Behind 20 points and 14 rebounds from junior center Jenna Staiti, the Georgia Lady Bulldog basketball team defeated Alabama, 68-61, Thursday afternoon in the SEC tournament second round at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena.
Staiti scored 20 points or more for the fourth-straight game and hit double figures in scoring for the eighth-straight contest. In addition to Staiti, Gabby Connally added 16 points, while Maya Caldwell scored 10.
Georgia improves to 17-13 overall and has eight wins against conference foes this season. Alabama had won six of its last eight games coming into the tournament. The Crimson Tide falls to 18-12 this season.
The Lady Bulldogs play No. 1 seed, South Carolina, at noon ET Friday in the quarterfinals.
“I tip my hat to Alabama. They have been playing really great basketball and we knew it was going to take a great effort to beat them today,” head coach Joni Taylor said. “For us, everyone who came in the game contributed. We did a great job of locking in and following the scouting report. We told our team that effort was going to win the game today, and I am so proud of what we were able to do.”
Six points from Connally in the first five minutes helped the Lady Bulldogs build an early 10-7 lead. After extending the advantage to 14-10, the Lady Bulldogs went over four minutes without a basket.
Alabama then went on a 6-0 run to end the opening stanza and led 16-14.
The Lady Bulldogs finished the first half with 12 made field goals off 11 assists, while Alabama missed its last four shots and a had a buzzer-beater waved off. Georgia held on to a slim 33-30 lead at the break.
Staiti went to work to start the second half, knocking in her team’s first two baskets. A break-away layup from Caldwell gave Georgia its biggest lead of the game to that point — 39-32 — with 7:02 left in the third quarter.
The Lady Bulldogs led by as many as 11 in the third, but Alabama was able to cut into the deficit with the score at 53-46 in Georgia’s favor going into the fourth.
Georgia clamped down on the defensive end and held the Crimson Tide scoreless