WBB: UGA Opens at Mercer Tonight

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WBB: UGA Opens at Mercer Tonight

Que Morrison
Que Morrison

Georgia Lady Bulldogs (0-0) vs. Mercer Bears (0-0)

Wednesday, Nov. 25 | 6 p.m. ET | Hawkins Arena (3,200) | Macon, Ga.

Watch: ESPN + (Avery Braxton (play-by-play)/Sybil Black (analyst)

Listen: Georgia Bulldog Sports Network (Jeff Dantzler)

*WXKT 103.7 FM in Athens or via the Georgia Bulldogs App

Opening Tip Storylines

• Georgia begins the 2020-21 season with a trip to Mercer this Wednesday. It marks the 11th-straight year these two programs have met. 

• Wednesday’s contest will air on ESPN+.  Jeff Dantzler — the Voice of the Lady Bulldogs — will call the action for the Georgia Bulldog Sports Network. Fans in Athens can listen to the game on WXKT 103.7 FM or via the Georgia Bulldogs App. 

• Georgia has won 24-straight meetings against Mercer, with the Bears’ last win in the series coming on Feb. 13, 1980. The Lady Bulldogs own a 26-12 lead in the all-time series. 

• Mercer is coached by former Lady Bulldog Susie Gardner, who played at Georgia from 1983-86. Gardner competed on three SEC championship teams and helped lead Georgia to the 1983 NCAA Final Four and to a NCAA runner-up finish in 1985. 

• Georgia is 38-9 in season-opening games overall and has won 14-straight openers dating back to the 2005-06 season (L, 84-72 to No. 6 Baylor). 

• This year’s Georgia team returns four seniors off last year’s squad. Each of the Lady Bulldogs’ seniors earned their degrees from UGA this past May and all are currently pursuing master’s degrees at Georgia. 

• The Lady Bulldogs return nearly 90 percent of their scoring and rebounding from last year’s team. Georgia lost only one starter (Stephanie Paul) and returns its top four scorers from the 2019-20 squad. 

• Senior guard Gabby Connally led Georgia in scoring with 12.6 ppg last season. She has started 60 games over the past two years, missing only one contest due to injury. Connally enters the 2020-21 season needing just 16 points to reach 1,000 in her career. 

• Fifth-year senior Jenna Staiti was one of the most improved players in the SEC a season ago. She finished the year on an impressive  pace, scoring in double figures in nine-straight games, averaging 19.4 points and 9.4 boards per game over that span. 

• Georgia welcomes three eligible newcomers to the roster. UConn transfer Mikayla Coombs will see her first action in the red and black after sitting out last season. The Lady Bulldogs also add a pair of freshmen — Sarah Ashlee Barker (Birmingham, Ala.) and Zoesha Smith (Brunswick, Ga.). 

• The Lady Bulldogs enter the 2020-21 campaign needing just three wins to reach the 1,000-victory mark. Georgia would become one of just two SEC programs (joining Tennessee) and one of just 16 teams nationwide to accomplish that feat. 

Series Information

Overall: Georgia leads, 26-12

In Athens: Georgia leads, 16-5

In Macon: Georgia leads, 10-5

Neutral Sites: Mercer leads, 2-0

Current Streak: Georgia has won the last 24 meetings dating back to 1980

Last Meeting: Georgia won 76-60 (Nov. 21, 2019)

Largest Margin of Victory: 57 points, Georgia won 102-45 (Dec. 17, 2007)

Largest Defeat: 37 points, Mercer won 90-53 (Feb. 21, 1975)

Game Notes

Georgia Returns Experienced Team

The Lady Bulldogs will have more experience on their roster this year compared to the previous two seasons. In 2018-19, Georgia had the youngest team in the SEC, while last year it had to replace its top two scorers.  In 2020, the Lady Bulldogs return over 90 percent of their scoring and 88 percent of their rebounding as well as 10 total letterwinners. 

A Closer Look at Staiti’s Last Nine Games

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. She also posted three double-doubles and five 20-plus point efforts. Staiti’s game-by-game breakdown of the last nine games is available on page 5 of the game notes. 

Staiti Steady at the Stripe

What might have gone unnoticed in her final stretch last season was Staiti’s performance at the free-throw line.  She finished the year hitting 89 percent (73-of-82) from the stripe — good for the second-best single season average in Georgia history. 

Connally, Staiti Approaching Career Top-10

Georgia seniors Gabby Connally and Jenna Staiti are approaching the top-10 of a few Lady Bulldog career categories.  Connally is just 10 made 3-pointers away from reaching the career top-10. She has totaled 134 made shots from behind the arc in three seasons. With 118 blocks, Staiti needs four more to move into the top-10 at UGA for career blocked shots. 

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

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. 

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. 

Morrison Back After Season-Ending Injury

Senior Que Morrison was finally back to her freshman form before her injury last season against Texas A&M. She had successful surgery on Tuesday, Feb. 25 to repair a torn labrum in her right shoulder, bringing her junior campaign to an end.

This summer, Morrison has been busy rehabbing her injury. She spent a few months in quarantine working on her rehab back home in Riverdale, Ga. 

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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