Short-handed due to injuries and suspensions — eight players dressed out, and only seven played — the Kennesaw State women were left undersized and outmanned Tuesday in a 91-54 loss to Georgia Tech at the Arena at Gwinnett Center.
Because of its lack of size, Kennesaw State (2-2) was limited to just one shot in most possessions as Georgia Tech (3-1) jumped on the Lady Owls early in both halves. The Yellow Jackets shot 70 percent (21-for-30) in the first half, 63.5 percent (40-for-62) for the game and scored a total of 72 points in the paint.
Twelve of the 13 players who saw playing time for Georgia Tech scored, with Tyaunna Marshall and Danielle Hamilton-Carter each scoring a team-high 14 points. Tjasa Gortner was also in double figures with 10 points, and Sydney Wallace and Mo Bennett each had nine.
Georgia Tech also outrebounded Kennesaw State 45-28, led by Hamilton-Carter’s 10.
Georgia Tech’s size advantage limited Kennesaw State down low, but the Lady Owls still managed to come away with a couple of double-digit scorers.
Freshman point guard Taylor Mills hit five 3-pointers for Kennesaw State and finished with 17 points. Fellow freshman Kristina Wells finished with 12 points and seven rebounds.
“I give credit to Kennesaw State. I really thought this was one of the better teams that they had,” Georgia Tech coach MaChelle Joseph said. “They are a little short-handed on the perimeter, and that’s tough to play a team like Georgia Tech. They had to press us for 40 minutes when they only had three or four guards.”
Kennesaw State didn’t shoot well in the first half — just 32.1 percent (9-for-28) — but its pressure defense prevented Georgia Tech from taking a huge lead early. The Lady Owls forced 10 first-half turnovers to stay in the game, but they couldn’t take advantage of most of them.
Only going 3-of-8 from the free-throw line in the first half also hurt.
There was a sequence in the first half when the Lady Owls made a run in the first half to get within four at 13-9.
Trailing by nine, Ashley Holliday made a steal that led to a Wells layup. Lisa Capellan then came up with a steal on Georgia Tech’s next possession before Holliday took advantage with a 3 from the right wing.
“What we were doing was making good decisions on half-court offense,” Kennesaw State coach Colby Tilley said. “Georgia Tech was gambling, and they would miss sometimes, and that would leave us open. That’s what got us back into it.”
The Yellow Jackets came through with six unanswered points on a pair of free throws and two inside jumpers to stretch their lead. Kennesaw State hung with Georgia Tech for a little longer before breaking away during the final 5 minutes of the half.
Georgia Tech ended the first half on a 13-3 run in the last 5 minutes. A Mills 3-pointer was the only Kennesaw State bucket during the stretch, and the Lady Owls trailed 51-25 at the break.
“I thought our kids worked hard,” Tilley said. “They were frustrated when they got down as much as they did. We only had six players. They got tired but worked through it.”
Kennesaw State’s fatigue showed in the second half as Georgia Tech opened with 11 unanswered points for a 61-25 lead. The Lady Owls didn’t get their first field goal in the second half until Tamasha Bolden hit a layup at the 11:52 mark.
Even though Kennesaw State improved its free-throw percentage in the second half — going 9-for-11 — the difference in size was too much to overcome.
“They are huge, and that means you have to use the strength that you have to box them out and then jump up and get the ball, and you’re using a lot of energy for that,” Wells said. “But coach always told me, ‘You’re going to have to work hard at it, and you’re going to have to get it.’”