Feb. 25, 2013
By Jon Cooper
Sunday was Senior Day at McCamish Pavilion. It's a cherished day every year dedicated to celebrating that year's senior class.
Ty Marshall made sure nothing would ruin the celebration for the class of 2013. She even supplied the fireworks!
Marshall scored a career-high 37 points and made two huge steals 27 seconds apart in the final 40 seconds, both resulting in breakaway layups to complete the Yellow Jackets' furious second-half rally from 15 down in their 68-64 win over Miami.
The 37 points are the highest-scoring game for a player in the ACC this season and the fourth-highest scoring game in Yellow Jackets history,
"It's a great way to send the seniors out," said Marshall, whose previous high was 28, set on Jan. 31 against Wake Forest. "I told them I wasn't going to let them lose this game today."
Marshall took care of business, hitting a career-high 18 field goals (her previous best was 12) and shooting 60 percent (18-of-30), while adding six rebounds and four steals.
"I thought she was unbelievable on both ends of the floor," said Head Coach MaChelle Joseph. "She did a tremendous job not only offensively but defensively. She got stops when we needed to have stops and she made shots when we needed to make shots. On a day when other people weren't scoring, she did a great job stepping up and making plays. Actually she put us on her back and carried us."
She carried the team, which shot a combined 26.1 percent (11-for-42), for the entire 40 minutes. Marshall scored 19 of Georgia Tech's 32 first-half points and was a big reason the Jackets only trailed 38-32 at the break.
In the second half it looked like as if even Marshall wouldn't be able to save the day, as the deficit climbed to 15, 54-39, with 12:21 to play.
But Marshall wouldn't let the Jackets fold — not these Jackets, not right now.
"I think at the beginning of the season, being a young, inexperienced team we might have folded a little bit," Marshall conceded. "But since we've been playing strong, we've been in this position many times. We just told ourselves we weren't going to be denied. We wanted a win and we wanted to keep our streak going. We want to win out the rest of the season. That's what we're going to do."
Trailing 60-47 with 7:41 to play, Tech went on an 12-0 run, with Marshall scoring six of the 12 points and adding an assist.
They Jackets would then shoot for the lead twice but couldn't convert either time. They then suffered a Miami possession that earlier on in the year would have broken their backs.
With 2:21 remaining, guard Michelle Woods ended Tech's run with a free throw. She missed the second, but senior forward Morgan Stroman, held to nine points by freshman Roddreka Rogers, got the offensive rebound and fed fellow senior Stefanie Yderstrom, who nailed a three from the corner, stretching the lead to 64-59. That shot was followed by a controversial offensive foul call on a driving basket by Marshall.
Undeterred, Tech kept coming.
They'd shut out the Hurricanes the rest of the way and make their final push. With 1:08 left, freshman Aaliyah Whiteside hit a three, her only one of the game, to pull Tech within two.
Then Marshall stripped Woods and went the length of the court to tie the game.
The final 38 seconds showed just how far this young team has come. Twice they thwarted Miami attempts to take the lead. On the first effort freshman center Nariah Taylor swatted away a shot by senior center Shawnice Wilson.
After Miami barely eluded being whistled for a five-second violation, sophomore guard Suriya McGuire, got trapped along the sideline. She lost the ball to Marshall, who tip-toed the sideline before taking it the distance.
"We had to get a stop," said Marshall, who began the game second in the conference with 2.8 steals per game. "We had her pinned in the corner and she was stuck. I got a break because the ball was inches from going out of bounds. So I just tipped it to myself, went and got it and made the layup.
"I think everybody had a great focus," she added. "We knew we had to get scores and stops to win this game and that's what we did. I'm just proud of everybody on this team, especially the people who were on the court the last 38 seconds."
Joseph said the decisive play was easy to sniff out.
"The play they actually ran was one of the plays that we worked on in a special situation in practice the day before," she said. "So I really felt confident when we were in that situation that we could get a stop."
Confidence is growing for the Yellow Jackets, who have won five of seven and three straight for the first time since late December.
"I think we're definitely getting better. We have a lot more confidence now because we've figured out how to win," said Joseph. "Success breeds success and I've said that since I started in this program 10 years ago. When you start winning it's easier to win and I think that's one of the things that happened.
"We were able to get a couple of wins on the road and get our confidence and then I thought we came out and we never thought we were going to lose," she continued. "That's the whole thing we've been trying to teach these freshmen from day one, is how to win and I think we're finally learning that."
The freshmen certainly did their part. Joseph pointed to the inspired play of Rogers, who pulled down 13 rebounds, her third straight double-digit rebounding game — a feat Joseph said was unprecedented for a freshman in conference play during her tenure at Georgia Tech — and Whiteside, whose three gave the team impetus during the final push. Then there was Taylor's late block and another strong effort by Brittany Jackson, whose seven points were second on the team.
It also was important to teach the freshmen to win on Senior Day.
While Marshall and Co. won on Sunday for forwards Jasmine Blain and Danielle Hamilton-Carter and guard Sharena Taylor, Joseph said there was a part of her that wanted payback from Miami for the senior class of 2011.
"Two years ago, when Alex Montgomery and Deja Foster were seniors, we lost on Senior Night to Miami," Joseph said. "It was one of the things we talked about. Not only was this important for these seniors but for the seniors that came before them because we take a lot of pride in representing our senior classes and getting wins on Senior Night."
Ty Marshall was a freshman that day. On Sunday, she made sure the current freshmen saw the importance of upholding the tradition of winning on Senior Day and how sometimes you just have to refuse to lose.