ATLANTA — Lyndra Littles began the game against Georgia Tech with 11 turnovers this season.After committing nine of Virginia’s season-high 28 miscues Sunday, Littles wasn’t exactly in a great mood.
"They’re scrappy, and we didn’t have any poise," the senior forward said. "The things that we worked on in practice as far as breaking their press we didn’t do, and the times we did do it, we scored. We just didn’t do it enough."
Iasia Hemingway scored 17 points and Alex Montgomery had 16 in Georgia Tech’s 74-66 victory over No. 22 Virginia.
The Yellow Jackets (21-8, 8-6 Atlantic Coast Conference) closed the regular season with three straight wins and clinched the fifth seed in next week’s ACC tournament at Greensboro, N.C.
Ending a three-game winning streak, Virginia (22-8, 8-6) will play as the ACC’s sixth seed. Littles led the Cavaliers with 21 points. Monica Wright had 18.
The Cavaliers, who scrambled against a Georgia Tech defense that leads the nation in average steals, went nearly nine minutes without scoring after Littles’ layup cut the lead to six with 9:32 remaining.
"We’ve built this program on defense and rebounding," Yellow Jackets coach MaChelle Joseph said. "I tell the players all the time that you can’t control your offense. Control the things you can control — defense and rebounding — because that’s effort. When the going gets tough, we go back to the roots of our program. The reason we were getting stops is the reason we won the game."
Brigitte Ardossi finished with 12 points and nine rebounds for Georgia Tech, which broke a two-game losing streak to Virginia and improved to 10-51 against the Cavaliers.
Virginia’s largest lead was by four early in the first half. The Cavaliers never got closer than six on Littles’ layup.
The Yellow Jackets’ largest lead was 69-56 on Deja Foster’s fast-break layup at the 3:17 mark.
Montgomery, who leads Georgia Tech with a 13.6 scoring average, was just 3-for-12 from the field, but she had eight of her team’s 23 defensive rebounds to set the Jackets’ tough tone in the paint.
"My coach told me every game isn’t going to be a good game," Montgomery said. "Like whether I produce on offense or defense, she told me to just keep shooting. I saw my shot wasn’t falling, so I gave my team a list on defense."
Virginia coach Debbie Ryan isn’t sure how her players will respond to the challenges they face in the ACC tournament.
"It’ll be interesting what this group does," she said. "They have a chance to go one way or another. I was very disappointed in our play today, and I was very disappointed in our effort on the defensive end."
Littles didn’t just regret her team’s poor ball-handing performance. Virginia simply didn’t hustle as hard as Georgia Tech.
"They had a few second-chance shots, too, and they came up with a lot of the 50-50 balls," Littles said. "They played hard, so they deserve this win."