WOMEN’S BASKETBALL – Georgia vs. Mercer – Dawgs Overcome Slow Start, 57-44

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WOMEN’S BASKETBALL – Georgia vs. Mercer – Dawgs Overcome Slow Start, 57-44

Georgia forward Caliya Robinson (4) drives towards the net during the Lady Bulldogs’ game with the Mercer Bears at the Stegeman Coliseum on Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015 in Athens, Ga. (Photo by Sean Taylor)
[su_spacer size=”20″] The Georgia Lady Bulldogs basketball team (6-1) overcame a slow start shooting in the first quarter and a halftime deficit en route to a 57-44 win over the Mercer Bears (4-3) in a Wednesday night showdown at Stegeman Coliseum.
[su_spacer size=”40″] Seniors Merritt Hemp and Tiaria Griffin carried the load offensively for the Lady Bulldogs, totaling 36 points between them (19 for Griffin, 17 for Hemp). The duo shot a combined 14-for-25 from the floor in the contest. Griffin, who tied her career high with five 3’s in the game and now stands sixth in Georgia history for career treys, stands just 10 points shy of becoming Georgia’s 36th 1,000-point scorer in program history. Hempe, who pulled in 10 rebounds, recorded her third double-double of the season and fifth of her career.
[su_spacer size=”40″] “We’ve always said if we don’t score in transition we struggle at times,” said head coach Joni Taylor. “We played right into Mercer’s hands in the first and second quarters. Their zone, we got stagnant, pass and stand and pass and stand and pass and stand some more… The message at halftime was you have to set the pace, you’ve got to control tempo. I think in the third quarter we were able to get out, run, get some easy buckets in transition and set our defense a little bit better.”
[su_spacer size=”40″] Hempe and Griffin carried the team early, combining to score the first 13 points for the Lady Bulldogs. A defensive struggle from the start, the teams combined to shoot 8-for-28 from the field in the first quarter as Mercer held a 10-9 edge at the end of the first.
[su_spacer size=”40″] It was Griffin and Hempe who carried the Lady Bulldogs once again in the second, finishing the half with all but five points for the home squad. As a pair they finished with 21 first-half points, with Hempe notching 11 and Griffin with 10. Marjorie Butler was the first player besides the team’s dynamic scoring duo to hit the scoreboard with a running jumper on a fast break, and Amber Skidgel nailed a trey shortly after. Still, the Bulldogs trailed 27-26 at the intermission after going 10-for-29 from the field as a team in the first half.
[su_spacer size=”40″] Georgia got off to a quick start after the break, using a 14-2 run to get a double-digit lead halfway through the third. The Lady Bulldogs maintained a comfortable cushion for the rest of the way, never allowing their lead to drop below seven through the end of the third. Tempe and Griffin totaled 15 points in the frame out of the 22 Georgia poured in.
[su_spacer size=”40″] Georgia put more scoring depth on display in the game’s final quarter, and the Lady Bulldogs finished with a total of seven Lady Bulldogs tickling the twine. The remained tight defensively, limiting Mercer to just 44 points for the game and a double-digit win.
[su_spacer size=”40″] The Lady Bulldogs are back in action Thursday night at 7 p.m. against Kennesaw State.
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Greg is closing in on 15 years writing about and photographing UGA sports. While often wrong and/or out of focus, it has been a long, strange trip full of fun and new friends.