No. 15 Georgia Tech rallies late to defeat Florida State

Georgia Tech basketball coach Nell Fortner huddles with her team during an early-season game at McCamish Pavilion. (Georgia Tech Athletics)

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Georgia Tech basketball coach Nell Fortner huddles with her team during an early-season game at McCamish Pavilion. (Georgia Tech Athletics)

A dramatic rally lifted No. 15 Georgia Tech to its eighth win in the past nine games Thursday night at McCamish Pavilion, a 68-64 win over Florida State.

The Seminoles took a 62-55 lead with 3:52 remaining, but the Yellow Jackets finished on a 13-2 run to escape.

“They just refused to lose,” Tech coach Nell Fortner said. “We made some big stops there at the end in the fourth quarter. Just credit to them for showing great toughness physical toughness and mental toughness. I was really proud of them for that.”

With the Jackets (13-3, 4-1 ACC) having to play a makeup game at Pittsburgh on Tuesday, it was Tech’s third game in five days, all of them wins. Tech is tied for third in the ACC with North Carolina and Virginia Tech.

The Jackets were led by forward Lorela Cubaj, who scored a game-high and career-high 24 points on 10-for-14 shooting to go along with nine rebounds, three assists and two steals. She had a high productivity level in her 36 minutes despite having played 30 minutes Sunday against Virginia and another 29 against Pitt on Tuesday.

“We know that it’s a difficult time all around the nation,” Cubaj said. “We just have to be tough.”

Guard Lotta-Maj Lahtinen scored 19 on 5-for-8 shooting to go with nine rebounds and five assists against two turnovers. Her second-chance 3-pointer with 2:17 to play gave the Jackets the lead at 63-62, and she fired a post-entry pass to guard Eylia Love for a basket (also a second-chance score) with 48.5 seconds left that regained the lead at 65-64, this time for good.

The 64 points were the most allowed this season by Tech, which continues to lead Division I in scoring defense (45.1 points per game going into Thursday’s game) and second in field-goal percentage defense (31.5%). Florida State (7-7, 1-3) shot 38.5%.

“That’s a really big win for us,” Fortner said. “Florida State, y’all have to understand, that’s a Top 25 team. They’re really good and they’re just going to get better and better now that they’ve got their players back.”