During Head Coach Joni Taylor’s second-year leading the Georgia women’s basketball program, the Lady Bulldogs made progress despite having to replace four senior starters and over 60 percent of the team’s scoring from the last season’s NCAA Tournament team.
Georgia answered the call in 2016-17 and still remains one of only three schools — joining Tennessee and the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay — to have a winning record every season since women’s basketball came under the auspices of the NCAA.
Redshirt senior and 2017 All-Southeastern Conference performer Pachis Roberts paced the team in both scoring and rebounding, while SEC All-Defensive Team selection Caliya Robinson finished third in the conference in blocked shots with 69 total. Robinson, who placed on the SEC All-Freshman Team a season ago, scored 20 points or more eight times and averaged 16.5 points and 8.1 rebounds per game over the last eight regular season contests.
Below is a closer look at Georgia’s 2016-17 season:
Georgia Exceeds Expectations
The Lady Bulldogs finished eighth in the SEC standings despite being picked 12th by league coaches and 10th by media in this year’s preseason poll. Georgia, which entered the year with three seniors who combined to start just 29 career games, came together at the right time. The Lady Bulldogs won six of their final 10 contests to help lay the foundation for the 2017-18 season and a strong group of returners as well as a top-10 signing class on its way.
Lady Bulldogs Take National Champion and National Runner-Up To The Wire
The Southeastern Conference had a strong showing in the postseason with South Carolina finishing as the National Champion and Mississippi State as the National Runner-Up after the Bulldogs broke Connecticut’s 111-game win streak in the Final Four. Against both South Carolina and MSU, Georgia had strong showings and took each team to the brink of defeat.The Lady Bulldogs led Mississippi State for over 31 minutes in Starkville, including a 42-39 lead going into the fourth quarter. Georgia also led No. 1 South Carolina, 55-53, with just over four minutes remaining and had a chance to tie it with three seconds to go during their meeting in Columbia earlier this year.
Take Down of Tennessee, Auburn And LSU A First Since 1997
Georgia recorded wins against Tennessee, Auburn and LSU in the same season for the first time since the 1996-97 campaign. The Lady Bulldogs (second), Lady Vols (first), LSU (third) and Auburn (fourth) rank at the top of the league in the all-time standings. In all, Georgia had several impressive wins this season, boasting six victories against RPI top-50 teams.
Close Games Not A Problem
Georgia touted a league-best 7-1 record in games decided by five points or less, including an impressive 5-1 mark against SEC opponents, with the only loss coming in a 66-63 road defeat at South Carolina.
Georgia hosted several thrillers at Stegeman Coliseum, using a buzzer-beater by freshman Stephanie Paul to take down Vanderbilt, before a double-overtime, back-and-forth game against Tennessee on Feb. 5 an overtime win against LSU on Feb. 19 and an overtime victory vs. Alabama on Feb. 23.
Tennessee Win The First Since 2010
The Georgia vs. Tennessee rivalry is seen by many as the best in SEC women’s basketball. The Feb. 5th meeting will go down as one of the most intense between the two programs, with the Lady Bulldogs taking an 81-78 win in double overtime. The victory marked Georgia’s first against the Lady Vols since 2010, breaking a streak of 10-straight losses.
Roberts Named All-SEC
Senior Pachis Roberts finished as Georgia’s leading scorer and rebounder this season on her way to earning second-team All-Southeastern Conference honors.
It was a remarkable accomplishment for Roberts, who came into the 2016-17 campaign averaging just 5.0 points per game in her first three seasons combined. Roberts upped that by nearly 10 points in her senior season and led the team with 25 double-figure scoring games.
Robinson Makes Strides, Places On All-Defensive Team
A year after earning SEC All-Freshman Team accolades, Lady Bulldog sophomore Caliya Robinson placed on the SEC All-Defensive Team in 2017. Robinson finished third in the league in blocked shots with 69 total, averaging 2.4 per game.
Earlier in the year, Robinson became the first Lady Bulldog since Kedra Holland-Corn in 1997 to earn ESPNW National Player of the Week. Robinson won the honor after averaging 24.5 points and 7.5 rebounds while shooting 71 percent from the floor combined against Arkansas and Tennessee.
Putting Her Name Among Georgia Greats
With her 24-point, 11-rebound effort against Samford on Dec. 22, Caliya Robinson became just the fourth Lady Bulldog since 2000 to record three or more 20-point, 10 rebound games in their careers, joining an elite group of former Lady Dogs — Tasha Humphrey, Christi Thomas, and Kara Braxton.
Robinson also became the first Lady Bulldog since Tasha Humphrey in 2008 to score 30 points in a single game. Robinson had a career day against Minnesota on Nov. 24, scoring 30 points off a 14-for-27 shooting performance.
Taylor Takes First SEC Tournament Win
A year after leading Georgia to the NCAA Tournament in her first season as head coach, Joni Taylor picked up her first postseason victory at the helm of the program when Georgia took down Auburn in the SEC Tournament. Taylor also guided the Lady Bulldogs to their first victory against Tennessee since 2010 and has now defeated six ranked opponents in the span of two seasons.
Top-10 Class On Its Way
The Lady Bulldogs will welcome four top-100 players at the start of the 2017-18 season, giving Georgia a new look heading into next year. Que Morrison, Gabby Connally, Malury Bates and Maya Caldwell all are elite players who rank top-15 nationally at their positions.