The No. 23 Georgia women‚Äôs basketball team surged in the second half against Furman on Tuesday night to defeat the Paladins 72-48.
Georgia (4-0) entered halftime trailing Furman 31-22, but took the floor with a new defensive spark in the second half and outscored the Paladins 50-17 in the final 20 minutes. Krista Donald scored the first four points of the half with a layup and a jumper to cut the Paladins‚Äô lead to five, and Georgia went on to score 18 unanswered points before Furman could get on the board in the second half. Coach Andy Landers said he couldn‚Äôt remember his past teams making many runs like that one.
‚ÄúWe‚Äôve had streaks where we‚Äôve scored and gone off like that,‚Äù Landers said. ‚ÄúIn 35 years we‚Äôve had a little bit of everything happen. We‚Äôve probably had people streak on us like that, but I don‚Äôt remember. It‚Äôs certainly special.‚Äù
With 15:43 left to play, Donald went to the hole and was fouled as she made a two-pointer. Donald‚Äôs free throw knotted the game up at 31. Georgia took its first lead of the night when Shacobia Barbee drilled a 3 to put the Lady Dogs up 34-31. Furman (1-3) coach Jackie Carson was forced to call a timeout after the basket.
Donald finished the game with 13 points and 10 rebounds; the first time she‚Äôs had back-to-back double-doubles in her career.
The slow start to the game didn‚Äôt shock the Lady Dogs. Senior guard Khaalidah Miller has experienced no shortage of slow starts in first halves this season, and credited Georgia‚Äôs second half defense for its overall success against Furman.
‚ÄúI would definitely say we played better defense the second half coming out,‚Äù said Miller, who recorded her 1,000th career point in the game. ‚ÄúWe got out in transition and found the open person and we hit more shots the second half, obviously.‚Äù
Furman finally got on the board in the second half by way of a layup from Brittany Hodges, but it was too late. The Lady Dogs had already gained all the momentum they needed. It was smooth sailing for Georgia from there as its dominance culminated in a landslide victory.
‚ÄúThey didn‚Äôt go from being really good shooters to bad shooters. The momentum flipped on them,‚Äù Landers said. ‚ÄúWe came out the second half and started trapping ball screens and it really upset them.‚Äù
The Lady Dogs dug themselves into a hole early in the first half. Furman‚Äôs Erica Norwood nailed a 3 to start the game, which she followed up with a layup to put the Paladins up 5-0 in the opening minutes. Georgia‚Äôs troubles continued as Miller missed two 3-pointers, allowing Hodges to hit a jumper to put the Paladins up 7-0 with 17:37 remaining in the first half.
Griffin, a sophomore guard, scored her first bucket of the season with a 3-pointer on the following possession to cut the Paladins‚Äô lead to 4. Griffin finished the first half with 10 points and shot 4 of 8 from the field. Griffin, who made her debut for Georgia on Tuesday after serving a three-game suspension, didn‚Äôt start the game, but made her contribution count. Griffin paced the Lady Dogs with a career-high 21 points. She also finished the game with a career-high six steals.
‚ÄúI feel like tonight was a good night,‚Äù Griffin said. ‚ÄúHe (Landers) was like, ‚ÄôYou need a blow?,‚Äô and I was like, ‚ÄòNo I‚Äôm good, I‚Äôm good.‚Äô I didn‚Äôt want to get off the court tonight.‚Äù
The Lady Dogs connected on just nine of 29 shots to finish the first half shooting 31 percent. The Paladins, however, shot 44 percent from the field in the first half. Furman also hit five of its 10 3-point attempts in the opening half. Both teams had 11 turnovers to start the game.
Miller finished the game with 12 points, six rebounds and three assists.
‚ÄúI‚Äôm excited. I anticipated it happening,‚Äù Miller said. ‚ÄúI didn‚Äôt know how many points I had left, but it‚Äôs exciting definitely to be able to make history like that.‚Äù
The Lady Dogs return to action on Sunday as they take on Georgia Tech at 2 p.m. in Stegeman Coliseum.