WBB Preview: Georgia vs. Appalachian State

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WBB Preview: Georgia vs. Appalachian State

Jenna Staiti 
(Photo: Georgia Sports Communications)
Jenna Staiti
(Photo: Georgia Sports Communications)

Georgia Lady Bulldogs (7-0) vs. Appalachian State Mountaineers (3-2)

Tuesday, Dec. 22 | noon ET | Stegeman Coliseum (1,638) | Athens, Ga.

Watch: SEC Network + – Matt Stewart (play-by-play)/Christy Thomaskutty (analyst)

Watch LinkClick Here

Listen: Georgia Bulldogs Sports Network (Jeff Dantzler)

*960 AM The REF, WXKT 103.7 FM in Athens or via the Georgia Bulldogs App

Opening Tip Storylines

• Georgia hosts Appalachian State in its final tune-up before SEC play begins on Dec. 31. The Lady Bulldogs and Mountaineers tip off at noon ET. 

• Tuesday’s contest is part of a doubleheader with the men’s basketball team, which hosts Northeastern at 7 p.m. Georgia’s two basketball programs are a combined 13-0 to start the 2020-21 season. 

• The Lady Bulldogs are off to their best start in four seasons and are looking to go 8-0 for the first time since the 2014-15 campaign. 

• Georgia last finished the non-conference slate undefeated  when the 2009-10 squad began the year 16-0 on its way to a NCAA Sweet 16 berth. The Lady Bulldogs have finished unbeaten in non-conference action four times in their history (1989, 1994, 1998 and 2009).

• Tuesday’s contest is Georgia’s Tacky Sweater Game, with fans encouraged to wear their tackiest Christmas sweaters. 

• Georgia has won 12 of its last 15 games dating back to last season. The Lady Bulldogs’ three losses in this stretch are to top-15 teams South Carolina, Texas A&M and Kentucky. 

• The Lady Bulldogs have stepped it up offensively, scoring 80 points or more three times. Georgia has also upped its points per game average by 11 points from 66.0 to 77.0 compared to the first seven games last year. 

• Georgia has also lived up to its ‘Defense Travels’ mantra. The Lady Bulldogs have held six of seven opponents below 40-percent shooting from the field, while keeping teams to 57 points per game on average. Georgia has held three opponents below 30 percent shooting. 

• Senior center Jenna Staiti has scored in double figures in 15 of the last 16 games. She finished with 15 points and six boards in the team’s most recent outing against Furman. 

• Georgia has shown off its deep roster in 2020. A total of 11 Lady Bulldogs scored at least one field goal last Thursday against Georgia State, before 12 players saw action against Furman on Sunday. 

• The Lady Bulldogs added a pair of players to their rotation last week. Sophomore guard Chloe Chapman is back after resting due to soccer season and Rutgers transfer Maori Davenport is immediately eligible following the NCAA transfer ruling on Dec. 16.  

Scouting Appalachian State

The Mountaineers are 3-2 this season and are coming off a win against East Tennessee State. App State returned nine letterwinners off last year’s team that went 11-19 overall and finished eighth in the Sun Belt Conference standings. Among the returners is this season’s leading scorer Pre Stanley, who averages 20.8 points per game. Angel Elderkin is in her seventh season as the head coach of the Mountaineers. 

Series History

Tuesday’s contest marks the first meeting between these two programs since 2011, when Georgia downed Appalachian State, 81-37, on the same December date — Dec. 22. The Lady Bulldogs own a 3-0 record against the Mountaineers. 

Series Breakdown

Overall: Georgia leads, 3-0

In Athens: Georgia leads, 1-0

In Boone: Never Met

Neutral Sites: Georgia leads, 2-0

Current Streak: Georgia has won all three meetings

Last Meeting: Georgia won, 81-37 (12/22/11) in Athens

Largest Margin of Victory: 62 points, Georgia won 94-32 (12/31/82) in Miami

Largest Defeat: NA

Game Notes

Knocking in Free-Throws … Near Perfect At The Top

Georgia’s top three scorers — Jenna Staiti, Gabby Connally and Que Morrison — have combined to hit 43-of-44 shots at the free-throw line this season. As a team, Georgia is second in the SEC (behind Alabama) in free-throw percentage, knocking in a collective 75.7 percent from the stripe. 

