All-ACC player Swartz transfers from BC to Georgia Tech

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: JAN 30 Womens - Boston College at Notre Dame
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ATLANTA – All-Atlantic Coast Conference guard Cameron Swartz has transferred from Boston College to Georgia Tech.

Yellow Jackets coach Nell Fortner announced Wednesday that the 5-foot-11 player from suburban Marietta would be playing closer to home next season.

Swartz was selected as the league’s most improved player and made the All-ACC first team after leading the Eagles in scoring at 16.1 points a game. She was the conference’s sixth-leading scorrrer.

“We welcome Cameron back home to Atlanta and the Georgia Tech women’s basketball family,” Fortner said. “Her game has consistently grown throughout her collegiate career and she has proven herself to be one of the best scorers in the ACC.”

Georgia Tech will be Swartz’s thjird school. She started out at Colorado, playing seven games as a freshman, before transferring to Boston College, where she played the last three seasons.

Swartz played her high school ball at Fellowship Christian, leading the state of Georgia in scoring at 32.1 points per game.

Boeheim brothers lead Syracuse past Georgia Tech in OT

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SYRACUSE, N.Y.- The Boeheim brothers combined for 35 points and Buddy Boeheim hit a key 3-pointer in overtime to lift Syracuse to a 74-73 victory over Georgia Tech on Monday night.

Buddy Boeheim’s 3-pointer gave Syrcause a 72-70 lead with 2:17 to go in the extra period. Jimmy Boeheim drew a foul on Syracuse’s next possession and made both free throws for a 74-70 lead with 1:56 remaining.

Kyle Sturdivant’s 3-pointer drew Georgia Tech within a point with 1:36 remaining for the game’s final points. After a series of turnovers and missed jumpers by both teams, Georgia Tech had possession with 22 seconds left. Michael Devoe, Georgia Tech’s leading scorer, would miss three jump shots as the Yellow Jackets collected the offensive rebound after each miss – with time running out on the third try.

Jimmy Boeheim led Syracuse (15-12, 9-7 ACC) with 20 points and he grabbed 10 rebounds. Buddy Boeheim scored 15 points but together the brothers were 11 of 37 from the field. Cole Swider had 18 points and 12 rebounds. Joe Girard III added 12 points and five assists. Syracuse won despite shooting 33%. The Orange had only four turnovers.

Rodney Howard had 19 points and 10 rebounds for Georgia Tech (11-16, 4-12). Jordan Usher had 14 points, 13 rebounds and five assists. Devoe finished with 14 points, five rebounds and four assists.

A 3-pointer by Girard and a layup from Swider gave Syracuse a 59-53 lead with 5:23 remaining in regulation. Georgia Tech bounced right back with a pair of 3-pointers from Dallan Coleman to tie the score. At 2:28 Coleman came through again, making two of three free throws to draw the Yellow Jackets within 63-62. A minute later, Jalon Moore made one of two free throws to tie the score at 63 and set up the scoreless final minute of regulation.

The game was a makeup for the game that was originally scheduled for Dec. 29 but was postponed due to COVID-19 issues within the Yellow Jackets’ team.

No. 5 NC State women roll past No. 11 Georgia Tech in ACC

Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
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RALEIGH, N.C. – Diamond Johnson scored 12 points and fifth-ranked North Carolina State build a big lead in the third quarter to beat No. 11 Georgia Tech 59-48 on Monday night.

Raina Perez added 11 points for the Wolfpack, who turned a marquee matchup of top Atlantic Coast Conference teams into a largely one-sided show. Most importantly, N.C. State (21-3, 12-1) made things difficult on the Yellow Jackets defensively through the middle of the game, which has been an area coach Wes Moore has been pushing for a team with Final Four aspirations.

Eylia Love scored 16 points to lead Georgia Tech (18-5, 9-3), which shot 35% and had a long stretch that saw the Yellow Jackets miss 24 of 29 shots to turn a fast start into a massive hole.

The Yellow Jackets had more turnovers (four) than field goals (3 for 17) in the second quarter, then opened the third quarter with four misses and six more turnovers through the first 6 minutes.

The Wolfpack offense had few such troubles when the game was in doubt, even against a defense ranked No. 2 nationally in scoring (47.1 points allowed and No. 3 in field-goal percentage defense (.328). N.C. State shot 49% through the first three quarters, led by as many as 23 and led by 21 with 4:41 left in the fourth quarter before Georgia Tech made a late run to make it closer.

N.C. State led 30-22 at halftime, then scored the first 10 points after the break – finally getting Elissa Cunane going in the post for three baskets followed by Perez’s turnaround and baseline drive that pushed the lead to 40-22 midway through the third quarter.

N.C. State wore pink uniforms for the 16th annual Play4Kay Game, continuing a tradition started in honor of late Wolfpack coach Kay Yow to use a home game to raise awareness and money for the fund named in her honor to fight women’s cancers.

