Women’s basketball splits games in ACC roadtrip

Sophomore guard Kara Dunn goes up for the layup against a Clemson defender. The Jackets pulled out the ACC win by a score of 70-62 while Dunn dropped 19 points. // Photo courtesy of Catey Thurston Student Publications

On Thursday afternoon, the Clemson Tigers traveled to McCamish Pavilion to face Tech in a highly contested Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC)  battle. The Jackets came  into the matchup on a two-game winning streak, recording wins against ACC opponents Pittsburgh and Virginia. Their opponents, the Tigers, were coming off a two game losing streak. The game Thursday was in support of the Pat Summitt, an Alzheimer’s research foundation created in the name of longtime Tennessee women’s college basketball coach Pat Summitt. 

In the first quarter, the Jackets got off to a hot start from the three-point arc, connecting on 40% of their attempts from beyond the arc. Sophomore Tonie Morgan even hit a half court buzzer beater.. Up six after the first quarter, the Jackets stretched the lead to 10 with 6:42 to go in the second half. Clemson’s shooting woes in the first quarter lingered to the second; they missed seven of their next eight shots from three point range. Tech continued to shoot solidly on attempts from the field and took a nine point lead heading into the halftime break. 

Starting the second half, the Tigers began coming back into the game thanks to Clemson senior  Mackenzie Hunter and graduate student Amari Robinson. Hunter and Robinson would go on to finish the game with 18 and 19 points, respectively. The combination of Clemson’s improved shooting and foul trouble for the Jackets forced Tech to switch up their rotation for much of the third. While Morgan was not able to play a majority of the second half, fifth-year Sydney Johnson filled in as a facilitator, dishing out a  career high seven assists on zero turnovers. An eight point scoring run from the Tigers shrank the Jackets’ lead to four points heading into the final quarter. 

Before the start of the fourth, veteran Head Coach Nell Fortner gave her team some advice that ended up giving her squad the edge. Sophomore guard Kara Dunn had seven of her 19 points in a quick 11-2 run for the Jackets that put them ahead by double digits. While the Tigers tried to recover from this early run, threes from freshman Rusne Augustinaite and scoring from Dunn gave the Jackets an insurmountable lead. Even though the Jackets recorded a low three-point percentage of 29% , they shot 44% from the field and did enough
to get the 70-62 victory. 

After defeating the Tigers on Thursday night, the Jackets traveled up to Durham, NC to take on the Duke Blue Devils in Cameron Indoor Stadium. A Blue Devils win would have put them above a .500 record and given them a 3-2 ACC record. Unfortunately, the Jackets were not able to repeat Thursday’s performance.Immediately out of the gates the Jackets struggled, accumulating turnovers and giving the Blue Devils the ability to run in transition. Turnovers and ball security have been a weakness for the Jackets in their most recent games.

Even with the Jackets not playing their best basketball, they minimized the Blue Devils lead to just 12 going into the halftime break. The Blue Devils capitalized from deep in the first half – they hit  five of their first nine attempts from beyond the three-point arc. 

Starting the second half, the Jackets were unable to reverse the game’s trend and produce some  momentum. The game turned into a rout when Duke extended the lead to 20-plus heading into a pivotal fourth quarter. 

While the Jackets ended up losing 84-46, the deeper parts of the rotation got heavy minutes, leading to a career high in points from freshman Ariadna Termis. Even with the lopsided loss against the Blue Devils, the Jackets still sit at 3-2 in conference play and 12-5 overall. 

With the second third of ACC play still to come, the Jackets will need to improve their performance in order to have any chance of making the NCAA tournament. 

Tech will look to bounce back at home against the University of North Carolina Tar Heels this Thursday, Jan. 18th at 6pm in McCamish Pavilion.