to the wire as Syracuse had a 74-73 lead with around 1:30 left. The Jackets were able to force turnovers and missed shots giving them multiple chances to take the lead. The Jackets were unable to capitalize though, and were left with a single attempt to make a basket with 3.3 seconds remaining. Devoe caught the inbound at the top of the key, pump faked, and took a shot that rolled around the rim and fell out resulting in the Tech loss, 74-73 in overtime. 

The men’s team is currently tied for last in the ACC with NC State and Clemson through Monday’s action. The women’s team is in sixth place in the ACC following the Miami loss, with games at FSU and Wake Forest remaining.