On May 19, 2003, MaChelle Joseph was promoted to head coach of the Georgia Tech women’s basketball team with grand aspirations for a team that had made two NCAA tournament appearances in school history.
“We have everything it takes to be a national power in women’s basketball,” Joseph said. “We’re obviously at the beginning stages, but we have the vision to get there, and we have all the resources.”
It has taken nine years, but Joseph provided the most credible affirmation of her plans Tuesday night. In Chapel Hill, N.C., the No. 4 seed Jackets administered a 76-64 lashing of No. 5 Georgetown in the second round of the NCAA tournament to reach their first-ever regional semifinal. Tech had earned NCAA bids in each of the past five seasons but had fallen short each time.
The Jackets won in typical Joseph fashion, pushing the tempo with pressure defense that netted them seven steals and forced 15 turnovers.
Tech took the lead with 5:48 to play in the first half on a jumper by center Sasha Goodlett and never trailed again. The Jackets’ lead in the second half was never less than eight points.
“Ever since we came in, we wanted to do something special. We wanted to leave our mark on this program,” said Goodlett, part of a five-member senior class that has now won a school-record 95 games in four years. “We came in thinking, `We have to make it to the Sweet 16. We have to take this program somewhere it’s never been.’ We don’t have any excuses.”
Freshman sub Sydney Wallace led the Jackets for the second game in a row with 23 points, including five 3-pointers. Wallace mashed Sacred Heart in the first round with 28 points, including 6-of-8 shooting from 3-point range. Wallace sank 26 3-pointers in her first 31 games; she has 11 in the past two.
Tech will play undefeated and top-seeded Baylor Saturday in the Des Moines, Iowa, regional semifinal. Baylor is led by post player Brittney Griner, the favorite for national player of the year who Tuesday night became the second player to dunk in a women’s tournament game in the Bears’ 76-57 win over Florida. The 6-foot-8 Griner has leveled everything in her path, averaging 23.1 points per game (on 61.3 percent shooting) with 9.2 rebounds and 5.1 blocks per game. The Bears have won all but four of their games by double digits.
Thanks for reading.
Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech blog