@GTWBB Holds off Pittsburgh, 66-60
The Yellow Jackets won their third-straight game, defeating Pitt 66-60
PITTSBURGH – The Georgia Tech women’s basketball team (17-11, 7-8) held off a late Pittsburgh rally to defeat the Panthers (12-16, 4-11) 66-60 on Thursday night at the Petersen Events Center.
“Zaire O’Neil had a huge game for us,” head coach MaChelle Joseph said. “I thought she carried us. That layup she got at the end when we were only up two I thought was huge. It caused a separation that helped us win the basketball game. I thought all night long she got it done on both ends, both offensively and defensively. She looked like her old self again.”
How it Happened
The first period started off slow for both teams as the Jackets and Panthers failed to have much success finding the basket. After both teams went scoreless for 3:34 in the final minutes of the period, the Panthers scored a layup with six seconds left to go up, 10-9. Thanks to junior Katarina Vuckovic, the Yellow Jackets wouldn’t head into the second period down, for the Smederevo, Serbia, native drained a long-range 3-pointer as time expired to give Tech a 12-10 lead after the first 10 minutes of play. Vuckovic scored seven of Georgia Tech’s 12 point points in the first period.
The Yellow Jackets built upon their lead in the beginning of the second period, holding the Panthers scoreless for almost four minutes to go ahead 18-10. Sophomore Zaire O’Neil was a key factor in the second period, scoring 10 of Tech’s 19 points in the frame. Vuckovic also hit double figures before the half, scoring 10, and the Jackets went into the break with a 31-18 advantage.
The Panthers made it a nine point game, 31-22, at 8:24 in the third frame, but the Jackets answered with a 9-2 run to pull ahead, 40-24. Pittsburgh wound up outscoring the Jackets in the third period, 22-21, but Georgia Tech had a 52-40 lead after 30 minutes of play.
The Yellow Jackets led by at least 10 points until the Panthers cut their deficit to just eight points at 58-50 with 5:39 left on the clock. The Panthers would continue to chip at Georgia Tech’s lead and used an 8-0 run to come within two, 60-58, with 1:00 remaining. With 26 seconds on the clock, O’Neil made one of her signature spin moves and put in a layup to give Tech the four point advantage, 62-58. Whiteside went 4-for-4 from the free throw line in the final 18.7 seconds to cement Tech’s 66-60 victory and third-straight win. Whiteside is shooting 83.7 percent (36-for-43) from the free throw line in the final five minutes of games.
Four in Double Figures
Georgia Tech had four players score in double figures in the win. Junior Katarina Vuckovic led the way with 18 points on 8-for-12 shooting. She scored in double figures for the 13th time this season and the third-straight game. When Vuckovic scores in double-figures, the Jackets are 12-1. Sophomore Zaire O’Neil tallied 16 points and grabbed a team-high six rebounds. She scored in double digits for the fourth time this season and her 16 points were a season-high. Sophomore Imani Tilford tied her career-high 10 points while senior Aaliyah Whiteside also scored 10, going 8-for-8 from the foul line.
Clutch from the Charity Stripe
Senior Aaliyah Whiteside went 4-for-4 from the foul line in the final 18.7 seconds to secure the Yellow Jackets win at Pitt. Whiteside is shooting 83.7 percent (36-for-43) from the free throw line in the final five minutes of games and is 84.8 percent from the line overall (184-for-217). Whiteside has only missed 33 free throws the entire season and has shot 100 percent from the charity stripe seven times this season.
- This was the fourth all-time meeting against Pittsburgh. The all-time series is tied at 2-2 and Georgia Tech is 2-0 when playing in Pittsburgh.
- Whiteside has now scored in double-figures in 33 out of the past 35 games, dating back to last season.
Moving Through The Record Book
- With her six rebounds against Clemson, Roddreka Rogers has 916 career rebounds and is in third on Georgia Tech’s all-time rebounding list. She is the third Yellow Jacket in women’s basketball history to have at least 900 career rebounds. Dolores Bootz is second on the all-time list with 978 career rebounds.
- After scoring 10 points against the Panthers, Aaliyah Whiteside has 1,480 career points and is ninth on Georgia Tech’s all-time scoring list. Whiteside needs 77 more points to tie Joyce Pierce for eighth with 1,557 career points.
- Whiteside became the all-time leader in career free throws against Boston College. Tonight she went 8-for-8 from the foul line and has 470 career made free throws. Heading into tonight’s game, Whiteside ranked second in the nation in career free throws made and was ninth in career free throws made among active players in the NCAA.
- Whiteside is also 10th on Georgia Tech’s all-time 3-pointers made list with 102 made 3-pointers in her career.
Georgia Tech returns home to host Wake Forest on Sunday at 2 p.m. on ESPN3. Georgia Tech will honor its four seniors prior to the start of the game in honor of senior night.