Final exams don’t start until Thursday, but Georgia got better-than-passing grades heading into the end of the fall semester as the No. 6 Lady Bulldogs blasted Mercer 80-38 on Tuesday at Stegeman Coliseum.
“I think for the most part we’re playing really well,” Georgia guard Jasmine James said. “We’ve had the opportunity to go on the road and win and play in a different environment which isn’t always easy to do. We’ve been able to come out with wins there. Then we’ve been able to come back to our place and win. We’ve had a few rough patches, but that’s kind of expected. You’re not going to be perfect for the entire season. But we’ve done a really good job of just going out there and pretty much, I’d say, dominating for the most part.”
Georgia improves to 10-0 for the first time since starting the 2009-10 season with 16 straight wins. Georgia is also the first program in the 343-team NCAA Division I to reach 10 wins this season. Georgia will go on an 11-day break from games for final exams before resuming on Dec. 16 at home against Lipscomb.
“I like what I see so far, absolutely,” Georgia coach Andy Landers said. “I think we’ve grown. I think we’ve matured. I think we’ve gained some confidence. I think two of our seniors have just blossomed, and by the end of the year they can be full-blown. I think (Jasmine) Hassell and J.J. (Jasmine James) are really on a roll. I don’t mean just the way that they’re playing, but the energy and the enthusiasm that they’re playing with. That’s exactly what you hope for and for seniors especially.”
Georgia went into Tuesday’s game with an average margin of victory of 25.7 points a game. But it started sluggishly on offense, hitting 14 of 41 (34.1 percent) from the field in the first half. But Georgia’s pace of play improved in the second half as it outscored Mercer 46-17 for a 42-point final margin.
“I think we’re playing well, but I don’t think we’re the best team right now,” Hassell said. “There’s a lot we need to improve on and I think this break is going to help us work on things we couldn’t work on because we had games back-to-back-to-back. We didn’t start the first half like we wanted to. But we picked up and redeemed ourselves. Going into a break, you need that. You need to understand that you’ve got to keep fighting and get better over the period of the game.”
Georgia showed offensive balance with six players with at least seven points. Hassell, James and Erika Ford led with 12 points apiece, while Khaalidah Miller had 10. Marjorie Butler scored nine points and had five assists, and Anne Marie Armstrong added seven points and seven rebounds. Freshman Shacobia Barbee had six steals, six assists and six rebounds to go with five points.
“I think the team is playing great,” Butler said. “We’ve been playing almost every other day. We’ve played 10 games now. We’re now going into a break for exams, so this is not only a good win heading into exams but a good win to end this first segment of our season.”
Georgia’s defense was especially potent on Tuesday as it held Mercer to 15-of-52 (28.8 percent) field-goal shooting and forced 28 turnovers that the Lady Bulldogs turned into 36 points.
“It’s very encouraging to end it like that,” James said. “… We’re going to have a lot of momentum going into the break and the practices, so we can work and continue to improve. I’m just excited to see what kind of team we’re going to be when we come back in two weeks because we’re just going to continue to get better and better.”
Mercer (4-3) was led by Kendra Grant, who hit 7 of 16 field goals and scored 16 points. The rest of the Bears hit 8 of 36 combined from the field and scored 26 points.
“I knew after playing for Coach Landers that he was going to get on them pretty good at halftime,” Mercer coach Susie Gardner said. Gardner is a former Georgia player and assistant coach. “Georgia hit a lot of 3s. I don’t think that’s necessarily their M.O. But they hit a lot of 3s on us. They’re bigger, quicker, stronger and faster than us. They’re very, very good, and I think they’ll go far in the NCAA tournament this year.”
NOTEWORTHY: Georgia guard Danielle Bennett returned after missing the first nine games with an eye infection and hit a 3-pointer. Georgia was missing freshman forward Merritt Hempe, who was out with an injured right foot and will likely be held out until after the break. … All 11 of the active Lady Bulldogs played and all scored at least one point. … Georgia shot 9 of 15 from the 3-point line in the second half.
No. 6 GEORGIA 80, MERCER 38
S. Smith 0-0 0-0 0, Grant 7-16 0-0 16, Boykin 1-5 0-0 2, Robinson 1-2 1-2 3, Bradshaw 1-9 3-4 5, Prieto 0-2 0-0 0, Alemann 2-5 0-0 4, Bridges 3-13 0-0 8. Totals 15-52 4-6 38.
Miller 4-7 0-0 10, Armstrong 3-10 0-0 7, James 6-12 0-0 12, Hassell 5-13 2-4 12, Barbee 2-5 0-0 5, Bennett 1-1 0-0 3, Griffin 2-7 0-0 5, Causwell 2-5 0-0 4, Willis 0-2 1-2 1, Butler 4-5 0-0 9, Ford 5-8 0-1 12. Totals 34-75 3-7 80.
Halftime — Georgia 34-21. 3-Point Goals — Mercer 4-17 (Bridges 2-3, Grant 2-6, Alemann 0-1, Boykin 0-2, Prieto 0-2, Bradshaw 0-3), Georgia 9-15 (Ford 2-2, Miller 2-4, Butler 1-1, Barbee 1-1, Bennett 1-1, Armstrong 1-2, Griffin 1-4). Fouled Out — None. Rebounds — Mercer 40 (Alemann 9), Georgia 42 (Barbee, Ford 6). Assists — Mercer 12 (Boykin 7), Georgia 22 (Armstrong 7). Total Fouls — Mercer 7, Georgia 5. A — 2,311.