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COLLEGE HOOPS: Ga. Tech women rout Va. Tech in ACC tourney opener; Yellow Jackets stomp Wake Forest on road

Photo by Chuck Burton

Photo by Chuck Burton

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Georgia Tech came to the Atlantic Coast Conference women's basketball tournament looking for some recognition, if not a national ranking.

The fifth-seeded Yellow Jackets wasted no time taking a convincing step toward both.

Tyaunna Marshall and Alex Montgomery scored 14 points each to help Georgia Tech rout Virginia Tech 81-58 on Thursday in a first-round game.

Mo Bennett and Metra Walthour added 10 points each for the Yellow Jackets (22-9), who advanced to the quarterfinals for the fifth time in six seasons. They will face No. 13 Maryland (23-6), the No. 4 seed, on Friday in a quarterfinal.

"We were very focused on what we came in here to do, and that was to earn some respect for our program," Georgia Tech coach MaChelle Joseph said. "We've played a top-20 schedule. All year we've beaten top-20 teams but have not been able to get ranked in the Top 25 for some reason."

The Yellow Jackets actually were ranked No. 25 for three consecutive weeks earlier this season, but they dropped out of the poll after losing to the Terrapins 56-53 on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer early last month. Now comes the rematch.

"I'm very excited," Montgomery said. "We let one slip away. It's payback time. We've got to make a statement, and we've got to come out here and play our roles, and we've got to come out here to win."

The Yellow Jackets never trailed against Virginia Tech, opening the game with an 11-1 run en route to a 40-14 halftime lead.

Georgia Tech made a season-high nine 3-pointers and forced Virginia Tech into a season-high 33 turnovers.

"We've had good games breaking the press -- our previous game against Georgia Tech we had (13) turnovers for the game -- and then we had today," Virginia Tech coach Beth Dunkenberger said. "Obviously, we struggled with their full-court pressure."

Nikki Davis scored all 15 of her points in the second half to lead the Hokies (11-19). Shanel Harrison and Elizabeth Basham had 10 points each for Virginia Tech, which ended its season with 15 losses in its final 17 games.

The 12th-seeded Hokies, who were 1-13 in conference play during the regular season, finished with the second-most losses in their program's history.

"It was tons of turnovers on the offensive end," Davis said. "Georgia Tech came out aggressive and hit us before we were able to hit them first."

Montgomery sparked Georgia Tech's quick start, scoring eight points during her team's initial spurt. She followed her basket on the Yellow Jackets' first possession with a pair of 3-pointers, giving Georgia Tech an 11-1 lead five minutes into the game.

"I told the kids I thought the first five minutes were going to be crucial, and I thought they came out and really made a statement," Joseph said.

The Hokies, who missed their first seven shots from the field, finally broke through on a jumper by Nia Evans with 14:58 remaining. But the Yellow Jackets turned up their defensive pressure, igniting a 13-2 run that blew open the game.

Virginia Tech committed turnovers on six consecutive possessions, the last of which led to two free throws by Marshall that gave the Yellow Jackets a 31-9 lead with 4:29 left in the half.

The Hokies shot 21 percent from the field and had one assist and 22 turnovers in their lowest-scoring first half of the season.

Georgia Tech enjoyed a 38-10 advantage in points off turnovers for the game.

"The whole program goes off the defense, and we go as our defense goes," Montgomery said. "We got stops, and that's what we fed off."