Following a loss at Mississippi State, Georgia‚Äôs offense scored 48 first half points en route to an 84-63 victory over Ole Miss on Sunday.
Georgia (16-7, 4-6 SEC) put itself in good position early Sunday as the Lady Bulldogs shot 67 percent from the field in the game‚Äôs first five minutes to gain a quick 12-6 lead over visiting Ole Miss (10-15, 1-10 SEC).
‚ÄúI think it got everybody moving,‚Äù Georgia head coach Andy Landers said. ‚ÄúI think the way the game started just got everybody excited and moving, and wanting to be aggressive defensively because they could see that if we could turn them over we could get to the rim on them on the other end.‚Äù
The Lady Dogs‚Äô 84 points marked a new single-game high in SEC play this season, topping their previous total of 70, which they scored in an 85-70 loss to Tennessee on Jan. 5.
‚ÄúWe just took what they gave us; passed up a couple of open shots to hit another one,‚Äù junior guard Erika Ford said. ‚Äú(We) just moved the ball really well.‚Äù
Ford finished the game with a team-high 16 points and managed to find the open player for an assist on three occasions. Ford, who Landers said has struggled emotionally in the past, got the job done on Sunday.
‚ÄúShe‚Äôs really matured in that regard,‚Äù Landers said. ‚ÄúI think she knows what she‚Äôs capable of doing, and I don‚Äôt think she‚Äôs satisfied with this, but she also probably understands that every night‚Äôs not going to be Christmas.‚Äù
Ole Miss gave what may have been its most valiant effort by pulling within five points of the Lady Bulldogs with just over 13 minutes remaining in the first half, but Georgia‚Äôs offense proved to be a little too overpowering for the Rebels.
With 11:30 remaining in the first half, Ford capitalized on a drive to the basket by finishing a layup while drawing the shooting foul. The old fashioned three-point play put Georgia up 21-14.
‚ÄúWe executed really well tonight,‚Äù Ford said. ‚ÄúWe focused on it in practice and we just came out today and hit some shots.‚Äù
Later in the half, Georgia‚Äôs defense made one of its first memorable stands of the game when it forced an Ole Miss turnover as Valencia McFarland committed a five-second violation.
McFarland was held to 14 points on Sunday, but Landers said she could have easily ended up with more had the defense not stepped up to the challenge of stopping her.
Just minutes later, Georgia freshman Halle Washington asserted her dominance by blocking Ole Miss‚Äô Danielle McCray on a layup attempt. Washington, a freshman forward from Bossier City, La., tied her single game career-high block total of three in the win over Ole Miss.
Georgia clearly wasn‚Äôt afraid to play physically on Sunday, as sophomore Shacobia Barbee demonstrated by stepping over to draw an offensive foul on Ole Miss‚Äôs Tia Faleru on an uncontrolled drive to the basket.
Faleru, who led Ole Miss in points per game with an average of 16.7 prior to Sunday, was held to just four in Georgia‚Äôs win.
‚ÄúYou‚Äôve got to be pleased with that because Faleru is one of the top scorers in the conference, and to affect her the way we did today was definitely impressive,‚Äù Landers said. ‚ÄúWe didn‚Äôt want her to go off and get her‚Äôs, and we didn‚Äôt want McFarland in there pulling up and floating.‚Äù
The Lady Dogs‚Äô defensive dominance translated to offensive success on the other end of the floor.
With just over 5:30 to play in the first half, Georgia senior Khaalidah Miller found sophomore Marjorie Butler for a 3-pointer from the left wing to put the Lady Dogs ahead of the Rebels 32-18. Miller tied her career-high, single-game assist total of six in Sunday‚Äôs game.
‚ÄúI think we did really well in getting out and running in transition,‚Äù Miller said. ‚ÄúWe had a lot of transition points tonight.‚Äù
Georgia‚Äôs unselfish play continued as junior forward Krista Donald found sophomore Tiaria Griffin open in the left corner for a 3, which put the Lady Dogs up 40-26 with just under 1:20 left to play in the half.
The 3s continued to fall for Georgia until the buzzer sounded to signal the end of the first half. In fact, Ford had to knock down one more right before the Lady Dogs entered the locker room with a 48-29 halftime lead. One pass from Barbee was all the
junior guard needed to drill a long-distance 3 at the buzzer.
‚ÄúThey really did do a nice job,‚Äù Landers said. ‚ÄúWhen we did set up they executed very, very well. That first half, offensively, was impressive.‚Äù
Georgia gained enough momentum before the half to carry the Lady Dogs through the remainder of the game.
Ole Miss, however, didn‚Äôt let up as it fell behind. McFarland found Amber Singletary for 3 to pull within 21 of the Lady Dogs. Georgia‚Äôs defense was resilient, though. Beyond the arc would be Ole Miss‚Äô best chance to cut Georgia‚Äôs lead, due to the fact the Lady Dogs‚Äô defense had the paint locked down.
‚ÄúThat‚Äôs something we tried to key in on going into the game,‚Äù Miller said. ‚ÄúThey‚Äôre five man (Faleru) is really good. She‚Äôs one of the top scorers in the SEC and she only had four points tonight, so that shows how well our post players did guarding her.‚Äù
The Lady Dogs will be back in action on Thursday night as they tip off against Texas A&M at 8 in College Station.