ATHENS, Ga. – A stifling defense by the Georgia women’s basketball team held the North Florida Ospreys to the lowest point production of a Georgia opponent this season in the 75-37 victory at Stegeman Coliseum on Thursday afternoon.
Georgia improved to 12-1 on the season, matching its best start in the Joni Taylor era, which came in her first year in 2015-16. The Lady Bulldogs are now 31-8 in non-conference play during Taylor’s tenure.
Eleven Lady Bulldogs delivered on offense, led by a team-leading 15 points from freshman guard Maya Caldwell. She did most of her damage from behind the arc with a 4-for-5 clip from 3-point range, which set a new career high.
Junior forward Caliya Robinson followed with her ninth double-digit scoring outing of the year (13), fueled by nine in the first frame.
“I’m proud of the way the team came out,” Taylor said. “We had two good practices off of the Christmas break which isn’t common coming of Christmas. They practiced well the two days leading in to today. They had their focus, and I was really happy that we were able to give a lot of our players extended minutes.”
Georgia erased an early 4-2 North Florida lead with a 19-2 first-quarter run. Powered by nine Robinson points, the Lady Bulldogs’ 21-6 advantage marked Georgia’s largest point differential at the end of a first frame this season.
Within the first quarter run, the Lady Bulldogs scored 10 unanswered points, holding the Ospreys without a point for 4:29. Robinson supplied a jumper and a 3-pointer before the junior teamed up with redshirt sophomore Taja Cole to piece together back-to-back steals that resulted in three Cole points.
After a jumper from senior Haley Clark, sophomore Stephanie Paul dished a pass to Robinson at the basket for a layup, followed by a 3-pointer from senior Simone Costa. A crafty pass from freshman Gabby Connally, who recorded a career-high seven assists, to Paul for a layup secured the first quarter margin at the buzzer.
The balanced attack continued in the second quarter, jumpstarted by consecutive 3-pointers from Connolly and senior Mackenzie Engram. The Lady Bulldogs contained the Ospreys’ offense in the final 5:07 of the half with eight uncontested Georgia points, highlighted by Robinson, Clark and a pair of free throws from Cole.
The Georgia defense allowed the lowest point production of a Lady Bulldog opponent in a half this season with the Ospreys’ 10. North Florida’s four points in the second quarter also matched the lowest point-total in a quarter.
In the second half, the Lady Bulldogs remained in command with three early buckets from Engram. Caldwell joined the attack with a pair of threes in each final quarter, and freshman Malury Bates added a pair of jumpers to make the score 73-34. Sophomore Ari Henderson capped Georgia’s fifth-straight win with a bucket in the final minute, marking the 12th Lady Bulldog to log minutes in the game for the fourth time this season.
CLICK HERE for the full box score from the Georgia women’s basketball team’s win over North Florida.
Up next, Georgia begins conference play on New Year’s Eve against the fifth-ranked Mississippi State at 6 p.m. in Stegeman Coliseum. The game wil be aired on SEC Network.