Jackets weather the storm, beat Miami in OT

Sophomore guard Inés Noguero rises up over Miami guard Ja’Leah Williams to get the shot off. Noguero dropped eight points and hit two late three-pointers to help the Jackets clinch the road win. // Photo courtesy of Kevin Ortiz, GTAA

Coming off a three-game skid, Tech looked to end their regular season on a positive note on the road against the Miami Hurricanes. Miami bested the Jackets earlier in the season by two points; however, revenge was on Tech’s mind as they ran onto the court on Sunday afternoon. 

The first quarter saw an even exchange of points, with junior forward Kayla Blackshear scoring eight of the Jackets’ 14 points. Blackshear banked in the first six points for the team, but a two-minute drought ensued where freshman guard Rusne Augustinaite hit a jumper that gave the team a 9-5 lead. Miami responded promptly with a three-pointer and a layup to claim a 10-9 edge. Augustinaite came back with a clutch three-pointer to bolster Tech up 12-10. The teams exchanged points, and the buzzer sounded for the first quarter with a 14-14 tie. 

The second quarter was an outpour of scoring, with both teams refusing to give up a run of points to the other. The back-and-forth affair saw clutch shots from sophomore guard Tonie Morgan and senior guard Avyonce Carter. The Jackets led by as much as four, and it looked as if the team would pull away, but Miami roared back and took a late lead, putting the Hurricanes up 36-35 at the halfway point in an offense- heavy quarter that consisted of 43 combined points. 

The first half was evenly matched with nine lead changes and the Jackets’ largest lead being just four. Although there was an outpouring of scoring in the second half, Tech was reliant on Augustinaite and Blackshear. If the Jackets wanted to leave Miami with a win, they would need to get more scorers involved, like Morgan and sophomore guard Kara Dunn. 

The third quarter told the same story as the first half as Tech pushed the ball to the basket a bunch, however, they could not pull away from the Hurricanes. Blackshear continued to find the basket on layups and jumpers, but the defense was unable to shut down the Miami attack. With six lead changes in the third quarter, both teams delivered alternating punches, resulting in a 50-49 lead for Miami going into the fourth. The fourth quarter saw the lead alternate again, but Miami leaped to a threatening four-point lead with eight minutes to go. The Jackets rallied behind a pair of three-point baskets from sophomore guard Inés Noguero on back-to-back possessions. Going into the final two minutes, the game was knotted at 60, and Miami made an easy layup that pushed the Hurricanes up 62-60. With just 30 seconds to go, Dunn generated contact on her shot and got the foul call from the referee. Banking in both free throws, Dunn tied the game at 62. The defense stepped up big and gave the Jackets an opportunity, but Noguero’s jumper was off. 

Going into overtime, the Jackets needed to play flawless defense and score fast. Fifth-year guard Sydney Johnson nailed a three-point shot out the gate, and the defense would lock up. Not allowing Miami to score for the first four minutes of the overtime period, the Jackets maintained a solid five-point lead going into the final minute. Up 67-62, Tech stifled the Miami attack and hit their free throw shots as they coasted through the overtime period and cashed in a 71-66
 road win over the Hurricanes. 

The Jackets banked in 17 of their 19 free throws, and Morgan finished with a double-double on 16 points and 10 rebounds. Blackshear was not far behind with 18 points and nine rebounds. Six different players made a three-point basket for Tech as they hit eight threes in total. Tech will be back in action for the ACC Tournament with their season on the line on Wednesday, March 6 against  a  8-32 Pittsburgh Panthers team that has largely struggled throughout the year. It has not been the cleanest season for the Jackets, but anything can happen in the tournament.