COLLEGE STATION, Texas ‚Äî No. 14 Texas A&M rallied from a six-point deficit with just over a minute to play to force overtime and then topped Georgia 78-73 at Reed Arena on Thursday evening.
Merritt Hempe led Georgia (16-8, 4-7) with a career-high 19 points before fouling out with 1:06 remaining. Tiaria Griffin added 13 points, all in the second half, and Krista Donald scored 10 points in 44 minutes of action. Shacobia Barbee grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds for the Lady Bulldogs.
Courtney Walker paced A&M (19-6, 9-2) with 25 points.
“We played extremely hard and with the exception of the turnovers, we definitely played well enough to win,” head coach Andy Landers said. “Texas A&M pressured us to get those turnovers and they converted those and made us pay. Those quick points they were able to score off turnovers were the difference in the game.”
The Aggies led for only 1:04 of regulation, at 2-0 and 38-35, but then scored the first four points of overtime at the foul line and rallied again after Georgia regained the lead.
After A&M opened the game’s scoring, the Lady Bulldogs reeled off 11 straight points over the next 6:23. The Aggies ended the run with a Courtney Williams layup, but Georgia put together an 8-0 spurt to build a 19-4 lead with 8:47 left in the half. Hempe did much of the damage, scoring 11 points and reaching double figures on a layup at the 10:37 mark.
Georgia earned its largest lead of the half after Erika Ford drove the length of the court to score and put the Lady Bulldogs up 27-11 and eventually led 29-17 at the intermission.
Despite a sluggish start to the second half, Georgia still led 35-25 with 13:51 remaining before a 13-0 Aggie surge put them up 38-35 just 2:52 later.
Griffin knocked down a 3-pointer to knot the score and ignite a 16-6 Georgia run covering 2:35 that put the Lady Bulldogs up 51-44.
Georgia led 62-56 with 1:26 left following a Donald jumper, but Walker was fouled after grabbing an offensive rebound following a missed 3-point attempt. She hit both free throws with 1:06 remaining. Khaalidah Miller was whistled for an offensive foul 10 seconds later and Walker coverted a jumper to trim the margin to two points.
Another turnover with 39 seconds on the clock gave A&M possession again. Jordan Jones’ layup tied the score with 25 second left.
Griffin missed a jumper, but Georgia retained possession when Donald batted the offensive board to Ford. A Ford turnover gave A&M possession with seven seconds left before Williams’ potential game-winner rattled out and forced the game into overtime.
The Aggies led 66-62 less than a minute into the extra session but Georgia regained a 69-68 edge on a Ford 3-pointer from the right corner.
The Lady Bulldogs will return to action on Sunday when they host Florida at 1 p.m.