Just a couple of days after breaking her nose, Jasmine Hassell donned her Lone Ranger mask and helped rescue Georgia’s offense.
Hassell supplied Georgia’s only consistent shooting as the No. 13-ranked Lady Bulldogs beat No. 18-ranked South Carolina 42-40 on Sunday at Stegeman Coliseum.
“There was a lot of (defensive) pressure on the guards,” Hassell said. “South Carolina is a really good defensive team, so we just tried to execute where they didn’t pressure. I practiced in the mask, so it wasn’t that bad. I can see fine. Luckily it’s not the full mask, so I can see perfectly. There was no double-rim or double-ball there. It was just there to protect my nose.”
A 6-foot-2 senior from Lebanon, Tenn., Hassell hit 8 of 13 shots and was the only Lady Bulldog to score in double figures with 19 points.
After South Carolina had cut Georgia’s lead to 41-40, Hassell got an offensive rebound, was fouled and 1 of 2 free throws with 18 seconds left to help protect Georgia’s late advantage.
“Jaz (Hassell) was great tonight for us,” Georgia guard Jasmine James said. “We knew coming into tonight’s game that we were really going to need her to play huge. We were able to get the entry passes inside and get her the ball. We we got it to her, she did a really good job of making plays and finishing. She was huge for us tonight and she’s been huge for us all year. We’re going to need for her to have games like this if we’re going to continue to be successful.”
Defense set the pace for both teams. Georgia (15-2, 3-1 in the Southeastern Conference) held South Carolina (14-3, 2-2) to its lowest scoring output since getting 32 against Stanford in 2010. South Carolina held Georgia to its lowest scoring output since getting 41 against LSU on Jan. 30, 2011. It was Georgia’s lowest point total in a win in the history of the program. It broke the previous record of 43 against Dekalb College in 1974 which was the first win in the history of the program.
“(South Carolina) is really good defensively,” Georgia coach Andy Landers said. “They get by with stuff other people don’t get by with. They’re very good and we knew we were going to have to be very good to get very much done. Our kids prepared well with the zone and then they went out and executed it. There’s no magic to what they did. When you don’t score, you get a little bit frustrated and it’s hard to score. Then you get a little bit more frustrated and it snowballs on you.”
South Carolina came into the game with the SEC’s top scoring defense (47.4 points per game) and top field goal defense (33.6 percent). Georgia was No. 2 in the SEC in scoring defense (52.1 points per game) and No. 5 in field goal defense (36.5 percent). Georgia used a 2-3 zone most of the game and held the Gamecocks to 5 of 23 (21.7 percent) field goal shooting in the half. Georgia also held South Carolina without a 3-pointer as the Gamecocks missed all 11 of their attempts.
“They’re pretty much a penetrating team,” Georgia guard Khaalidah Miller said. “Their guards like to penetrate so we figured if we went ahead and zoned them, their guards would have trouble shooting.”
South Carolina was led by Aleighsa Welch who scored 19 points on 8 of 10 shooting. Tiffany Mitchell also had 10 rebounds for the Gamecocks.
“They (Georgia) played zone for 90 percent of the game and they played it well,” South Carolina coach Dawn Staley said. “You’ve just got to find ways to make shots on the inside. It’s a shame somebody had to lose this game because both teams played extremely hard and it’s what our league is all about. It’s hard to win games on the road and I think if we’re in Columbia, we win. Because they’re here (Athens) they won the game.”
South Carolina held the lead through much of the game. But Georgia freshman Shacobia Barbee hit a free throw to give Georgia the lead for good at 37-36 with 5:17 left. James hit a jumper to push Georgia’s advantage to 39-36 with 2:25 left and Hassell hit a short jumper to push the Lady Bulldogs’ lead to 41-36 with 1:30 left.
South Carolina had a chance to tie late. But Ashley Bruner’s jumper with three seconds left missed, Barbee rebounded and Georgia ran out the clock.
NOTEWORTHY: South Carolina out-rebounded Georgia 37-28 and had 12 offensive rebounds. … Both teams just had one double-figure scorer, Hassell for Georgia and Welch for South Carolina. … Hassell hit 8 of 13 from the field (61.5 percent) for Georgia, the rest of the Lady Bulldogs hit 9 of 33 (27.3 percent). Welch hit 8 of 10 (80 percent) from the field for South Carolina, the rest of the Gamecocks hit 8 of 37 (21.6 percent).