No. 11 Georgia Tech Upsets Sixth-Seeded Miami, 79-62
March 3, 2006
GREENSBORO - Chioma Nnamaka scored 10 points in a span of 3:13 down the stretch as Georgia Tech pulled off the only major upset of the opening round of the ACC Women's Tournament, stunning sixth-seeded Miami 79-62 Thursday night.
The 11th seeded Yellow Jackets (14-14) led most of the way after narrowly losing to the Hurricanes (16-12) in double overtime four days ago in Miami. It was only the sixth win for the program in the tournament in 32 games.
"I don't know if this makes us the Cinderella team of the tournament or not," said Georgia Tech coach MaChelle Joseph. "It's just a special win for my team.
"We've had highs and lows this year, but deep down we know we're a good team. We knew we could compete against anybody. We just haven't gotten the breaks at times this year. But you create your own breaks and that's what we talked about. This is a new season, a new opportunity for us."
Georgia Tech now advances to the quarterfinals Friday against third-seeded Maryland.
Miami shot just 32.3 percent and turned the ball over 20 times. Georgia Tech also held a 47-31 advantage on the boards.
"We picked a bad time to have one of our worst execution performances of the year," said Miami coach Katie Meier.
Nnamaka, the leading scorer for the Yellow Jackets, was 0-for-5 in the first half and had missed all six of her shots before hitting a pair of 3-pointers, a 17-foot jumper and a driving layup to help fuel an 18-5 run that pushed a 51-50 Georgia Tech lead to 14 points with 1:33 left.
"She had her head down in a timeout and I said, `Chioma, look at me, look at me in the eyes,"' Joseph said. "I said, `You've got to shoot the ball. The key words here are game and play. You've got play and it's just a game, don't make it any more serious than that.' She puts so much pressure on herself. She looked up at me and I just saw it. I knew she was going to come out and hit her next shot."
Stephanie Higgs was also a key contributor in the clutch, scoring on a layup and six free throws in a four-minute stretch en route to 22 points and 10 rebounds.
ACC scoring leader Tamara James had 37 points in the recent double OT victory against the Yellow Jackets, but was held to 18 this time on just 6-for-15 shooting.
"This just hurts," James said. "I didn't want my senior year to end like this."
Georgia Tech won despite 23 turnovers and just two assists.
"We did a great job of attacking in transition," Joseph said. "That was one of the things we worked on from Sunday's game. I thought our three guards really handled their pressure well."
"We just came prepared this time," added Higgs. "Playing a team three times in one season you are used to playing them. Coach gave us a special game plan today. We just wanted to stop James and make everybody else score. I think we did that."