Behind a 16-point performance from freshman Mackenzie Engram, the No. 22 Georgia Lady Bulldogs upset No. 10 Texas A&M 54-51 in a physical battle on Thursday night in Stegeman Coliseum.
The Lady Bulldogs improve to 17-3 on the year with a 5-2 mark in the Southeastern Conference, while the Aggies fall to 16-4 overall (4-2 SEC). The victory marks Georgia’s first win over a top-10 team since the 2012-13 season in which the Lady Bulldogs made the Elite Eight.
[break] [break] “It’s a confidence booster game,” Shacobia Barbee said.
Engram led Georgia’s scoring campaign with 16 points, shooting 5-for-7 from the field, 2-for-2 from behind the arc and 4-for-4 from the line. She also added seven rebounds in her sixth career double-digit game. Marjorie Butler equaled her career high with 11 points, and Merritt Hempe had a team-high eight rebounds and six points.
“The best thing about Mackenzie’s game was that she executed,” head coach Andy Landers said. “She made shots, made some plays on top of some shots and rebounded the ball well. Mackenzie was terrific for us.”
Georgia outscored the Aggies 20-8 in the paint, 23-9 off the bench, and 14-6 off second-chance points. The Lady Bulldogs also earned 13 points from the line, shooting 72.2 percent, while the Aggies were 1-of-2 on free throws.
The opening half proved a rebounding battle in which Georgia never trailed. The Lady Bulldogs opened with an early lead off a jumper from Butler, but the Aggies quickly tied the score at six a piece. Georgia used a field goal from Erika Ford to ignite an 11-2 run which included baskets from five different players over an eight-minute span.
[break] [break] Texas A&M responded with a run of its own, outscoring the Lady Bulldogs 9-3 and drawing within three points of the lead. After a three-minute scoring standstill, a long 3 from Engram gave Georgia a 27-21 advantage at the break.
The Aggies rallied in the second period, taking a one-point lead with less than eight minutes to play. Engram, who had five offensive rebounds on the night, set up Tiaria Griffin for a score, but she was fouled on the way to the basket. Griffin was a perfect 3-for-3 from the line, allowing Georgia to retake the lead.
Up 48-47 with three minutes to play, Engram grabbed a defensive rebound that led to a layup from Hempe. Moments later, Barbee recorded a steal and passed to Butler. The ball was knocked from her hands as she took a shot, but Griffin was there to recover and sink a layup, putting Georgia up five with 1:38 to play.
The Aggies pulled within a point with 18 seconds to play on a long field goal shot from Courtney Williams. However, Butler was fouled on her way to the basket and made both free throws, icing the game for Georgia with nine seconds on the clock.
Butler is now 13-of-14 in the final 30 seconds of wins over TCU, Ohio State, Georgia Tech, Furman and the Aggies.
“It was a heavyweight fight,” Landers said. “I thought our kids were perfect defensively, they really were. We took away exactly what we wanted to take away, and then we did a reasonably good job rebounding the ball on the defensive end. But on the offensive end, we were terrific at rebounding the ball. When you add both ends together, we get the advantage rebounding the basketball and that results in possessions. And in a game like this, possessions win.”
Georgia will hit the road to continue its four-game stretch of play against top-20 SEC teams. The Lady Bulldogs tipoff at 2 p.m. ET on Sunday at No. 5 Tennessee and face the No. 14 Kentucky Wildcats at 1 p.m. ET on Feb. 1. Georgia will return home to host No. 1 South Carolina at 7 p.m. ET on Feb. 5.
Single-game reserved seat tickets for Lady Bulldog games are $5 for adults and $3 for children. UGA students, faculty and staff are admitted to all Lady Bulldog games free of charge with a valid UGA Card. Faculty and staff should pick up tickets at the Coliseum box office. Students are admitted to the arena via the entrance to the left of the box office by showing their UGA Card.
Single-game tickets are on sale via georgiadogs.com, by calling 877-542-1231 or in person at the UGA Ticket Office in the Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall from 8:30-4:30 on weekdays. In addition, single-game tickets go on sale at the Stegeman Coliseum box office (closest to Sanford Drive) beginning 60 minutes before tip-off of every home game.