Senior Tiaria Griffin filled up the scorebook with 24 points and eight rebounds, helping the Georgia Lady Bulldog basketball team (19-7, 7-6) to within five points in the waning minutes of the contest, but Georgia fell to No. 2 South Carolina (25-1, 13-0) by a 61-51 score on Thursday night at Colonial Life Arena.
Griffin and classmate Marjorie Butler, who had 12 points and five boards of her own, accounted for 36 of the Lady Dogs’ 51 points. Georgia struggled out of the gate on the offensive end with just 13 points at halftime, but behind the strong efforts from Griffin and Butler, the Lady Bulldogs were able to push the Gamecocks to the final buzzer.
“Tiaria was really good for us, especially in the first half when we were struggling to score,” said Georgia head coach Joni Taylor. “I told (the team) this should show you that we can play with anybody when we execute and we do what we’re supposed to do on both ends of the basketball court. We’ve got three games left (before postseason play), and we fully expect to finish them out in the right way.”
Neither team found an offensive rhythm in the opening frame, as the Lady Dogs and Gamecocks shot a combined 6-for-26 from the field in the first 10 minutes of play. Griffin carried the team offensively, though, claiming seven points on 3-of-6 from the field as Georgia trailed 10-9 after one quarter.
The visitors claimed their first lead of the day as Merritt Hempe drained a jumper out of the gate, but the Gamecocks responded with a 7-0 run that spanned more than six minutes before Shacobia Barbee ended the team’s drought with a bucket of her own. Those would be the only points of the second quarter for the Lady Dogs as they trailed 27-13 into the locker room.
Griffin scored the first five points of the second half for the Lady Dogs, and buckets from Hempe and Butler brought Georgia to within eight at 30-22. After South Carolina pushed the deficit to 12, Griffin scored five straight points to bring Georgia to within seven until the Gamecocks answered with a 9-0 run to hold a 43-27 lead after three.
A 12-5 run to open the fourth allowed Georgia to claw back to within single digits, and the deficit stuck at nine points into the media timeout with less than four minutes remaining. Four points after the break brought UGA to within five, but South Carolina kept the Lady Bulldogs at arms’ length for the rest of the game.
The Lady Dogs will next play host to Florida on Sunday at 1 p.m.