ACC in WNIT: All Four Teams Secure First Round Wins on Thursday

Georgia Tech Downs Mercer; Advances in WNIT

THE FLATS – The Georgia Tech women’s basketball team (20-12) downed Mercer (24-9) 73-56 on Thursday evening during the first round of the WNIT at McCamish Pavilion.

“I thought we did a good job of getting our seniors the ball in the middle of the floor,” head coach MaChelle Joseph said. “I thought Mercer had a hard time with Roddreka Rogers. She basically fouled out their center and two of their other post players had four fouls. I thought it was because she is just so physical down there going after rebounds. She had 15 rebounds and basically dominated the paint on both ends.”

The win was the 20th victory of Georgia Tech’s season, marking Joseph’s eighth 20 win season of her 13 year career. The Yellow Jackets host Tulane on Monday at 7 p.m. at McCamish Pavilion for the WNIT second round.

How it Happened
Junior Katarina Vuckovic scored the Yellow Jackets’ first four points and scored six of Georgia Tech’s 16 points in the first quarter. The Yellow Jackets led by just one, 16-15, after the first 10 minutes of play but a 13-4 run towards the end of the second quarter would give the Yellow Jackets a 27-19 lead. Tech went into halftime with an eight point lead, 29-21.

In the third frame, the Yellow Jackets pulled ahead by as much as 13, 43-30, but the Bears clawed back to get within four points, 48-44, at the end of the quarter. After holding Mercer to just six points in the second period, the Bears scored 23 against the Jackets in the third.

However, the Yellow Jackets came out hot in the beginning of the fourth period, outscoring the Bears 10-2 over 3:55 to jump ahead 58-46. The Jackets held the Bears scoreless for the first 2:57 of the fourth frame. Tech would outscore Mercer 10-1 over the final 2:19 to record a 73-56 victory.

The win against Mercer puts the Yellow Jackets at 20-12 this season, marking the eighth 20 win season of head coach MaChelle Joseph’s 13 year career. The Yellow Jackets now have an overall 7-4 record in the WNIT and are 2-1 in the tournament under Joseph. Georgia Tech is now 14-21 overall in the postseason and 7-8 under Joseph’s direction.

Super Scorer
Against Mercer, senior Aaliyah Whiteside moved into second all-time on Tech’s single season scoring list with 619 points. She surpassed former Yellow Jacket Tyaunna Marshall’s 609 points for second. Her 17 points tonight marked her 37th time scoring in double figures in the past 39 games. It was her 22nd time this season leading the Yellow Jackets in scoring.

Roddreka’s Rebounds
Roddreka Rogers recorded her seventh double-double of the season and the 24th of her career, scoring 15 points and grabbing a team-high 15 rebounds. It was the 17th time this season she has led the Jackets in rebounding. Her 24 career rebounds are tied for the lead among all active ACC players.

Career High for Tilford
Sophomore Imani Tilford tallied a career-high 12 points and grabbed a career-best nine rebounds against the Bears. She has now scored in double figures in three of the past five games. Her previous career-high was 11 points against Wake Forest on Feb. 28, 2016. She has scored at least 10 points in four games this season.

Tech Tidbits
This was the 21st all-time meeting against Mercer. Georgia Tech leads the all-time series 15-6 and has won 14 of the past 15 meetings, including eight-straight.
This is the second-straight year that the Yellow Jackets have advanced to the second round of the WNIT.
Tonight’s win was the 252nd win of head coach MaChelle Joseph’s career. She is Tech’s all-time winningest coach and is 252-161 in her career.
Four Yellow Jackets scored in double-figures tonight – Whiteside (17), Rogers (15), Tilford (12) and Vuckovic (12).

Moving Through The Record Book
  • With her 15 rebounds against Mercer, Roddreka Rogers has 956 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 17 points against the Bears, Aaliyah Whiteside has 1,555 career points and is ninth on Georgia Tech’s all-time scoring list. Whiteside needs two more points to tie Joyce Pierce for eighth with 1,557 career points.
  • Whiteside is now second all-time on Tech’s single season scoring list with 619 points. She surpassed former Yellow Jacket Tyaunna Marshall’s 609 points for second.
  • Whiteside became the all-time leader in career free throws against Boston College. Tonight she went 9-for -9 from the foul line and has 492 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 107 made 3-pointers in her career.

Next Up
The Yellow Jackets play Tulane in the second round of the WNIT at McCamish Pavilion on Monday at 7 p.m.

Virginia Rallies for a 52-50 Victory at VCU

RICHMOND, Va. - The Virginia women's basketball team (17-15, 6-10 ACC) advanced to the second round of the 2016 Women's National Invitation Tournament with a 52-50 victory over VCU (23-10, 11-6 Atlantic 10) on Thursday, (March 17) in Richmond, Va.

