The Georgia Lady Bulldog basketball team, behind a double-double from redshirt-junior Jenna Staiti, powered past the Florida Gators, 65-59, in their final regular-season game on Sunday afternoon in Stegeman Coliseum.
Staiti continues to pace the Lady Bulldogs. She recorded her fifth double-double of the season and the sixth of her career with 20 points and 12 rebounds. This is the seventh-straight game and the eighth in the last nine games that Staiti ended in double figures. Junior Gabby Connally joined Staiti in double digits, tallying 13 points.
Based on Sunday’s results, Georgia has earned the No. 9 seed in the SEC Tournament and will return to action this Thursday, March 5th, at 12 p.m. in Greenville, S.C. against the Alabama Crimson Tide.
“They are what you want Georgia basketball to be,” Georgia Head Coach Joni Taylor said. “They represent us to the highest level—on the floor, off the floor. Steph [Paul] has sacrificed her body the last two years for this team, for this program. They are both truth tellers. They are no nonsense, fun-loving players who keep it real and keep us all grounded. This is what you want everybody to be, so I certainly hope that our younger players learn from their example. Ari [Henderson] is someone who has taken the opportunity to wear that jersey and taken it to the fullest. She’s in the gym getting up extra shots. She’s a coach on the bench to our other players. She represents us well again academically and in the community. I am so proud of them. I am so happy for them. Obviously, this win today was for them.”
Staiti accounted for eight of Georgia’s 10 first-quarter points. The Lady Bulldogs entered the second frame trailing 17-10.
The Lady Bulldogs held the Gators scoreless for roughly the first four minutes of the second quarter while going on a 7-0 run to knot the game at 17-all.
Georgia forced another scoring drought for Florida, lasting 4:39, in the closing minutes of the first half. That drought, combined with another 7-0 Georgia run, sent the Lady Bulldogs into the locker room sporting the 27-23.
Georgia was unable to score for 2:08, allowing Florida to go on an 8-0 run to regain the lead, 34-30, roughly halfway through the third period.
The Gators extended their lead to eight before a shot from behind the arc from junior Maya Caldwell kickstarted Georgia on the offensive end. An and-one from Connally followed by a layup from Staiti brought the Lady Bulldogs within three (41-28) with 2:31 remaining in the third quarter. Georgia entered the final 10 minutes trailing 45-38.
In the first minute of the final frame, sophomore Caitlin Hose drained a 3-pointer to bring Georgia within four. Another three-point shot, this time from sophomore Shaniya Jones, cut the Lady Bulldogs’ deficit to two.
A layup from sophomore Kaila Hubbard, followed by one shot at the line from Staiti was part of an 8-0 Georgia run to regain the one-point advantage, 49-48.
The Lady Bulldogs continued their run, a basket from Staiti capping the 14-0 scoring stretch that would ultimately solidify the Georgia victory. Free throws down the stretch iced the win for the Lady Bulldogs, 65-59.