The Georgia women’s basketball team returned from a dreadful offensive performance earlier this week wondering what happened to its shooting.
But on Sunday against a team that has given the Lady Bulldogs trouble recently, Georgia out-lasted Vanderbilt 55-50 on senior day at Stegeman Coliseum. Last Thursday Georgia set season lows for shooting and scoring as it lost at Mississippi State 50-38.
“Compared to Thursday, we played terrific,” Georgia guard Jasmine James said. “There’s no explanation for what happened on Thursday. We did a really good job today of coming out and playing hard from the start to the finish. Vanderbilt made a run at the end. But it was just that type of a game. Vanderbilt is a good team, and good teams make good runs.
“Everybody played well and focused on what we needed to do to change what happened on Thursday. We stayed the course. We stayed focused and everybody contributed. It’s a great win, not just for today but for us in the long run as we get ready to head into the SEC Tournament.”
No. 11 Georgia (24-5, 12-4 Southeastern Conference) goes into the SEC tournament, which begins Wednesday in Duluth, with a first-round bye as the No. 3 seed as a result of Kentucky defeating Tennessee 78-65 on Sunday.
Georgia will play at 8:30 p.m. Friday against the winner of the first-round matchup between sixth-seeded LSU and 11th-seeded Auburn.
“We came out of Starkville with nothing to feel good about,” Georgia coach Andy Landers said. “Today I think we have everything to feel good about. I think our team displayed a lot of discipline today both on the offensive end and the defensive end. We stayed the course. We did exactly what we needed to do.”
In their final game at Stegeman Coliseum, Jasmine Hassell and Jasmine James were Georgia’s only double-figure scorers with 16 and 10, respectively. Hassell also had six rebounds and two assists, and James contributed five assists. Fellow senior starter Anne Marie Armstrong added two points, had three rebounds and three assists.
“It feels great to get this win,” Hassell said. “It feels great to actually execute and do what we’re supposed to do. We executed our game plan well. We did what we had to do to get a win today.”
Freshman Shacobia Barbee had nine points, five rebounds and three steals while Tiaria Griffin had eight points.
“We came out with a lot of energy,” Barbee said. “I think we were really in tune with our game plan. We hustled on defense. We didn’t foul them because they needed free throws. We played really good defense. Our offense was connecting. We got the ball to Hassell. It all worked out for us.”
Vanderbilt (19-10, 9-7) had beaten Georgia eight of the last 10 times until the Lady Bulldogs’ win on Sunday.
The Commodores were led by Jasmine Lister with 17 points and Tiffany Clarke with 13.
“I think they pressured us and got us on our heels,” Vanderbilt coach Melanie Balcomb said. “We weren’t very strong with the basketball and they just punched it out of our hands and took us out of all of our timing on offense. Even when we got our good looks, we didn’t knock them down, which led to a very frustrating first half of basketball.”
Georgia held Vanderbilt to 6-of-20 shooting (30 percent) in the first half and forced 14 of its 21 turnovers in the first period while building a 27-18 lead. Hassell scored eight in a row as Georgia went on a 10-2 run to take a 25-15 lead with 4:27 left in the first half.
“Hassell is great, and anytime she’s open and we can get it in there, we’re definitely going to try to get the ball to her,” James said. “We weren’t just focused on that today, but for the whole season, period. If she’s open, get it to her. She’s a high-percentage shooter. She did a really good job of finishing when she got the ball and also did a good job of getting their five-man (post) in foul trouble. She was great today, eight points in a row really helped to spark us.”
The ending of the game became a little more dramatic than Georgia wanted. Vanderbilt closed on an 8-3 run as Georgia had some shaky moments with turnovers in the final minute. Senior reserves Tamika Willis and Danielle Bennett were about a possession away from checking into their final home game but a turnover and a jumper by Morgan Batey pulled Vanderbilt within 52-48 with 22 seconds left. James hit a layup and Barbee hit a free throw to finally put the game away.
“We kind of lost momentum there,” Hassell said. “We did some silly things that are very correctable. We shouldn’t have done it but it happened and we need to learn from it.”
NOTEWORTHY: Georgia has now won two straight against Vanderbilt after loosing the previous five meetings. … James played all 40 minutes of the game. It was the fourth time in the last seven games that she’s played all 40 minutes. … Georgia forced 21 turnovers and has forced at least 20 turnovers 18 times this season. … Georgia and Vanderbilt combined to shoot 3-for-20 (15 percent) from the 3-point line. Georgia was 2-for-11 and Vanderbilt was 1-for-9.