As the men change directions and seek a new identity for its program the women remain the same. When you have the all-time winningest coach Machelle Joseph in program history 252-162? And currently, Joseph has eight 20-win seasons and seven NCAA tournament appearances, including six-straight from 2007 through 2012, you just keep building not many changes needed. And nothing did as they took care of Samford 62-57 to add another notch to her impressive opening day record making it 13-1 complimenting her 14-year career.
This years’ team feature some around the world girls six different countries. Senior Katarina Vuckovic (Smederevo, Serbia), redshirt-junior Elo Edeferioka (Warri, Nigeria), junior Simina Avram (Brasov, Romania), junior Antonia Peresson (Pordenone, Italy), sophomore Chelsea Guimaraes (Almada, Portugal), freshman Anne Francoise Diouf (Dakar, Senegal), and Francesca Pan (Bassno del Grappa, Italy).
Local native, freshman Zutorya Cook stayed close to home at Tech. The Marietta, Ga., native was named MVP at Osborne High School all four years and was named to the AJC’s 2015 AAAAAA All-State Second Team. Also tabbed the 2014 Region Player of the Year, Cook picked up AAAAA AJC All-State First Team honors in 2014 and AJC AAAAA All-State Second Team honors in 2013.
Vuckovic returns as the team’s leading scorer, rebounder and assists leader from last season. Meanwhile, Tilford, led the Yellow Jackets in steals last season with 61.
(21) Zaire O’neal lead the team in scoring with 16 points going 6-13 from the field and 4-6 from the stripe and grabbed 5 rebounds. Francesca Pan had 12 points while Antonia Peresson and Imani Tilford scored 10 points each to round out a solid well-balanced attack. Georgia Tech beat Samford in a couple of key areas during the game firstly points in the paint 24-12 and the bench outscored theirs 24-14.
One of the most important feats of this game was battling back from 10 points down with 9:47 remaining to grind out the win. (33) Francesca Pan was clutch hitting two 3 points shots. The first at the 7:52 mark in the fourth she went off from in front of the bench with no hesitation drawing the bottom of the nets to put the game in reach at 45-50. The Katarina Vuckovich came up with a steal and gave the rock to her .45 seconds later for the same results, nothing but the bottom of the nets for another 3 pointer making the crowd scream at 48-50. Antonia Peresson tied it up with a jumper with 6:21 remaining. A hustling Imanin Tilford comes up with a pick pocket steal and completed a successful layup on the other end to take the lead.
Kassidy Blevins of Samford didn’t go away easy she cranked in a 3 pointer to snatch back the lead at 52-53. But Zaire O’neil said no, we the SWARM want this game. She hit a jumper to take the lead at 4:08. Samford tried to fight to the finish but the Yellow Jackets stung them going down the stretch taking the opener at the house 57-62. Next up is Alabama State Sunday 11-13-16 back here at McCamish Pavilion.