Behind a stout defensive effort and balanced team scoring, the Georgia Lady Bulldog basketball team (11-1) comfortably dispatched Cincinnati (4-7) by a 60-42 final score on Wednesday at Stegeman Coliseum.
The Lady Bulldogs did not allow a 3-pointer for the Bearcats until there was less than four minutes left in the game, and they limited Cincinnati to just 24.1-percent shooting from the floor while forcing 13 turnovers. Georgia did not allow any visiting players to reach double-digit scoring in the contest.
Shacobia Barbee and Mackenzie Engram led the way offensively for the home squad with 12 and 11 points, respectively. Tiaria Griffin also had a strong game with eight points and eight rebounds, tying her season high. A total of 10 Georgia players scored in the contest, and six Lady Bulldogs had five or more points.
“That’s the beauty of this team, they share the ball so well. Anyone can score on any given night, you never know where the points are going to come from,” said head coach Joni Taylor. “This is the game that always scares me. We want to make sure (the players) are thinking about our opponent, not going home for the holidays.”
The Lady Bulldogs got off to a hot start against the Bearcats on the offensive end, draining five of their first six shots from the field as they raced out to a 12-6 lead. On the defensive end, Georgia frustrated the visitors by holding Cincinnati to 5-of-16 from the field, but a 1-for-12 shooting slump of their own held the Bulldogs’ lead to just 14-12 through 10 minutes.
Georgia found its scoring touch in the second quarter with a 7-0 run in the early going to find some breathing room at 21-12 and force a timeout. The lockdown defense continued for the home side as the Lady Bulldogs did not allow a point to the Bearcats in the second quarter until the 4:21 mark. The second period was dominated by Georgia, with the Lady Bulldogs outscoring their opposition 14-4 and taking a 28-16 lead into the locker room.
Merritt Hempe and Griffin stormed out of the locker room, scoring the first nine points of the half for the Lady Bulldogs to push the lead to 37-19 in the half’s opening four minutes. The teams traded buckets for the rest of the quarter, and Georgia led 45-25 at the end of three.
The secondary scoring continued in the early running of the fourth quarter, with Haley Clark scoring after Halle Washington poured in six points of her own in the third. Caliya Robinson became the 10th Georgia player to score with a bucket in the fourth as well. With 3:47 remaining in the game, a 3-pointer from the wing gave the Bearcats their first make from distance of the game. It was the first of three consecutive makes from deep, but the Bearcats never brought the game closer than a 17-point differential.
The Lady Bulldogs will be back in action on Monday, Dec. 28 when they take on Tennessee Tech at 7 p.m.