GREENSBORO, N.C. – Despite blowing a 14-point lead late in the second half and handing Virginia the final shot of the game, the seventh-seeded Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets survived an upset scare from 10th-seeded Virginia with a 77-76 victory in the second round of the ACC Tournament on Thursday night at the Greensboro Coliseum.
Following a three-point play by Aaliyah Whiteside that gave Tech the lead (77-74) with less than 14 seconds remaining, Virginia looked to send the contest to overtime on a 3-point attempt by guard Lexie Gerson. Jackets' forward Nariah Taylor, though, blocked the shot.
As the ball sailed out of bounds, Taylor was whistled for a technical foul for taunting the opposing bench. The call gave Virginia two foul shots and the ball with 3.7 seconds remaining.
Senior Ataira Franklin made both free throws resulting from the technical and left the Cavaliers down by one. On the ensuing inbound play, Georgia Tech guard Kaela Davis interrupted an entry pass that left Franklin scrambling for a shot that fell short as the buzzer sounded to give the Jackets a victory that earned them a ticket to a Friday quarterfinals matchup versus Duke at 6 p.m.
After the Cavaliers jumped out to an early five point lead (13-8) in the first half, Georgia Tech's offense began to find its groove following a 7-of-20 (.350) shooting performance to begin the contest.
Fueled by the sharpshooting of guards Kaela Davis and Tyaunna Marshall, the Jackets connected on 10 of their final 19 shots to close out the first half with a 38-34 lead.
At one point, Davis had scored 18 of Georgia Tech's first 30 points, while the duo completed the half by scoring 30 of the team's 38 points. As a tandem, Marshall and Davis hit 13-of-28 shots (.464 percent), while the rest of the Jackets made just 4-of-11 shots.
Marshall and Davis wasted little time in picking up where they left off in the first half, as they helped double Tech's lead to eight within the opening two minutes of the first half. The flurry of points forced Virginia head coach Joanne Boyle to take a timeout to slow the burst of momentum.
The stoppage, however, did little to slow the Jackets' offense, as they were able to run off five consecutive points that helped them open up a double-digit lead (50-39) with 16:28 remaining in the game.
With the lead stretched out to 14 points (57-43), Georgia Tech's offense began to cool near the mid-point of the second half. Virginia responded with a counterpunch that was started by guard Kelsey Wolfe. With the shot clock expiring, Wolfe gathered a pass from Gerson, split two defenders and hit a running 3-point basket to cut the lead back to single digits.
As momentum beginning to lean in their favor, the Cavaliers quickly chipped away at the Jackets' lead. Forward Sarah Imovbioh brought the Virginia bench to its feet with a three-point play with 5:26 left that cut the lead to two (68-66).
After Georgia Tech's Dawn Maye stopped the Cavaliers' surge with a shot from the just outside the foul line, Virginia again came roaring back, as it evened the contest on a jumper by Breyana Mason with 3:31 remaining.
In helping the Jackets' improve to 20-10 on the season, Davis (28 points) and Marshall (26) scored 54 of the Jackets' 77 points.