Georgia Tech rallies to avoid upset with 54-52 win over SFA


SAN ANTONIO — Lorela Cubaj recovered from a scary fall to score 14 points, including the go-ahead free throws in overtime, and fifth-seeded Georgia Tech came back from a 17-point halftime deficit to turn back 12-seed Stephen F. Austin 54-52 at the women’s NCAA Tournament on Sunday.

The Yellow Jackets’ first opening-round victory since 2012 sends them to a Tuesday matchup versus the winner of fourth-seeded West Virginia and No. 13-seed Lehigh in the Hemisfair Region.

Cubaj, of Italy, left the the game in the second quarter after taking a fall while going for a rebound. She appeared to hit the back of her head on the court and after some minutes on the floor was able to leave with assistance. She came back four minutes later to finish the half with SFA leading 34-17 — the lowest-scoring half of the season for Georgia Tech.

After Cubaj’s overtime free throws gave Georgia Tech its first lead since 6-4, Anaya Boyd and Lotta-May Lahtinen sandwiched baskets around an SFA free throw with 1:36 remaining for a five-point lead. SFA freshman Avery Brittingham converted a three-point play with 47 seconds left and had a chance to tie the game at the end but missed twice under the basket before her third try went in after the buzzer.

Cubaj grabbed 10 rebounds and blocked four shots for Georgia Tech. Lahtinen also scored 14 points and Kierra Fletcher added 11 points and nine rebounds.

A 10-2 Georgia Tech run created a 48-all tie with 1:12 remaining in regulation. The teams exchanged misses before Stephanie Visscher was unable to convert a left-handed scoop shot at the buzzer.

Brittingham scored 16 points with 13 rebounds for the Ladyjacks (24-3), who had a 19-game win streak snapped. Visscher added 14 points and 10 rebounds.


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