The halftime ceremony honoring cancer fighters and survivors included Georgia Tech associate head coach Tasha Butts, who was diagnosed earlier this season with advanced-stage breast cancer.

BIG PICTURE

Georgia Tech: Georgia Tech entered a game back in the loss column of No. 3 Louisville and N.C. State at the top of the ACC standings, so this represented a chance to close the gap even with a loss to the Cardinals in the only regular-season meeting between the two. But aside from making 5 of 7 shots for a 10-2 lead, the Yellow Jackets couldn’t get stops while their offense was scrapping for any basket during the game’s critical sequences.

N.C. State: The Wolfpack’s stumble at No. 18 Notre Dame last week opened up the league regular-season race a bit, with N.C. State and Louisville each sitting with one loss and the Wolfpack owning the tiebreaker with a Jan. 20 comeback win in the lone regular-season meeting. This was a significant hurdle for the Wolfpack in pursuing the program’s first ACC regular-season crown since the 1989-90 season, with Georgia Tech standing as the last ranked team on the schedule.

UP NEXT

Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets visit Virginia Tech on Thursday.

N.C. State: Two road games await, first at Boston College on Thursday and then at nearby Duke on Sunday.

Big-name women’s basketball programs returning to prominence

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Kellie Harper is working to return the Tennessee women’s basketball program back to being a title contender and has the Lady Vols closer to their traditionally elite status.

She’s got company at other big-name programs, too.

The Lady Vols are ranked fifth in Harper’s third season at her alma mater. Tennessee is among a group of AP Top 25 teams returning to prominence after recent coaching changes. Teams like No. 12 LSU, No. 15 Georgia Tech, No. 16 Duke, No. 20 Notre Dame, No. 21 North Carolina and No. 23 Oklahoma are thriving and primed to make a postseason impact under coaches hired since 2019.

Two of those teams, UNC and Notre Dame, meet Sunday.

“You don’t just push a button and win games,” Harper said after Thursday’s win at Vanderbilt. “There’s a lot that goes into it, a lot on the court, off the court, you have the right personnel. You’ve got to have the right system. . There’s a lot of basketball left to be played, so we’re looking at it as that’s a lot of opportunities for growth for us.”

As Harper noted, there’s still about two months left until Selection Sunday. Yet these teams have put themselves in contention to host early round NCAA Tournament games.

“The teams we’re talking about are actually a part of the conversation on the national scene now,” said Debbie Antonelli, a college basketball analyst for multiple outlets, including ESPN. “None of those teams were talked about three years ago.

“Tennessee wasn’t in the mix to go to the Final Four. North Carolina, Duke, they weren’t in the mix to go to the Final Four. Oklahoma wasn’t discussed as a top-16 team that could host the first and second round. And that’s the big key in the women’s game, that’s a huge piece of it.”

So far, the Lady Vols (16-1) are best positioned for that along with the Tigers (16-2). LSU lured three-time national champion and Hall of Famer Kim Mulkey from Baylor last spring to spark a program that hasn’t won an NCAA Tournament game since 2014.

At Georgia Tech, third-year coach Nell Fortner took the Yellow Jackets (13-3) to the Sweet 16 last year in the program’s first NCAA trip since 2014. She has also provided stability after the school fired longtime coach MaChelle Joseph, while Courtney Banghart took over at North Carolina around the same time following a tumultuous period resulting in the resignation of Hall of Fame coach Sylvia Hatchell.

For Banghart, who left Princeton after 12 years, the formula started with diving into recruiting, then sprinkling in graduate-transfer help. Her first recruiting class was ranked No. 11 by ESPN and headlined by five-star prospect Deja Kelly, now a sophomore and the UNC’s top scorer at 17.6 points. Her next class checked in at No. 3, behind only South Carolina and UConn.

As a result, the Tar Heels (14-1) are in the AP Top 25 for the first time since the 2015-16 preseason poll.

“There’s so many different styles,” Banghart said. “It’s like the NBA. . There’s multiple ways to build a team. One is through the draft and one is through the trade wires. And that’s sort of how it is in college; one is through your recruiting and one is through your transfer process. You’re irresponsible not to monitor both.”

A few miles away at rival Duke, second-year coach Kara Lawson has taken a different approach. The Blue Devils – who called off their season after four games in Lawson’s debut year – restocked with seven power-conference transfers, with Elizabeth Balogun (Louisville), Lexi Gordon (Texas Tech) and Celeste Taylor (Texas) as regular starters in a balanced offense.

Duke (11-3) is ranked this year for the first time since the 2018-19 preseason poll.

“I’ve felt since the beginning of the year . we were a team that would continue to grow, but have a chance to have a higher level of growth than maybe some other teams because we’d gain that continuity as the season goes along,” Lawson said. “We’re gaining it on the fly.”

