Tech women can’t keep up with No. 7 Irish

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Georgia Tech forward Zaire O’Neil had 10 offensive rebounds against Notre Dame Monday night. (GT Athletics/Danny Karnik)

The Georgia Tech women’s basketball team turned in a strong defensive effort, but that wasn’t nearly enough against No. 7 Notre Dame Monday night at McCamish Pavilion. The Yellow Jackets dropped their ACC opener to the Fighting Irish 55-38.

It was Notre Dame’s lowest scoring output of the season, but it was Tech’s lowest since Jan. 2011, a 69-32 loss to Duke. Tech had come into the game averaging 68.6 points per game.

“I’m disappointed, obviously, in our offense,” coach MaChelle Joseph said. “When you hold Notre Dame to 55 points, you expect to have a chance to win.”

The Jackets (11-3 overall, 0-1 ACC) were in trouble from the outset, falling behind 17-9 by the end of the first quarter. The Irish took control of the game with a 23-2 run that bridged the first and second quarters. For the game, Tech shot 24.1 percent from the field, 16 points below their season average.

Tech was supported by a strong rebounding game from forward Zaire O’Neil. She had 13 rebounds, 10 on the offensive glass.

“O’Neil’s trouble for us,” Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said. “Every year she gives us trouble inside. What an amazing rebounder.”

The Jackets had 20 offensive rebounds total, but only 11 second-chance points. It was a revealing test for Tech. Notre Dame has made the Final Four five of the past six seasons.

“I think they did a great job of changing defenses on us,” Joseph said. “They’d be in zone, we’d get an offensive rebound, they went to zone. That’s really hard to play against for a young team, especially freshman guards. I thought that you could tell it rattled us.”

Notre Dame (13-2, 1-1) entered the game averaging 80.5 points per game and shooting 48.9 percent from the field. The Irish shot 40.4 percent from the field against the Jackets.

“We’ve got a lot to work on, but I think that this is a good indication that defensively we’re where we need to be,” Joseph said. “It’s offensively we’ve got to make plays.”

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