Georgia Tech's methodical attack took down the Mercer women's basketball team Thursday night in the first round of the WNIT.
The Yellow Jackets led by one point after the first quarter and slowly pulled away from the Bears for a 73-56 victory. The Yellow Jackets outscored the Bears 25-12 in the fourth quarter.
Georgia Tech (20-12) reached the 20-win mark for the eighth time in head coach MaChelle Joseph's tenure.
THREE WHO MATTERED
Kahlia Lawrence: The Bears' leading scorer all season had 22 points.
Linnea Rosendal: The Bears' freshman hit four 3-pointers and finished with 16 points.
Roddreka Rodgers: The Yellow Jackets senior was strong in the post with 15 points and 15 rebounds.
Aaliyah Whiteside: The ACC's leading scorer ended up with 17 points, hitting all nine of her free throws.
The Bears trailed 45-32 midway through the third quarter but made a run to get within 48-44 at the end of the quarter. The Yellow Jackets, however, responded by scoring the first six points of the fourth quarter and kept control of the game the rest of the way.
Inside push: Led by Rodgers, Georgia Tech's size inside proved to be a problem for Mercer with the Yellow Jackets holding a 49-31 rebounding edge.
Handling the press: Mercer head coach Susie Gardner was focused on the Yellow Jackets' press entering the game, but the Bears did a good job with that, finishing with six turnovers.
Advantage at the line: Mercer hit 5-of-10 from the free-throw line, while Georgia Tech hit 16-of-21.
Strong season: Mercer's 24 wins tie for the second-most wins in program history in a season. It's the most wins by the Mercer women as a Division I program.
Much closer than last time: Georgia Tech holds a 15-6 lead in the series and won the most recent game in 2010 by a 101-44 score.
THEY SAID IT
Gardner on the loss: "We have done that most of the year. We have gotten down before, and we've fought back. Unfortunately, we fought back to just four, and we didn't keep fighting."
Gardner on finishing the season with two straight losses: "It's disappointing because ... as good as the season was, we let the last two games of the year slip through our fingers. The Chattanooga game was one I thought we could have possibly won. And this game (Thursday), we had a chance against a very, very good basketball team, but they just killed us in the fourth quarter."
Gardner on the Bears' offense: "We didn't hit shots (Thursday). I felt like we broke their press exceptionally well. I was very concerned about their press. I thought (point guard) Sydni Means did an amazing job. We had six turnovers against a very good pressing team, but at the end of the press, we didn't score when we had open shots, and that killed us."
Georgia Tech head coach MaChelle Joseph on her two seniors, Whiteside and Rodgers, taking over: "I thought we did a good job of start getting them the ball in the middle of the floor, and I thought (Mercer) had a hard time with Roddreka Rodgers. She basically fouled out their center (Rachel Selph), and two of their other post players had four. And I thought it was just because she's so physical down there going after rebounds. ... I thought Aaliyah Whiteside caught fire there at the end of the third quarter and into the fourth quarter."
Georgia Tech advances to play Tulane. Mercer's season comes to an end.