At Notre Dame, second-year coach Niele Ivey has the Fighting Irish (12-3) rolling again after it posted a losing record in Hall of Famer Muffet McGraw’s final season followed by a 10-10 season in Ivey’s debut.

Ivey credited the arrival of backcourt help in McDonald’s All-American Sonia Citron and fellow freshman Olivia Miles, who leads the country by averaging 7.8 assists. The team also added Stanford graduate transfer Maya Dodson to improved returnees.

“They understand the legacy and they understand this program,” Ivey said. “So our goal this summer was to continue working to get back that Notre Dame that everybody knows and play at a high level.”

And at Oklahoma, the Sooners (14-2) are ranked for the first time since early in the 2017-18 season in their first year under Jennie Baranczyk, who left Drake to take over for retired Sherri Coale.

Oklahoma was 32-52 through the past three seasons, but is coming off its first win against Baylor since 2015.

“I love the balance that we have. I love the believe that we have. I love that we just kept playing,” Baranczyk said afterward. “When we focus on ourselves and just play like that and share the ball, it’s really fun. The scoreboard then takes care of itself when we do that.”

Engstler’s layup lifts No. 3 Louisville over No. 16 Georgia Tech

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ATLANTA- Emily Engstler scored 14 points and hit a layup with three seconds remaining, lifting No. 3 Louisville to its 12th straight victory, 50-48 over No. 16 Georgia Tech on Sunday.

In a matchup of the nation’s top scoring defense in Georgia Tech and the nation’s third-best in Louisville, the Yellow Jackets (10-3, 2-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) were trying to knock off a top-three team for the second time after beating UConn at home on Dec. 9, but Lotta-Maj Lahtinen’s heave from half-court fell short at the buzzer.

Louisville (12-1, 2-0) called timeout with 14.6 seconds remaining and the score tied at 48-all. Engstler gave the Cardinals just their third lead of the game. Georgia Tech led for 33 minutes, 33 seconds.

The game marked a season low in points for Louisville, which got 13 rebounds and seven points from Olivia Cochran. Digna Strautmane scored 13 points and Lorela Cubaj had 12 for Georgia Tech, which was down to seven players because health and safety protocols sidelined four active players on the roster. Four players logged more than 37 minutes.

Cubaj’s hook shot put the Jackets up 47-42 with 2:56 left in the game, but Hailey Van Lith, who missed eight of her first nine shots, came out of a Louisville timeout to hit a jumper over an outstretched Cubaj and force a 48-all tie with 35.4 seconds remaining.

Kianna Smith hit a straightaway 3 to open the fourth quarter and trim the lead to 32-30, and Van Lith hit a pair of free throws to tie it before Lahtinen and Strautmane knocked down consecutive 3s to make it 38-33.

Engstler hit a straightaway 3 to give Louisville its first lead at 23-20 early in the third, but Strautmane answered with a left-corner 3 that made it 23-all. A putback by Hermosa pushed the Georgia Tech lead to 26-23 before Cubaj was called for an offensive foul. Cardinals coach Jeff Walz, upset that Cubaj wasn’t called for a flagrant, was whistled for a technical foul and used a challenge for a video review. The call was upheld.

Walz was likely upset, too, that his team had failed to score on six straight possessions and had four turnovers over that span as the Jackets went up 27-23 with 4:49 left in the third. Mykasa Robinson broke the spell with a layup that made it 27-25, but she committed a turnover and Cochran missed a jumper on the ensuing possessions.

The first half ended in a 20-all tie, with Louisville shooting just 28.6% from the field and 2 for 9 on 3s. It was a season low in first-half points for both teams. Georgia Tech shot just 30% in the first half.

Cubaj hit a 3 to make it 14-3 early in the second, but the Cardinals closed within five on a 3 by Engstler as Louisville’s trapping defense kept giving Georgia Tech fits.

Georgia Tech had eight turnovers in the first quarter but led 11-3 at the end of the period. Louisville missed its first eight shots and went 1 for 12 in the first.

BIG PICTURE

Louisville: The close game could cause the Cardinals to miss a chance to move past No. 2 Stanford for the No. 1 spot in the poll after South Carolina lost at Missouri. They have remained in the Top 10 for 83 straight polls dating to the 2017 preseason poll. Louisville has remained in the AP Top 25 for 112 straight weeks.

Georgia Tech: Lahtinen had seven of the team’s 14 turnovers in the first half. She and Cubaj were relegated to ball-handling duties most of the game. Cubaj, a center, leads Georgia Tech in assists this season and she pulled down 16 rebounds. Of the seven players available, five were regular starters.

UP NEXT

Louisville: Hosts Pittsburgh on Thursday and visits Miami next Sunday.