Block Party For The Dawgs

The Lady Bulldogs lead the Southeastern Conference in blocks, totaling 48 this season for a 6.9 per game average. Staiti leads the SEC in both total blocks (20) and blocks per game (2.9). 

Offensive Improvement

The Lady Bulldogs are a much improved team on the offensive end compared to last season. Georgia is averaging 77.0 points per game in 2020 after scoring just 63.2 points per game last year. The team has scored over 80 points three times through the first seven games. Last season, the Lady Bulldogs scored 80 or more points twice in 31 contests.

Barker Named SEC Freshman of the Week

Sarah Ashlee Barker was named the league’s Freshman of the Week following performances against East Carolina and Oklahoma. Barker continues to play valuable minutes and has made several key plays for the Lady Bulldogs this season. 

With 2:19 left in the overtime period against Georgia Tech, Barker broke open a tie game with a made jump shot to put her team up 65-63. The Lady Bulldogs did not give up the lead the rest of the way en route to a 75-69 win. Barker then hit a 3-pointer in the fourth quarter against Oklahoma, giving Georgia its largest lead of the game at 14. 

Georgia Reaches 1,000-Win Milestone

With its win against East Carolina on Dec. 3, Georgia became one of just two SEC programs (Tennessee) and one of 16 nationwide to reach the 1,000-win mark. The team commemorated the milestone with a special social media video narrated by Andy Landers and Joni Taylor. 

Taylor, Connally Reach Important Marks Against Tech

Georgia defeated Georgia Tech this year to improve the Lady Bulldogs’ record to 36-7 against the Yellow Jackets. The win also marked the 100th of Coach Taylor’s career. Senior guard Gabby Connally reached the 1,000-point mark with a first-half basket against Tech. 

Best Shooting Effort Since 2009

Georgia’s offense got off to a good start against Mercer. The Lady Bulldogs finished the game hitting 32-of-53 shots (60.4 percent), marking the team’s best single-game shooting percentage since March 5, 2009 against Kentucky (63.4 percent) — a span of 11 seasons. 

The Lady Bulldogs knocked in 8-of-10 (80 percent) field goals in the fourth quarter against the Bears. Eight of the 11 Lady Bulldogs who played hit 50 percent or better from the field. 

Staiti’s Streak 

Jenna Staiti had one of the best late season stretches of any player in the SEC last season, averaging 19.4 points and 9.4 rebounds per game over the last nine contests. That trend has continued into the 2020-21 campaign. She has now scored in double figures in 15 of her last 16 games and has six double-doubles in that span. 

Staiti Among Georgia’s All-time Best Shot blockers

With 138 blocks , Staiti has moved past Anne-Marie Armstrong for 10th place on Georgia’s career blocked shots chart. She needs just three more to tie Porsha Phillips in ninth place with 141 blocks. Tawana McDonald owns the UGA career record with 297 in her career. 

Staiti Steady at the Stripe

Jenna Staiti filled up the stat sheet with double-figure scoring efforts and double-doubles in her last nine games of the 2019-20 season. What might have gone unnoticed was Staiti’s performance at the free-throw line.  Staiti finished the year hitting 89 percent from the stripe — good for the second-best single season average in Georgia history. 

Connally Approaching Career Top-10

Georgia senior Gabby Connally needs just one 3-pointer to move into a 10th-place tie with Ashley Houts for the most career 3-pt. FGs made in Georgia history with 145. 

