Women’s basketball tipping off their season

Junior Eylia Love drives against Miami last season. Love is Tech’s second-highest returning scorer, shooting over 40% from three-point range and grabbing nearly five rebounds per game. // Photo by Tuna Ergan Student Publications

The Jacket women’s basketball team is looking to rebound after being knocked out in the first round of the NCAA Tournament earlier this year and hopes to start the season stronger than when the last campaign ended. Tech women’s basketball posted a strong 21-11 record overall and 11-7 record in ACC play last year.

The roster has experienced quite a bit of turnover from last season, fielding only two players having clocked more than 100 minutes last year. Those players are senior center Nerea Hermosa and junior guard Eylia Love. With other players needing to step up in absence of those that have graduated, Tech has to look to newer players to help pick up some of the slack left behind. 

Hermosa started every game for the Jackets last season as a physical presence in the paint. Hermosa was second on the team in rebounds, averaging 5.6 per game, as well as having the second-most blocks on the team with 1.1 per game. While being an elite presence around the basket, Hermosa put up the most points on the team with ridiculous efficiency connecting on 50.3% of her field goals and 81.4% of her free throws.

Love, like Hermosa, played a key role in the Jackets’ success last season as she registered 30 minutes per game while averaging a steady 10.5 points per game. She scored just one fewer point than Hermosa on the season to just miss out on being the team’s leading scorer. She led the team from beyond the arc with her 40.4% three-point percentage. Despite being listed as a guard/forward, Love was aggressive in the paint, grabbing 4.8 rebounds per game.

Most of the focus will be on fifth-year guard Cameron Swartz, who is the reigning ACC Most Improved Player. Swartz is transferring in from Boston College where she was the Eagles’ leading scorer, averaging 16.1 points per game on very efficient splits of 35.5% from the three and 83.6% from the line. Her season highlight was the 39 points that she dropped in a game against Clemson. 

With three of the starting line up being set, the Jackets will need to rely on more newcomers in hopes of making their third NCAA tournament in a row. Joining Swartz as a transfer is Bianca Jackson from Florida State. With the Seminoles, Jackson averaged 6.7 points per game and shot 80% from the stripe.

Tech started the season by facing off against Clayton State in an exhibition game on Nov. 3 at McCamish Pavilion. Their first regular season game is against the Georgia State Panthers on Nov. 10 at 7 p.m. followed by another home, in-state matchup with Kennesaw State on Nov. 13. 

The Jackets then face off against Auburn and Georgia, with the Georgia game at home. After the first batch of games, Tech heads out to Estero, Fla., where they will take part in the Gulf Coast Showcase as they join the likes of Baylor, Saint Louis, Belmont, Villanova, Michigan, Air Force and USF.

After the Gulf Coast Showcase, Tech women’s basketball gets into the meat of their schedule where they will have at least one game a week until February, with exclusively conference games being played after the new year. Overall, it is a long season and the Jackets will be hoping to improve on their already impressive performance from last year and return to the NCAA Tournament.