March 3, 2006
ACC Women’s Basketball Championship
Greensboro, NC – March 2, 2006
#11 Georgia Tech 79, #6 Miami 62
GEORGIA TECH YELLOW JACKETS
COACH MACHELLE JOSEPH: First of all, I want to give Miami a lot of credit. They are a very good basketball team. This is the third time this year, second time this week – I’m very familiar with their team and the great player Tamara James is. She has been an incredible player in the ACC for the past two years and we saw just how special she was last Sunday when she put 37 on us in Miami.
I thought my team did a great job today stepping up. We made some defensive adjustments. From the first time we played them, we were able to limit her touches throughout the game. I thought that was the key to the game.
But also I thought we did a great job of attacking in transition. That was one of the things we worked on from Sunday, and I thought our guards Stephanie Higgs, Jill Ingram, and Chioma Nnamaka, especially in the second half, I thought those three really handled their pressure well.
STEPHANIE HIGGS: I think we just came prepared this time playing a team three times in one season. You are used to playing them. Coach Jo gave us a special game plan today. I’m not going to tell you guys what it was. It really, really helped. We just wanted to stop James and make everybody else score. And I think we did that tonight.
Q. Does this make you the official Cinderella team of the tournament, will that help you tomorrow tonight against Maryland?
MACHELLE JOSEPH: I don’t know if it makes us the Cinderall team of the tournament. I think us, and Virginia, are the only 2 lower seeds that won today, right? It’s just a special win for my team. I’m just really happy for them. We have had highs and lows this year. We have had some struggles as of late. Deep down, Steph will tell you, we talked about it this week in practice at the end of practice. We know we’re good a good team, we know we can compete with anybody. We have just not gotten the breaks at times that we needed. You create your own breaks. That’s what we talked about. It’s a new season, a new opportunity for us. We’re a very young team, you looked out there at the end of the game, I had a freshman, three sophomores and a junior on the floor. That’s the future of our program. I was just really pleased the way we stepped up. I’ve been a part of an SEC tournament where we won four games in four days came and we came in as the No. 9 seed. We were able to walk through that tournament and beat some very good teams. I’ve seen it happen before. This is the premiere league in the country. You’ve got the top I think three of these teams are going to be No. 1 seeds in the NCAA tournament. It’s going to be a challenge but right now we’re going to enjoy this one, and tonight, my staff and I, we’re going to get prepared for Maryland. And tomorrow we’ve got a long day to rest and get ready for another 9:30 game.
Q. MaChelle, you are up by one point, down the stretch it’s 51 50 and your leading scorer who hadn’t make a basket the whole game, just goes crazy, scores 10 points in 3 minutes. Did you tell her anything, any of the time outs, to get going or anything; what was the deal there?
MACHELLE JOSEPH: Well, I said to her in the time out. She had her head down. I said, “Chioma look at me. Look at me in the eyes. I said, you’ve got to shoot the ball. The key word here is game and play. We’ve got to play. It’s a game. Don’t make it any more serious than that.” She puts so much pressure on herself just like the rest of my kids. She looked up at me, I saw it, I just knew that she was going to come out and knock down the next shot. I think she hit her next three shots. I think there is two back to back 3’s and a 2. I thought she really responded there in that time out.
Q. Stephanie, you guys had two assists against 23 turnovers, normally you see something like that you wouldn’t think you guys would be able to win. How were you guys able to do it?
STEPHANIE HIGGS: Rebounding. We’ve out-rebounded them by 25 rebounds the first two games. We knew coming out of this game that that was going to be one of the keys of winning this game. I had no idea it was two to 23. Wow. We had a lot of turnovers the last game, but we did out-rebound them by 20 something, and I think that really helped us in this game.
Q. MaChelle, did you realize it was that lopsided the assist to turnover ratio?
COACH MACHELLE JOSEPH: I really thought we were sharing the basketball. It seemed like we were penetrating and kicking and creating shots for each other.
But, you know, I did know we had some turnovers. I was aware that we were turning the ball over. I just didn’t realize we only had two assists. That’s kind of hard to believe when you have four people in double figures in scoring.
COACH Katie Meier: We picked a bad time to have one of our worst execution performances of the year, and I’ll give Georgia Tech credit for that. They had pretty good defense. Tamara (James) and Renee (Taylor), and I thought that they were very focused on those two players.
You know, those two, I think they battled. I’m very proud of those two players. I give credit to Georgia Tech for their defensive schemes.
Q. What were they doing so much in the past?
COACH Katie Meier: Basically Georgia Tech had more energy than us. I think as a team, they were quicker to the ball. Obviously, we’ve had rebounding problems ever since we lost Brittany (Denson) and that showed up again tonight. It was the loose balls and it was crucial times when we took the lead and we were executing our sets. Their kids, they had more energy, they had more pep in their step than we did when we were trying to get open, or when we were trying to reverse the ball, I thought Georgia Tech really dug deep and prevented some of our execution.
And I do think that we also missed some shots that we normally hit. I thought there were a lot of chippies in that crucial stretch there. And it was the players that I would want taking them. They just went in and out. It was a crucial stretch, but normally we hit them.
Q. Tamara, what were you thinking kind of down the stretch when they were shooting free shows and it was over, and you knew the chance of going to the tournament was probably nil?
Tamara James: It just hurt. I didn’t want my senior year to end like this. But it’s reality.
Q. I’m sure you guys think you got a shot at the NIT?
COACH Katie Meier: Oh, yes, I think we are a post season team. We have made tremendous strides this year. I think we are an exciting team. I don’t think that we played the style that we want to, that we’ve been successful with this entire year until tonight. But there is lot of great stories about our team. And we have proven ourselves to be on the upper half of the nation’s No. 1 conference. To get the 6th seed in the No. 1 conference in the nation, we earned that. We really earned it through a hard fought conference season.
I like my team, and I think that we are very talented and exciting. I would think that we would be an NIT team.