ATLANTA — Georgia Tech senior center Ben Lammers narrowly missed his first career triple-double Sunday with 19 points, 13 rebounds and eight blocked shots to lead the Yellow Jackets to a 65-62 win over Bethune-Cookman.
Freshman Jose Alvarado added 18 points to help Georgia Tech (1-1) move to 31-0 against schools from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. But Bethune-Cookman (1-3) made the Yellow Jackets work in their home opener.
Bethune-Cookman’s Isaiah Bailey hit a 3-pointer to pull the Bobcats within 63-62 with 11.4 seconds left in the game.
The Jackets moved ahead 65-62 on a pair of free throws by Abdoulaye Gueye with 7.6 seconds to go, and after a timeout, Bethune-Cookman’s Malik Maitland got off a 3-point shot that missed badly a couple seconds later and Brandon Tabb failed to get off another before time expired.
Tabb scored 12 of his 24 in the first half, and forward Shawntrez Davis had 12 points and 10 rebounds for Bethune-Cookman, which trailed 35-29 at halftime.
“I thought we did a great job of coming out and competing and playing against a quality ball club like Georgia Tech,” said Bethune-Cookman’s first-year coach Ryan Ridder.
Lammers nearly put up the fifth triple-double in program history with the last coming on Iman Shumpert’s 22 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists against Virginia Tech on Jan. 25, 2011.
The Bobcats outscored the Yellow Jackets by 33 points from beyond the arc, making 12-of-28 in Georgia Tech’s second game without guards Josh Okogie and Tadric Jackson.
Okogie and Jackson, Tech’s leading- and third-leader scorers last season, are serving suspensions of six and three games, respectively, for receiving benefits in violation of NCAA rules.
“Until we get Tadric or Josh back … it’s just going to be a grind for us,” Georgia Tech coach Josh Pastner said. “Tadd hit some 3s I don’t even think he was looking at the basket.”
Bethune-Cookman: Considering their size disadvantage, the Wildcats fairly held their own in the rebounding battle, but Georgia Tech blocked 10 of their shots. The Wildcats also were outscored 30-14 in the paint.
Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets are playing their four scholarship freshman a great deal as sophomore guard Josh Okogie and senior guard Tadric Jackson are serving suspensions for receiving benefits in violation of NCAA rules. Okogie will be sidelined four more games, and Jackson one. Sophomore center Sylvester Ogbonda also missed his second game with a knee sprain.
Lammers’ all-around play hardly came as a surprise. He was second-team All-ACC last season, averaging 14.2 points and 9.2 rebounds with an ACC-leading 125 blocked shots. He was the ACC defensive player of the year, and Sunday added four steals and two assists. He said, “knew I had to step up in these early games just because we’re missing a couple key players.”
FREE THROWS PROVE COSTLY
Bethune-Cookman was just 10 of 25 from the free-throw line. “I don’t have an answer for that one,” Ridder said. “I feel like we’ve got a solid free-throw shooting group.”
Bethune-Cookman: The Wildcats, who will travel 19,154 combined miles to play 18 road games this season — including a Dec. 19 trip to the University of Washington — will next play at home in Daytona Beach, Florida, on Tuesday against Grambling State.
Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets will look to find their 3-point stroke Wednesday, when Texas-Rio Grande Valley visits McCamish Pavilion. The Jackets have made just 5 of 26 long balls in two games.