Lady Bulldogs fall to No. 1 South Carolina

ATHENS, Ga. (UGA SPORTS) – The Lady Bulldogs struggled to slow South Carolina, the top-ranked team in the country, on Thursday evening, falling 58-35 in Stegeman Coliseum.

With the loss, No. 22 Georgia sees its perfect 12-0 record at home this season and its 18-game home winning streak dating back to last January come to an end.

Freshmen Mackenzie Engram and Haley Clark led Georgia (17-6, 5-5 SEC) in scoring with eight points apiece. Erika Ford led the team in rebounds with six.

“I thought defensively we were reasonably good,” head coach Andy Landers said. “Our inability to execute offensively, our misses at the free throw line and a combination of other things, really hurt us in the first half.”

Bianca Cuevas paced the Gamecocks (22-0, 10-0 SEC) with 16 points, while Aleighsa Welch recorded a team-high 14 rebounds.

“The X-factor, and believe it or not that’s the way I had it on the board, was (Cuevas),” Landers said. “Watching tape in preparation for the game, she’s gotten better and better in each game and has made really good strides. I told the kids before the game that she’s no joke. And I thought she came in and played really well.”

South Carolina won the rebounding battle, grabbing 50 boards compared to Georgia’s 38, but it was the Gamecocks’ shooting that gave them the advantage. The Gamecocks shot 39 percent from the field and 38 percent from behind the arc, while the Lady Bulldogs managed only 21 and 11 percent in those respective categories. South Carolina also earned 33 points from the bench, almost half of those coming from Cuevas.

Georgia bested the Gamecocks in points-off-turnovers, 18-10, and shot 60 percent from the line compared to their 44 percent.

Georgia kept pace with the Gamecocks out of the gate thanks to score-tying baskets from Tiaria Griffin and Engram. Griffin ended a six-minute scoring drought for the Lady Bulldogs with a 3-pointer at the 12:49 mark to tie the score at five a piece. A minute later, Georgia used a Griffin steal and jumper from Engram to match the Gamecocks at 7-all.

The Lady Bulldogs struggled to find the net for the remainder of the period, shooting only 17.9 percent to the Gamecocks’ 43.3 percent from the field. South Carolina outscored the Lady Bulldogs 21-7 in the final 10 minutes of the half and held a 16-point advantage at the break.

Griffin opened the second stanza for Georgia with a quick layup, followed by a jumper from Merritt Hempe. Clark added another basket and two points from the charity stripe, but Georgia continued to struggle in its offensive output.

Engram highlighted the period at the 10:31 mark with a long 3-pointer after her own defensive rebound. Pachis Roberts also added three points from the line, but Georgia could not contain the Gamecocks who tallied 38 points in the second half.

“We will get back to the drawing board and get ready to play Arkansas at Arkansas,” Landers said. “And as we’ve said repeatedly this year, nothing is easy on the road.”

The Lady Bulldogs will travel to Arkansas on Monday for a 7 p.m. matchup with the Razorbacks. The game will be broadcast nationally on the SEC Network. Georgia will return home to host Florida at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 12.

Single-game reserved seat tickets for Lady Bulldog games are $5 for adults and $3 for children. UGA students, faculty and staff are admitted to all Lady Bulldog games free of charge with a valid UGA Card. Faculty and staff should pick up tickets at the Coliseum box office. Students are admitted to the arena via the entrance to the left of the box office by showing their UGA Card.

Single-game tickets are on sale via georgiadogs.com, by calling 877-542-1231 or in person at the UGA Ticket Office in the Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall from 8:30-4:30 on weekdays. In addition, single-game tickets go on sale at the Stegeman Coliseum box office (closest to Sanford Drive) beginning 60 minutes before tip-off of every home game.

Categories: Across Georgia Sports, Sports

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