GREENSBORO, N.C. — Brigitte Ardossi left the game with a bloody nose. She returned in time to deliver a knockout punch.
Ardossi scored 23 points and made a go-ahead turnaround jumper with 1:05 remaining to help Georgia Tech beat Wake Forest 52-45 on Friday in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament quarterfinals.
The fourth-seeded Yellow Jackets (23-8) rallied from a 12-point deficit early in the second half, advancing to Saturdays semifinals for the first time since 2003. Georgia Tech will face the winner of the Duke-Maryland quarterfinal game.
Georgia Tech shot just 29 percent from the field, and their 13 field goals were the fewest by a winning team in the tournaments 33-year history.
"Im very proud of my team," Georgia Tech coach MaChelle Joseph said. "I dont think Ive coached a team that showed more character than they showed today."
Secily Ray scored 11 points and Brooke Thomas had 10 points for fifth-seeded Wake Forest (18-13), which was aiming for its first ACC semifinal appearance since 1988.
"We were in control of that game for the vast majority of it," Wake Forest coach Mike Petersen said. "We just werent able to finish the deal down the stretch."
Ardossi helped the Yellow Jackets tie the school record for wins in a season. She left the game with 10:08 remaining after taking an elbow to the face while trying to draw a charge against Thomas, but she quickly removed the gauze from her nose and returned.
"Ive never had a bloody nose in my life, so I was kind of surprised when I looked in my hand and there was all this blood," Ardossi said.
"I knew straightaway that it wasnt going to keep me down. It hurt, but it wasnt going to keep me out of the game," she said. "I knew I had to come back in and play strong and play hard."
The Yellow Jackets, who trailed 40-34 when Ardossi left the court, tied the score at 41 with 4:48 remaining on a pair of free throws by Alex Montgomery. They took their first lead, at 45-43, on Ardossis basket in the lane.
Wake Forest had a chance to tie the game, but Brittany Waters landed on the sideline when she jumped to grab the inbounds pass with 3.3 seconds remaining and her team trailing 48-45.
Deja Foster hit a free throw with 2.6 seconds remaining to push the margin to four, and Ardossi added a three-point play off the missed second free throw with 1.1 seconds left to seal the win for Georgia Tech.
The Demon Deacons led 25-17 at halftime, but the lead would have been much larger had they shot better than 29 percent from the field. Georgia Tech made 11 of 17 free throws in the first half, staying within striking distance despite shooting 3-for-19 from the floor and committing 10 turnovers.
Georgia Tech went without a field goal for nearly 12 minutes to start the game. They missed their first 10 shots from the floor before Montgomery made a baseline jumper with 8:03 remaining in the half to cut Wake Forests lead to 19-9.
Wake Forest took its biggest lead at 25-9 on a driving layup by Brittany Waters with 4:13 remaining, but they failed to score again before halftime. Georgia Tech closed the period on an 8-0 run, getting six points from Ardossi during that span to build some momentum heading into halftime.
Afterward, Petersen lobbied for Wake Forests first NCAA tournament berth since 1988. The coach cited his teams upper-half finish in the ACC, some key wins and a lack of bad losses.
"Sounds like an NCAA tournament team to me," he said. "Give it the eyeball test. That's all Im asking. Don't look at the uniform. Look inside the uniform."