The first-week-of-class blahs induced some sloppy play from Georgia, but the Lady Bulldogs managed to survive.
Georgia outlasted Florida 61-55 on Thursday at Stegeman Coliseum, just four days removed from the beginning of Georgia’s spring semester.
No. 19 Georgia (14-3, 3-1 Southeastern Conference) played fast and loose with the ball much of the night. The Lady Bulldogs committed season-high 24 turnovers, including 15 in the second half.
“There was just a lot of carelessness,” Georgia guard Jasmine James said. “I think there was a lot of fatigue involved and it got into our head. We didn’t do a good job of dealing with their pressure. We let them speed us up with the presses that they were in and we didn’t do a good job of adjusting. We played out of control.”
Anne Marie Armstrong and Khaalidah Miller each scored 19 for Georgia . Florida (11-6, 1-3) was led by Jennifer George with 15 points, Deana Allen had 14 and Jordan Jones had 13.
“It feels good to know that we didn’t crack under pressure,” Miller said. “Florida came out and tried to jump us at the beginning of the second half and that threw us back a little. It wasn’t so much them, but it was more about us having problems with turnovers and we beat ourselves up.”
Florida trailed by as many as 15 in the second half. But periodic hot streaks from the outside and Georgia’s penchant for turning the ball over opened the door for the Gators to pull within three points
midway through the second half and four with 2:57 left in the game.
“It was hard-fought, so I’ve got to be pleased with that,” Georgia coach Andy Landers said. “What I did not like about the game was the sloppiness of the passing. The carelessness and the non-chalant passes that resulted in really quick Florida players making plays disturbs me. Not only were they turnovers, some of them were turners-slash-assists for Florida because they ran them in and scored.”
Florida pulled within three points halfway through the second half as it scored nine straight points on three consecutive trips down the floor.
Florida had a pair of 3-pointers from Deana Allen and Jordan Jones. A traditional layup and free throw by Jennifer George pulled the Gators within 40-37 with 9:26 left in the game.
Miller hit a 3-pointer to push Georgia’s lead back to six points the next trip down the floor.
“When they’re defending us like that and we’re turning the ball over and they’re getting easy baskets, it’s going to be a sloppy game,” James said. “But we did a really good job overcoming those turnovers and overcoming the things that were not working out for us and being able to win.”
A pair of 3-pointer by Jones and a pair of free throws by Jaterra Bonds cut Georgia’s lead to 53-49 with 2:57 left in the game. But Georgia responded with a free throw from James, a layup by freshman Krista Donald and a jumper by Miller to give the Lady Bulldogs a 58-51 lead with less than a minute remaining.
Georgia went on a 20-8 run in the final 11 minutes of the first half as Miller accounted for 10 of Georgia’s points in that run.
“We just wanted to keep them on their heels,” Armstrong said. “Our ball pressure really disrupted their offense and that’s what we wanted to do.”
Georgia’s defense led the way in the first half as the Lady Bulldogs built a 29-16 lead.
“I, as well as my team, am really frustrated with playing such great second halves but having to overcome so much because we played so poorly in the first half,” Florida coach Amanda Butler said. “We’ve just got to get better in the first few minutes of the ball game.”
Georgia held Florida to 7 of 28 (25 percent) field-goal shooting in the first half, including 1 of 12 (8.3 percent) from the 3-point line.
Georgia forced 12 first-half turnovers that it turned into 11 points. About the only positive for Florida in the first half was it outrebounded the Lady Bulldogs 19-16, including 11 offensive boards.
NOTEWORTHY: Georgia shot a season-best 18 of 22 (81.2 percent) from the free-throw line. … Armstrong was 8-for-8 from the line and has hit 30 of 36 this season (83.3 percent). … Meredith Mitchell had a season-high two blocks.