With just under three minutes to play on Thursday night, Georgia Tech’s Kierra Fletcher sealed the deal for the Yellow Jackets, stealing the ball on a fast break and putting two more points on the board. The freshman’s layup extended GT’s lead to a comfortable 20 points and evoked a bit too much excitement—following the play, Fletcher was administered a technical for taunting and took her seat on the bench.
While Boston College women’s basketball’s two free throws gave it a pinch of inspiration, the 20-point lead was just too large to eradicate, and the Yellow Jackets rolled to a 67-43 win, their sixth-straight over BC. Perhaps the Eagles (6-18, 1-10 Atlantic Coast), who have now dropped nine in a row, would have had a chance if they kept care of the ball.
BC committed over 20 turnovers in the first half alone and 35 by the game’s end—a season high.
The game opened up with a slow start. Sitting in the bottom quartile of the ACC standings, both teams entered equally hungry for a win, yet also overtaken by nerves, as neither scored for more than two minutes. Trading possessions, the Eagles and Yellow Jackets (15-10, 4-8) struggled to organize themselves offensively.
Freshmen Milan Bolden-Morris finally delivered for BC, dropping two 3-pointers in response to GT’s game-opening bucket. Despite their initial success, the Eagles then failed to adjust to the Yellow Jackets’ full-court pressure, ultimately choking and giving up the lead. Although GT’s defensive pressure was effective, its success was threatened by its own doing: The Yellow Jackets gave up a whopping eight turnovers by the end of the first quarter. Even with these faults, they came out of the quarter on top with a four-point lead.
The second quarter began in a similar fashion as the first—again, both teams struggled to put points on the board and even just hold onto the ball. After two minutes of back-and-forth styled play, the Yellow Jackets finally settled in. Although they took some time to find their footing, they quickly began shutting the Eagles down defensively, routinely picking BC guards’ pockets. The steals turned into points, allowing GT to find its rhythm from the field.
Even though the Yellow Jackets’ lead was primarily a byproduct of improved shooting, the Eagles’ endless turnovers certainly played a role in the lopsided affair. Taylor Ortlepp responded to GT’s growing lead with a 3-pointer—one of her three on the night—but the rest of her teammates couldn’t buy a basket.
With two minutes left in the half, BC, on a four-minute scoreless streak, had already coughed the ball up 20-plus times. The Eagles’ inability to handle GT’s full-court pressure, coupled with their failure to shoot a high percentage, paved the way for what became a quite predictable loss. Consequently, the first half closed with a 14-6 Yellow Jackets run—one that extended GT’s lead to 12 before the break.
After being unable to adapt to the press in the first half, BC created a chance for redemption in the beginning of the third quarter. With just under five minutes left, the Eagles managed to cut their 14-point deficit to just four. Thanks to impressive offensive plays by Bolden-Morris, including a 3-pointer, BC earned its way back into the game.
But just as BC finally began to settle in, the Yellow Jackets stepped up their game. Bolden-Morris’s perimeter shots and Ortlepp’s crucial defensive plays were matched by a continuous stream of scoring from Georgia Tech’s seniors Imani Tilford and Zaire O’Neil. GT capped off the third quarter with a buzzer-beating jumpshot, adding two points to its eight-point lead.
Entering the final frame, BC still had a shot to orchestrate a comeback, but the Yellow Jackets quickly made it clear that it was their game for the taking. With a six-point run to open the quarter, their lead quickly stretched to 14 points. The combination of GT’s offensive success and BC’s lacking defense allowed the Yellow Jackets to cruise to the finish line and record their second-straight conference win after defeating Clemson over the weekend.
The Eagles, who failed to eclipse the 60-point mark for the sixth game in a row, were essentially a two-man show. Bolden-Morris and Ortlepp ended up logging 35 of the team’s 47 points. The rest of the team combined for just three field goals. That kind of scoring breakdown, in addition to 35 turnovers, is a recipe for disaster.
Featured Image by Keith Carroll / Heights Editor