ATLANTA — After playing a brutal early schedule, Georgia Tech figured its state rival wouldn't seem quite so daunting.
That's just how it worked out.
Freshman Tyaunna Marshall scored 20 points, Metra Walthour provided a spark at point guard and the Yellow Jackets finally knocked off a ranked team on their fourth try, pulling away from No. 21 Georgia in the second half for a 69-53 victory Sunday.
With the season not even a month old, the Yellow Jackets (7-4) already had lost to No. 1 Connecticut, No. 9 Tennessee and No. 12 Georgetown. But they took control against Georgia (6-2) with a 13-3 run shortly after the break and finished with their biggest win ever over the Lady Bulldogs.
"We started out playing some of the toughest teams in the country," Georgia Tech coach MaChelle Joseph said. "Before, Georgia had always been our biggest game to date when we played them. So it helped us to play those top teams. It prepared us for what we saw today."
Georgia Tech made five straight shots from the field — all layups or close in — and knocked down three free throws to stretch a 37-36 lead to 50-39 with just over 13 minutes remaining. The Lady Bulldogs went 1 of 5 during that stretch, turned it over four times and played such shoddy defense that coach Andy Landers came storming off the bench to call a timeout.
It didn't help. Georgia never got closer than nine the rest of the way.
Dominating on the inside, Marshall scored seven points during the decisive spurt. Alex Montgomery added 18 points, while the 5-foot-6 Walthour seemed to have a hand in everything. She scored 16 points — double her season average — and had five assists, four steals and two blocks.
"Coach told us to be aggressive and attack the rim," Walthour said. "We found a couple of openings in their press."
Jasmine Hassell led Georgia with 13 points. She was only player in double-figures for the Lady Bulldogs, who dominated the boards (50-29) but made just 22 of 67 shots (33 percent).
Led by Porsha Phillips with 15 rebounds, Georgia had nearly as many offensive boards (26) as Georgia Tech had altogether. The Lady Bulldogs couldn't take advantage of all those second and third chances, however.
"It's hard to imagine you could outrebound somebody like that and now have the game a little closer or even win the basketball game," Landers said. "I was pleased with that piece, the rebounding piece, but after that there's not a whole lot to talk about."
While Georgia also turned it over 16 times, Landers was mostly peeved about his team's lackluster defense. Georgia Tech made nearly half its shots (27 of 56) — which wasn't too surprising, since so many of them were gimmes.
"We weren't communicating very well," Phillips said. "We called switches, but we didn't switch very effectively. It was just communication. We gave them a lot of easy buckets."
The Yellow Jackets extended their winning streak to four in a row, and they've made things a lot closer against Georgia in recent years. Georgia Tech has captured four of the last nine meetings, though Georgia still holds a commanding lead overall, 29-4.
"I wasn't here for all of those," Joseph quipped. "I told the guys that it's not an upset if we win. Don't act like it's an upset, because it's not. We're expected to win at home. We have a very good basketball team. It would be an upset if they beat us here. We can't worry about what happened 20 years before we got here."