The Georgia Women’s Basketball team returned home to Stegeman Coliseum after four away games to defeat the Mercer Bears 67-60 on Wednesday night. This is Georgia’s 23rd victory in a row over Mercer in the series that began in 1974.
This win for the Bulldogs was a perfect example of the team coming to together after a few road losses to accomplish a victory. Taja Cole, who traditionally scores at least 12 points per game, scored only six because she spent her 40 minutes in the game being a defender and making assists, not baskets. Her performance allowed for senior Caliya Robinson to have a double-double with 30 points, matching her career high, and 17 rebounds, flirting with her career high of 19, in her 35 minutes on the court.
“I need to play well for my team to play well. I realized that when we were in Puerto Rico,” said Robinson. “I know I started out slow in the beginning of the season and I am trying to come out 120 (percent) every game so that I can play well and have a good game but also help my team.”
Although Mercer did not secure the win, they put up a fight. They were the first team to put points on the board and continued to lead the game until the last two minutes of the second quarter when Georgia freshman Donnetta Johnson tied it up with a jumper and Robinson and Jenna Staiti followed with points to helped to push the score to 35-30 before the half.
At the beginning of the fourth quarter, Mercer gave Georgia fans another scare by surpassing the Bulldogs on the scoreboard 51-48 with a jumper from senior guard KeKe Calloway followed by two successful free throws from sophomore Shannon Titus. The Lady Bulldogs wrestled back the lead for the rest of the game only three minutes later with a tip-in from Robinson.
“I never expected them to not be in the game,” head coach Joni Taylor said. “Mercer is really good. They were 30-3 last year and we gave them two of their losses. I never expected this to be a game that we were going to blow them out.”
Near the end of the game, Georgia’s forward Malury Bates collapsed in the paint holding her left knee. The injury occurred after Bates was confronted by a defender with just seconds left in the third quarter. She looked to be in extreme pain and had to be helped off the court by Taylor and another coach. After the game, she was seen on crutches and her injured knee wrapped in ice. Coach Taylor had no update on her condition at the post-game press conference.
The Lady Bulldogs will remain at home for the next two games on their schedule: Charleston Southern at 2 pm on Sunday, December 2nd, and Furman also at 2 pm on Tuesday, December 4th.