What looked like it was going to be a blowout and the Lady Bulldogs’ first loss at home this season, turned out to be an emotional hard-fought battle to the end and a 66-62 win for Georgia over No. 13 Tennessee. This win makes the Bulldogs 3-1 in the conference and the first team to start 10-0 at home since the 2014-15 campaign.
Before the half, Georgia was floundering. They had missed 39 total shots, 26 of which were field goals. Taja Cole, who leads the SEC in assists, had made only three. Jenna Staiti, who ranks second in the SEC in blocks, had none. Both women had only two points on the board each.
Despite the disappointing performance in the first half, Georgia came back onto the court with fire in their bellies. With a little more than two minutes left in the third quarter, Cole shot her second three-pointer to tie up the game 41-41. She went on to make another three-point shot in the last second of the quarter to push the Bulldogs back into the lead 49-47.
In the fourth, Staiti showed the crowd what a playmaker she is. She was 3-4 in field goals and 4-5 in free throw shots, making her points for the quarter a total of 10. She also had a steal and a block that resulted in more shot opportunities for her team.
Throughout the second half, the fans were on their feet more than they were in their seats. The 5,867 fans showed their support and excitement after every Georgia shot made and every Tennessee shot stopped.
“Man, just hearing them cheer when we score,” said Caliya Robinson with a beaming smile after the game. “You saw how loud that gym got when we scored… I know for me it gave me sparks. It made me smile. It had me excited the whole game.” Robinson lead the team in points last night finishing with 16 on the board.
Many could have predicted the buzzer beater game as the Volunteers, No. 1, and the Bulldogs, No. 2, are the winningest programs in SEC history. But, no one had confidence in the team like they did in themselves.
“It is the expectation. It is Georgia basketball,” said head coach Joni Taylor in a postgame interview. “It is what is expected of you when you are here, when you are on staff, when you wear the uniform. So, it is the expectation and it is the standard…. I am happy for our ladies. We fought really hard Thursday night and had a lead and lost it. To come back home and be in that same situation, down 17 (points), and fight your butt off to come back and win and protect your home court, I am happy for them. We have been really hard them this year and they are starting to grow up a little bit. It is about being consistent and continuing to do the things that put us in this position.”
Georgia, 11-5 and the youngest team in the conference, will go on to play another SEC game at Missouri on Thursday, January 17th at 7:00 pm.