Georgia Tech rallies to defeat Wake Forest behind Kara Dunn

Credit: Danny Karnik

Credit: Danny Karnik

Led by freshman guard Kara Dunn, Georgia Tech stopped a three-game losing streak with a 63-55 win over Wake Forest on Thursday night at McCamish Pavilion.

Dunn scored a career-high 21 points while playing 39 minutes to lead the Yellow Jackets. Of particular importance was a three-point play that she contributed with 32 seconds to play as Tech was trying to hold onto a lead that had shrunk in the final quarter from 12 points to four as the Demon Deacons rattled the Jackets with a press.

“What was really good to see is (us) hanging tough in the fourth quarter and win a ballgame because we’ve struggled with that,” coach Nell Fortner told media after the game. “There was a minute there where we were kind of letting it slip away from us, but they really hung tough. Really happy to see them coming together and get the stops when we had to have them.”

On top of her scoring, Dunn primarily was assigned to defend Wake Forest guard Jewel Spear, the ACC’s leading scorer last season who came into Thursday’s game averaging 16 points per game. Spear was limited to 11 points on 5-for-14 shooting. Dunn’s previous scoring high was 20, against Pitt in the Jackets’ previous game. She has scored 41 points in the past two games after contributing 40 in the eight games before that.

“Super proud of Kara Dunn,” Fortner said. “That’s two games in a row that she’s really been outstanding and (Thursday) was no different. She got 21 points, five boards, but she held Wake Forest’s leading scorer to 11 points. That’s really impressive. But then to follow that up with a really good offensive game, too, she’s really showing that she’s really progressing well for a young player.”

After the Jackets’ most recent game, a double-overtime loss to last-place Pittsburgh, Fortner was dissatisfied with her team’s defensive play, evaluating it as “terrible” and “definitely a problem.” Thursday’s game started out in a similar vein, as the Demon Deacons finished the first quarter up 23-15 by making nine of 15 shots from the field. However, Wake Forest scored 32 points over the remaining three quarters, making nine of 40 shots.

“That’s a tough way to lose a game, in double overtime when you had your chances to win it,” Fortner said. “They came back, we had good days of practice, they worked hard. Nobody’s throwing the towel in at all. This bunch is still fighting and working hard. They understand the road ahead is tough, but we’re going to get after it.”

Guard Tonie Morgan scored 15 with six assists, and guard Bianca Jackson added a season-high seven assists off the bench. Forward Kayla Blackshear had a game-high nine rebounds.

The Jackets have split their past eight games after losing their first seven to start ACC play. The challenge becomes considerably heavier over the final three regular-season games – at No. 24 Florida State, at No. 10 Notre Dame and home against No. 11 Virginia Tech.

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