Building Off Strong Finish

Georgia finished the 2019-20 season  on a high note, winning four of its final six regular season games and five of eight overall. Among the big wins during the final stretch was a 73-56 road victory at LSU — a game in which the Lady Bulldogs led the entire way. Georgia also knocked off Alabama and Florida twice during the stretch-run of the season. 

Focus On Community

Georgia’s Joni Taylor has put a focus on community service during her six seasons as head coach. This past fall, Taylor and her team took action once again by hosting a Water Bottle Drive for the local Boys and Girls Club of Athens. The community stepped up in a big way, donating close to 150 water bottles. 

“We were absolutely blown away by the turnout,” Taylor said. “COVID-19 has affected all of our lives in so many ways. For the Boys and Girls Club, COVID protocols eliminated the use of water fountains, so the organization needed new, re-fillable water bottles. When our ladies found out about this, they immediately wanted to help. I could not be more proud of their efforts and the efforts of all those who came by today. It’s another step forward in making a meaningful impact in our community.”

Chapman Best in the State

Two-sport star Chloe Chapman was named the Atlanta Sports Awards State of Georgia College Athlete of the Year this past summer. Chapman, who also plays soccer at UGA, is just the 11th Bulldog student-athlete to earn the honor. She received over 50,000 votes during the seven-day voting period back in July. 

Chapman  placed on the 2019 SEC All-Freshman Team in soccer before earning a spot in the lineup on the basketball floor. 

Two-Sport Star in Rare Company

Chapman is one of only six Lady Bulldogs to play two sports while at UGA. Below is a list of these elite athletes. 

All-Time Lady Bulldog Two-Sport Athletes

Tina Price — 1975-78 — Women’s basketball/Tennis

Donna Noonan – 1975-77 – Women’s basketball/Golf

Beth Timmons – 2000 – Women’s basketball/Swimming

Maria Taylor – 2007 —  Women’s basketball/Volleyball

Stephanie Paul – 2019-20 – Women’s basketball/Track (discus)

Chloe Chapman – present – Women’s basketball/Soccer

Georgia Seniors Earn Degrees

Each of Georgia’s four seniors — Gabby Connally, Maya Caldwell, Que Morrison and Jenna Staiti — will wear the SEC graduate patch this season after earning their degrees.  The four Lady Bulldogs are all pursuing master’s degrees, with Connally focusing on public administration, Cadwell in non-profit management and leadership, and Morrison and Staiti in sport pedagogy. 

Georgia Led League in Honor Roll Selections

The Georgia Lady Bulldogs led all Southeastern Conference basketball teams (women or men) with nine players on the league’s Academic Honor Roll this past winter. 

Each winter, student-athletes from across the conference are recognized for having a 3.0 GPA or above for either the preceding academic year or a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or higher.

The following Lady Bulldogs reached the above criteria. Malury Bates (Human Development, Roanake, Va.), Maya Caldwell (Communication Studies, Charlotte, N.C.), Gabby Connally (Criminal Justice, San Antonio, Texas), Ari Henderson (Civil Engineering, Stone Mountain, Ga.), Caitlin Hose (Financial Planning, Hazel Green, Ala.), Kaila Hubbard (Psychology, Jonesboro, Ga.), Que Morrison (Communication Studies, Riverdale, Ga.), Stephanie Paul (Sport Management, Naples, Fla.) , Jenna Staiti (Human Development, Cumming, Ga.).

One of Peach State’s Best Joins 2021 Signing Class

Jillian Hollingshead, a 6-foot-5 forward from Powder Springs, Ga., added to an already impressive 2021 signing class for the Lady Bulldogs.  She was the fourth signee of Georgia’s class, joining fellow top-40 prospect Reigan Richardson (Huntersville, N.C.) as well as Alina Sendar (Amsterdam, Netherlands) and Kimora ‘Kimmie’ Jenkins (Long Island, N.Y.).

Hollingshead was ranked as the No. 5 forward in the nation according to espnW and was also ranked No. 22 in the ESPN HoopGurlz Terrific 25 for the 2021 class. 

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