The Cavaliers trailed by nine points, 48-39, with 6:15 remaining, erasing the remainder of the deficit on a three-pointer from redshirt sophomore J'Kyra Brown (Rocky Mount, N.C.) with 1:42 remaining. After a score by the Rams, senior Faith Randolph (Derwood, Md.) retied the game by hitting a jumper with 39 seconds remaining. Randolph then grabbed a steal, giving the Cavaliers the possession with the shot clock off. Randolph drove to the rim, taking a shot with 1.8 second remaining and drawing a foul on the attempt. Randolph headed to the line and made both free throws to put the Cavaliers ahead 52-50. VCU took a timeout and advanced the ball, taking a desperation three at the buzzer that fell short of the rim.

"We knew that we needed to get stops down the stretch," Randolph said. "Lauren Moses kept telling us throughout the game `Don't give up. Don't give up.' That's what we did. We went out, got stops and were able to convert on the other end."

The Cavaliers will play at Rutgers in the second round on Sunday, March 20 at 2 p.m.

Randolph finished the game with 21 points, going 7-of-15 overall and 3-of-6 from three-point range. Randolph also had five rebounds, three assists and two steals. Brown and sophomore Aliyah Huland El (Randolph, N.J.) each scored eight points.

Galaisha Goodhope led VCU with 12 points. Jessica Ogunnorin scored nine points with 11 rebounds.

Virginia shot 37.0 percent (17-of-46) while VCU shot 35.1 percent (20-of-57). The Rams outrebounded the Cavaliers 40-28, including holding a 7-1 advantage in the first five minutes.

"This was a really exciting win," said Virginia head coach Joanne Boyle. "VCU is a great team who was a very tough opponent. I am very proud and thankful to come away with a win."

The Rams went on a 7-0 run in the first quarter to take a 15-10 lead. Randolph hit a three-pointer with 22 seconds left in the period to make it an 18-15 deficit heading into the second quarter. VCU was held scoreless for the first 3:30 of the second quarter with a jumper just inside the three-point line from sophomore Breyana Mason (Woodbridge, Va.) giving the Cavaliers a 19-18 lead with 8:12 remaining in the half. Virginia lead 23-22 when VCU mounted a 7-0 run. Randolph ended a 3:46 UVA scoring drought when she hit a three-pointer with 31.4 seconds remaining, sending the Cavaliers into the break down 30-26.

The Rams scored the first six points of the second half with Randolph ending a 4:19 second scoring drought with a pull-up jumper. VCU outscored the Cavaliers 13-8 in the third quarter to extend its lead to 43-34 heading into the fourth.

Virginia trailed by 11 points, 47-36, with 7:32 remaining. A pair of free throws from Brown started a 9-2 Virginia run that included four-straight points from Randolph. Virginia outscored VCU 18-7 in the fourth quarter.

This is the Cavaliers' sixth overall WNIT appearance and their second-consecutive. Virginia has made four trips to the quarterfinals (2006, 2007, 2011, 2012), but fell in the first round last season with a 59-52 loss at Old Dominion.

Hokies advance in WNIT with victory over Elon

BLACKSBURG, Va. - The Virginia Tech women’s basketball team recorded its first postseason tournament victory since 2007 as they defeated Elon 68-59 on Thursday night.

The Hokies, playing in the WNIT for the first time since 2007, used a 5-0 run to distance themselves and take a 48-42 lead with three seconds left in third period. The Hokies were able to prevent the Phoenix from getting closer than five points the rest of the game.

“We looked like we’ve had two weeks off in the beginning, but a lot of players made great plays tonight during the game. Rachel [Camp] deserves a lot of credit, she’s been a little frustrated with me and her playing time and I just said to her in the locker room, ‘One of the best ways to show your coach you can play is to play as well as she played today’,” head coach Dennis Wolff said.

Chanette Hicks had five steals and in the process set the new program record for steals in a season, breaking Lisa Witherspoon’s previous record of 86 in 1998-99. Hannah Young also set a record tonight, breaking the senior record for 3-pointers made in a season with 71 currently. She broke the old record of 70 set by Jeni Garber in 1990-91.

Camp had a season-high 29 points and five rebounds to lead all scorers. Three other Hokies were in double figures as Young had 11 points and six rebounds. Regan Magarity had 10 points and nine rebounds while Sidney Cook had 12 points and nine rebounds.

The Hokies shot 41.7-percent from the field and held the Phoenix to 37.5-percent shooting. Tech also won the rebounding battle 38-36.

Taijah Campbell, who was unable to play due to an injury, started the game for the Hokies before being subbed out at the first deadball.

“I want to thank Elon’s coaches for allowing us to start Taijah. She was part of our first recruiting class and for her to get into the game meant a lot to her and our team,” Wolff said.

Elon opened the scoring and took a 13-7 lead midway through the first quarter. The Phoenix would eventually extend the advantage to 18-10 with 4:27 left in the stanza before the Hokies had a 5-0 run to cut it to 18-15. Tech ended the quarter with a jumper from Camp and a 3-pointer from Sidney Cook and the Hokies trailed 22-20.

