France native Manon Cherubini led the South Georgia Tech women's basketball team with 19 points Thursday night against Albany Tech to improve the Lady Jets' conference record to a perfect 15-0 with just three games left.
AMERICUS — Meet Manon Cherubini.
She learned English in the last six months, but her perimeter shot came at a much earlier age. Her English still needs a little tweaking, but Cherubini’s 3-ball needed no translation Thursday in South Georgia Tech’s 58-35 trouncing of Albany Tech.
Cherubini, who hit five 3-pointers in the Lady Jets’ first win against Albany Tech this season, did it again at the Hangar, going 5-for-7 from beyond the arc with 19 points while leading South Georgia Tech to a perfect 15-0 mark in NJCAA Region XVII.
“She’s a phenomenal shooter,” Lady Jets head coach Brandan Harrell said of the freshman sharpshooter from St. Chamond, France. “I kid that there’s not much else she can do but shoot.”
If South Georgia Tech can win out in its last three games of the regular season, starting Monday at home against region No. 2 Darton, it will mark the first perfect region season in school history.
There wasn’t much else Cherubini needed to do Thursday against the Lady Titans, who shot just 28 percent from the floor and never got within single digits after trailing, 35-21, at halftime.
Keondra Greer and Lashay Lettingham led Albany Tech with eight points each.
South Georgia Tech’s Shontae McCall, who does everything for the Lady Jets, filled the box up again with 18 points, 10 rebounds and three steals.
“When we’re making shots, it makes everything a little bit easier,” said Harrell, whose team shot 54 percent in the opening 20 minutes. “We were fortunate enough to make some shots in the first half.”
The Lady Jets (19-8) led 10-0 out of the gate and then Cherubini’s rainbow 3s started to fall from the sky. The freshman forward went 4-for-4 from 3-point land in the first half and finished with a career high.
“It wasn’t easy, but we did a good job at the start,” said Cherubini, who has been in the states only six months and taught herself the language. She said she likes it in America because the “gym is open every day.”
With only three Region XVII games remaining, though, the Lady Jets aren’t worried about finishing the regular season conference slate unbeaten.
“We’re only worried about winning a championship and getting a ring,” Cherubini said.
South Georgia Tech, which has won 12 in a row, sits in first place ahead of Darton College and Georgia Perimeter College by three games and only needs one more win to clinch the top spot for the region playoff.
Harrell has had to rest second-leading scorer Shanique Holston for the past two games due to a nagging injury in her rib cage area. He said he won’t play her just to keep the region undefeated streak alive — an accomplishment everyone’s aware that the women’s program has never done before.
“If it comes down to winning a game or getting somebody healthy, we’re going to get somebody healthy,” said Harrell, who called going unbeaten in Region XVII impossible early in season. “It’s not something we talk about as a team.”
The Lady Jets’ biggest test the rest of the way will likely come Monday at the Hangar against Darton College.
ALBANY TECH MEN 57, SOUTH GEORGIA TECH 46: Albany Tech trailed most of the first 30 minutes, but its 12-deep bench eventually wore out the Jets on Thursday and allowed the Titans to find their stroke from long distance.
South Georgia Tech led by as many as nine points in the second half, but the Jets went 5:40 without a basket and lost the lead after Jamorris Gaines and Patrick Lewis connected on four treys late after shooting just four in the first half as a team.
“Last time we took a lot of (threes), so we wanted to focus on going inside more,” Albany Tech head coach Sylvester Patterson said. “We really wanted to try to get 30 (SGT’s Kentavious Clowers) in foul trouble. He killed us the first game.”
Clowers did indeed get into trouble, saddled with four personals in the second half and finished with just two points. The Jets led, 42-38, with 9:16 to play before their next basket, a Thomas Benson jumper, came with 3:38 left. By that point they trailed, 47-44, and that was before Gaines hit his third 3-pointer of the game with 2:06 left to build a 52-46 Titans’ lead.
Albany Tech (14-13, 8-7 NJCAA Region XVII) went on a 19-4 run to close out the game and Gaines, the former Worth County High star, had a game-high 17 points with five boards. Lewis closed with 10 points and six boards for the Titans, who next play host to Georgia Perimeter College Saturday.
South Georgia Tech was led by Phillip Flowers’ 12 points and 11 rebounds.