Following a nail-biter win over top-25 opponent North Carolina State on Thursday night, the women’s basketball team traveled to Coral Gables, Fla. to take on the University of Miami. The Jackets hoped to continue the momentum from their upset and defeat a hot Hurricane squad.
The game was close the whole way. Miami took a first quarter lead, but the Jackets were quick to respond, shrinking that lead to only one at the half. The Jackets’ run was due in part to a fantastic play by senior center Nerea Hermosa and a buzzer beater three by freshman guard Tonie Morgan. This buzzer beater topped off a 13-4 run for the Jackets to close the half.
Tech came out firing again in the second half, and with the help of a four-point play by fifth-year guard Cameron Swartz, the Jackets stayed within one point of the Hurricanes. When the Hurricanes strengthened their lead again with time dwindling, Swartz scored again to close the deficit. Swartz finished the game with 19 points, but her stellar scoring was not enough to chase down the Hurricanes, as Miami ended victorious with a final tally of 64-58.
The Jackets’ struggle on the glass and getting out-rebounded 51-25 was a central reason for the close loss. Other than Swartz, Tech was led by sophomore forward Kayla Blackshear with 12 points and Morgan with 10. Following a game on Feb. 9 against the Clemson Tigers, the Tech women will face off at home against Pitt on Sunday, Feb. 12.
On the men’s side, after dropping to the Louisville Cardinals (3-20, 1-11 ACC) in the KFC Yum! Center on Wednesday, Feb. 1, the crew traveled to Raleigh to face off against an explosive North Carolina State team (19-5, 9-4 ACC). The Jackets were hoping to make this game their fifth consecutive win on the Wolfpack’s home court.
The Wolfpack, led by head coach Kevin Keatts, came out of the gates slow as the Jackets took a quick lead (19-11) thanks to threes from senior guard Kyle Sturdivant and sophomore guard Miles Kelly. That lead did not last for long as graduate forward DJ Burns Jr. — a 6’9”, 275 lbs Winthrop transfer — began his takeover of the game. While only averaging 12.1 points per game in this season for the Wolfpack, Burns finished with 24 points, many of those coming in clutch minutes of the game.
Although Tech’s lead gave way towards the end of the first half, the Jackets started the second half only down by six points, a deficit that was within reaching distance. Head Coach Josh Pastner got exactly what he hoped for in the second half, as at the twelve minute mark, Kelly hit a three to shrink the lead to just three. Then, minutes later, senior forward Ja’von Franklin took advantage of the slower Burns, as he slammed home a dunk in transition to give the Jackets their first lead of the game since the 2:43 mark of the first half. Franklin starred in the game finishing with 16 points, eight rebounds, five assists and five blocks. Pastner stuck with Franklin instead of playing senior center Rodney Howard and junior forward Jordan Meka because of Franklin’s role in the transition offense and ability to run the court much faster than Burns.
Franklin’s performance did not prove enough for the Jackets, who grew cold late, to pull ahead; the Wolfpack, led by both Burns and senior guard Casey Morsell, capitalized on the miscues. Tech’s 17 turnovers versus NC State’s nine, and the Wolfpack’s 16 bench points versus zero from the Jackets ended up being the key differences in the game. With these advantages, NC State triumphed by a margin of 72-64 to improve to fourth in the ACC. This was Tech’s ninth straight loss, and this defeat dropped them to last in the ACC.
The Jackets marched into McCamish riding their worst losing streak since 1981 to take on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in a rematch on Wednesday night. Tech traveled to South Bend earlier in the season, falling just one point short in overtime to the Irish, so the team saw this game as an opportunity for revenge. Tech emerged victorious from the court 70-68 following a last second tip-in from senior guard Lance Terry. An eruption ensued from the loyal Tech fans following the win. Terry played the whole game and led the team in scoring 19 points. Franklin also knocked down 16 points with 9 rebounds. Junior guard Deivon Smith joined in on the fun, coming off the bench to knock down eight points, nine rebounds, and seven assists. The Jackets played a great game all around, battling back and forth with Notre Dame the whole time. This is Tech’s second ACC win of the year and it moves them to 9-15 on the season. This was huge for the team’s morale and should give them some confidence going into their game on the road against Wake Forest. The Jackets will not have much time to rest in the coming days. Catch them in action next in Winston-Salem, N.C. against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons at 5 p.m. on Feb. 11th.