The No. 17-ranked University of Georgia Lady Bulldog basketball team came up short in their final home game of the season, falling to No. 19 Kentucky 62-58 Thursday night in Stegeman Coliseum.
Georgia is now 17-5 on the season overall and 9-5 in SEC play.
Senior center Jenna Staiti led the team in scoring with 16 points. Gabby Connally and Que Morrison ended the night with 13 points a piece. Jordan Isaacs had 10 points and grabbed nine rebounds.
Kentucky junior Rhyne Howard scored a game-high 27 points to lead all scorers.
“I think it’s the same thing we’ve done all year long. This isn’t our first loss,” head coach Joni Taylor said. “So, I think we’re going to talk about it tomorrow. We’re going to learn from it, grow from it, and move on. I say all the time, we’re coming down to the end of our SEC schedule, but you’ve got to have a short memory when you have to prepare for the next game in this league because if you walk into Sunday still thinking about tonight, then you’re 10 points behind, well you’re on the road so you’re 20 points behind. I think Jenna said it best. We’re a mature team. We’ve lost a game and bounced back before. I fully expect that they’ll learn from this and show up tomorrow the right way. And we’ve got to prepare for a Florida team that’s ready to go. They’re really talented. They’re playing well right now, and it’s probably going to be their senior night. We’ve got to get ready for the next game.”
In the opening seconds of the game, Jenna Staiti put the Lady Bulldogs on the scoreboard first with a shot from beneath the basket. Georgia kept a narrow 16-15 lead at the end of the first quarter. Connally had seven of the team’s 16 points in that frame.
The Lady Bulldogs went three minutes without a field goal in the second quarter. At the 6:53 mark, Sarah Ashlee Barker gave Georgia life with a long shot from beyond the arc. Mikayla Coombs had a quick steal and broke away for a layup putting the Lady Bulldogs up by five. Midway through, Georgia took a big blow as Kentucky responded with a fierce 11-0 run in under two minutes.
The Wildcats extended their lead to double digits on a 3-pointer knocked down by Chasity Patterson at the buzzer. Kentucky outscored Georgia 19-8 in the second quarter. The Lady Bulldogs trailed 34-24 at halftime.
In the first five minutes of the second half, Georgia scored 10 points to cut into Kentucky’s lead. Morrison scored nine points in the third quarter to help the Lady Bulldogs get within four points of the Wildcats. With 1:43 remaining in the third, Georgia saw that four-point deficit balloon to 10. The Lady Bulldogs trailed 51-44 going into the final period.
Both teams struggled finding an offensive rhythm in the fourth quarter – shooting below 40% from the field. With 6:57 remaining, Connally sank a 3-pointer to make it a one possession game. Kentucky’s Rhyne Howard scored eight points in three minutes to edge out Georgia into that final stretch. Jordan Isaacs knocked down three straight free throws to make it a two-point game with 5 seconds remaining, but the Lady Bulldogs weren’t able to come from behind.
Next up, Georgia travels to Gainesville, Fla., to take on the Florida Gators for their final regular season game on Sunday afternoon. Tipoff is set for 12 pm ET on ESPN2.