Georgia Tech: Visits Duke on Thursday and hosts Virginia next Sunday.

NCAA places Georgia Tech women’s hoops team on three years probation

Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
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ATLANTA – The NCAA placed Georgia Tech’s women’s basketball program on probation for three years Tuesday, citing violations committed under former coach MaChelle Joseph that included players being forced to practice longer than the rules allow and on scheduled off days.

The investigation also found that players feared reprisals from Joseph if they spoke out, and cited “a tense and strained relationship” between the coaching staff and the school’s compliance office.

The NCAA finding means both the men’s and women’s programs at Georgia Tech have landed on probation, a situation that prompted the governing body to also order a comprehensive compliance review of Georgia Tech’s athletics department by an outside agency.

The probationary period for the women’s team does not include a ban on participating in the NCAA Tournament, but an infractions committee headed by former Minnesota athletic director Joel Maturi did impose a $5,000 fine plus 1% of the program’s annual budget.

The probationary period will be tacked on to a four-year sanction against the men’s program, which is set to end in 2023. The women’s team will then go on probation through 2026.

“We had concerns,” Maturi said. “We wanted to make sure the institution continued to improve its compliance program and the thoroughness of its compliance program to help them minimize any further infractions. Probation can be a positive thing if you approach it the right way.”

The report said the violations in the women’s program occurred over three academic years from 2016 through February 2019, when Joseph was placed on leave late in the season. She was fired a month later by the school, which cited alleged mistreatment of players and staff, as well as possible NCAA violations.

A former assistant also was cited for NCAA violations. While no one was identified in the report, the school’s earlier response to a notice of allegations made it clear that Rob Norris was that assistant coach.

The NCAA found that Georgia Tech routinely violated limits on practice time as well as required days off.

“Each week, the director of women’s basketball operations provided student-athletes with the practice schedule,” the NCAA said. “However, a former women’s basketball assistant coach would notify student-athletes on the day before or day of practice that the schedule had changed, frequently requiring the team to report to practice early. Additionally, according to multiple student-athletes, the team was regularly required to practice an hour or more longer than scheduled.”

On required days off, the Yellow Jackets often practiced with assistant coaches or graduate managers overseeing the sessions.

“Student-athletes believed the workouts were mandatory,” the NCAA said. “This perception was furthered by the team’s use of shot-tracking technology during workouts on scheduled days off, which identified who participated in shooting sessions. Those tracking data were printed and provided to the former head coach at her request.”

Maturi said the infractions committee was especially troubled by the lack of cooperation with those overseeing compliance.

“The panel observed that there was a tense and strained relationship between the former head coach and the compliance office, with student-athletes reporting that they were told not to trust or communicate with compliance and the senior woman administrator,” the report said.

Joseph said she was a victim of a hostile work environment and sex discrimination, with her attorney noting that men’s coach Josh Pastner kept his job after major recruiting violations were found in his program. Pastner recently received a contract extension after leading Georgia Tech to its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 11 years.

Joseph has filed a lawsuit against the Georgia Tech athletic association and school officials, including athletic director Todd Stansbury.

The infractions committee did not find enough evidence to back up allegations that Joseph had provided a total of $200 in cash to two players, saying information they provided “was not consistent and sometimes contradictory.”

Joseph’s attorney, Lisa J. Banks, issued a statement on the former coach’s behalf noting that she was cleared of providing impermissible benefits to her players.

“This was a patently false allegation, brought to the NCAA only after I had accused Georgia Tech of discriminating and retaliating against me,” Joseph said.

She acknowledged “technical” errors in the way practice hours were logged, but pointed out that no one suggested any violations until the end of her tenure. Joseph also took issue with the NCAA questioning the way players were treated, noting that many returned to work on her staff.

“I am extremely proud of my record of compliance at Georgia Tech and also of the culture in my program,” Joseph said.

However, the NCAA ruled that Joseph would have to serve a suspension from 15% of regular-season games at any school that hires her over the next year.

Norris received a five-year restriction on future employment, with the infractions committee saying he “declined multiple requests from the school and NCAA enforcement staff to participate in interviews.”

Georgia Tech said it cooperated fully with the investigation and noted that the NCAA “did not find any institutional violations.”

“We are pleased that this case has come to a resolution and that our current student-athletes and coaching staff can move on knowing that they will not have to serve any punishment for infractions that they had no part in,” Stansbury said.

Joseph coached at Georgia Tech for nearly 16 seasons, compiling a record of 311-204 that included seven NCAA Tournament appearances.

After she was fired, Nell Fortner took over the Yellow Jackets and led them to the NCAA Sweet 16 this past season – matching the best performance in school history.

“All of us at Georgia Tech are grateful to have this matter behind us and look forward to another great season for Coach Fortner and her outstanding student-athletes.” Stansbury said.