The Phoenix went on a 7-0 run in second quarter to take a 29-20 lead but the Hokies held Elon scoreless for the last 3:32 of the half. The Hokies defense allowed them go on an 11-0 run that culminated with a Camp layup at the buzzer to give the Hokies a 31-29 lead at the break.

The Hokies will now travel to face the Ohio Bobcats on Sunday at 2 p.m. in Athens, Ohio for the WNIT Second Round.

Deacs Edge Charlotte 72-69 in WNIT

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Amber Campbell hit a three-pointer with two minutes to go and Wake Forest women's basketball's defense came up big down the stretch as the Demon Deacons earned a 72-69 victory over Charlotte on Thursday night inside Halton Arena in the first round of the WNIT.

Trailing by one entering the fourth quarter, Wake Forest and Charlotte battled back and forth until the 49ers led by two at 63-61 with 4:53 to play. From there, Wake Forest went on a 6-0 run with a layup from Ataijah Taylor, a layup by Milan Quinn and a jumper by Ariel Stephenson to go up 67-63. After two free throws by Kira Gordon cut the lead to two, Campbell knocked down a the big three-pointer in front of the Demon Deacon bench that ultimately sealed the deal.

Down the stretch, Wake Forest's defense came up big as Charlotte's final four points came via free throws and the Deacs came up with two steals in the final two seconds to keep Charlotte from getting a real chance at tying the contest. The 49ers ended up missing each of their last four shots and went 1-for-6 from the floor to finish the game as the Deacs advanced to the second round.

The victory moves Wake Forest to 17-15 on the season and secures Wake Forest's first winning season under fourth-year head coach Jen Hoover. The 17 wins is the most since the Demon Deacons won 20 games in 2011-12, which was also the last time Wake Forest went to the postseason. Charlotte's season ends at 19-12 after the first-round loss. The Demon Deacons are now 3-0 all-time in the WNIT against Charlotte having previously posted wins in 2005 and 2012 over the 49ers. All-time, the Deacs are now 4-4 in the WNIT.

Wake Forest fell down early after back-to-back three pointers by Lefty Webster in the first quarter to make it a 13-7 lead for Charlotte. The Deacs responded with tough defense and a 6-0 run over a 1:29 span of action that saw the Deacs tie the game with a Stephenson jumper. The two teams traded one more bucket throughout the final 3:22 of the quarter as the Deacs and 49ers ended the first quarter tied at 15.

To open the second, Charlotte's Grace Hunter and Ciara Gregory knocked down consecutive three-pointers to jump out to a six-point lead at 21-15 just 55 seconds into the frame, but the Demon Deacons responded with a 14-2 run to gain their first lead of the night. The run started with a three from Taylor that hit the front of the rim and bounced in. Elisa Penna then hit the Deacs' next five points to tie the game and Destini Walker gave Wake Forest the lead with 4:51 to go in the half.

Capping the run with a free throw from Stephenson to make it 29-23 with 3:12 to go, the 49ers crawled back in with five-straight points from Gregory as Charlotte went on a 10-0 run to go back up by four with 47 seconds left in the half. During the run, Gregory hit two threes and a pair of free throws in scoring eight of the 49ers' 10 points on the run. The run ended with two free throws by Stephenson with 22 seconds left, cutting the Charlotte lead to 33-31 at halftime.

Charlotte opened the third quarter on an 8-2 run, but the resilient Deacs again fought back with a layup by Kandice Ball and a three-pointer by Walker to cut the lead back to 41-38. From there, the two teams traded buckets over the last 6:11 of the quarter but Campbell got loose on a fast-break opportunity and beat the buzzer with a layup to cut the Charlotte lead to one at 54-53 through three.

Campbell finished with a team-high 16 points to go with six rebounds. Penna recorded her third-career double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds while Stephenson and Walker both added 11 points to the win. Quinn just missed her third-straight double-double in finishing with nine points and nine rebounds. Two of Wake Forest's seniors -- Taylor and Ball -- came up big with Taylor adding eight points and Ball scoring six points to go with six rebounds. The six points for Ball are the most in a game since scoring eight against North Carolina on Jan. 21.

Charlotte was led by a game-high 21 points from Alexis Alexander on 10-of-16 shooting. Webster contributed 17 points on 6-of-12 shooting and Gregory rounded out the double-figure scorers with 11 points.

The Deacs were big on the glass with 45 rebounds to Charlotte's 34. Wake Forest's big difference maker came on the offensive glass, as the Deacs pulled down 22 offensive rebounds and scored 18 second-chance points.

Wake Forest's second-round matchup will be against either Florida Gulf Coast or Bethune-Cookman. Those two will battle it out in the first round on Friday night. The Deacs will take on either the Eagles or Wildcats on Monday. Time and location will be determined after the first round is completed Friday night.