DePaul Drops Heartbreaker to Georgia Tech

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Georgia Tech took a long time to get going, but Jacqua Williams sent the Yellow Jackets to their first NCAA tournament victory at the end of a sluggish half.

Williams swished a running one-handed shot in the lane with 2 1/2 seconds left to lift seventh-seeded Georgia Tech past 10th-seeded DePaul 55-54 on Saturday in the first round of the NCAA women's tournament.

Chioma Nnamaka's long jumper with 26 seconds remaining pulled the Yellow Jackets (21-11) within one, and then Jenna Rubino was pressured near the sideline and stepped out of bounds for the Blue Demons to give Georgia Tech the final possession.

After Jill Ingram missed a jumper, Williams was there at the end to make the winner and push the Yellow Jackets into the second round of the Dallas Regional to play either Purdue or Oral Roberts on Monday night.

Coach MaChelle Joseph came screaming and running onto the court to hug her players, celebrating the turnaround from a 2-12 record in the Atlantic Coast Conference last season. On the other end, Rubino pulled her blue jersey over her face and bent over with deep disappointment.

Nnamaka and Janie Mitchell each had 14 points, and Williams -- whose dramatic shot gave her team its first lead since 5:57 remained before halftime -- added 10 points.

Allie Quigley scored 17 points and Rubino had 12 points for DePaul (19-13), which held Georgia Tech leading scorer Stephanie Higgs to two points on 0-for-8 shooting and harassed the Yellow Jackets into a 4-for-22 performance from 3-point range.

The aesthetics suddenly deteriorated in the second half, when both teams had long stretches of bad shooting and several wince-inducing possessions. Nnamaka broke Georgia Tech's drought of 7 1/2 minutes without a field goal by making a fastbreak layup to cut the lead to 46-43.

The Blue Demons, meanwhile, were mired in a scoreless slump that lasted roughly the same amount of time and allowed the Yellow Jackets to crawl within one point, 49-48 with 4:25 left on Nnamaka's 3-pointer.

DePaul found full strength in early February and built enough momentum to earn a fifth straight appearance in the NCAA tournament -- including last year's advancement to the round of 16.

The Blue Demons, one of eight schools from the Big East to make the tournament, finished 10th in the 16-team conference after an injury-influenced regular season that forced coach Doug Bruno to use 10 different starting lineups. Five players missed a total of 105 games.

To keep up in the ACC, the Yellow Jackets have to be quick and nimble. They were often able to drive to the basket and create easier shots, but their fullcourt pressure showed some leaks in the first half and they had serious trouble offensively in the second half.

Georgia Tech made it a one-possession game inside the two-minute mark, but misfired on consecutive possessions. Quigley missed one of two free throws with 1:24 remaining to make it 54-51 and give the Yellow Jackets a chance at the end.

Postgame Notes: The Blue Demons are 7-12 all-time in NCAA tournament play and 6-6 in first-round NCAA tournament games... the loss snaps a three-game streak for DePaul winning in first-round NCAA tournament games... Saturday was the first meeting between Georgia Tech and DePaul... DePaul finished 1-2 in one-point games this season... the 16 points in the second half are the fewest this season for DePaul... the 55 points allowed is the third-lowest this season for DePaul... DePaul is 17-4 when leading at halftime this season... Georgia Tech is 1-9 when trailing at halftime this season.

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