Lotta-Maj Lahtinen scored 22 points, Lorela Cubaj had 21 points and 12 rebounds, and No. 5 seed Georgia Tech used a big third quarter to beat No. 4 West Virginia 73-56 on Tuesday in the second round of the women’s NCAA Tournament.
The Yellow Jackets needed a second-half rally in the opening round against Stephen F. Austin — the fourth-largest comeback in tournament history — but had this game well in control with a 17-point lead over the Mountaineers to start the fourth. Their European inside-outside combo of Cubaj, from Italy, and Lahtinen, of Finland, led the way.
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Lahtinen was 9 of 16 from the field and struck for 17 points in the first half to dig the Yellow Jackets out of an early hole.
Georgia Tech (17-8) advanced to the Sweet 16 for the second time in program history and first since 2012. The Yellow Jackets will meet Tuesday night’s winner between No. 1 South Carolina and No. 8 Oregon State in the Hemisfair Region.
Esmery Martinez scored 13 points to lead West Virginia (22-7).
Georgia Tech turned the ball over eight times in the first quarter — four in the first five possessions — and trailed 15-6 before clawing back within 17-15 when Cubaj snatched an air ball and flipped it backward for a layup at the buzzer.
The Yellow Jackets cleaned up the sloppy play in the second and Lahtinen got rolling.
She was 0-for-7 from long range in the first round, but scored 10 of Georgia Tech’s final 14 points of the quarter, including two 3-pointers, to help build a 36-32 halftime lead.
Lahtinen and Cubaj then scored all nine of Georgia Tech’s points in a 9-4 run to over the final four minutes of the third that broke the game open.
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Cubaj, the ACC’s co-defensive player of the year, anchored a Georgia Tech defense that smothered West Virginia’s Kysre Gondrezick, who scored three points and took just six shots after scoring 26 in the first-round win over Lehigh.