Georgia guard Gabby Connally (2) looks out overt the court during a women’s basketball game against the University of Missouri on Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020 at Stegeman Coliseum in Athens, Georgia. The Tigers defeated the Bulldogs 73-65. (Photo/Julian Alexander, jalexander@randb.com)

The Georgia women’s basketball team currently sits with a 13-11 overall record heading into its matchup on Feb. 16 against Alabama. With five games remaining in the 2019-20 regular season, here are three takeaways from The Red & Black: 

50-game start streak ended

Gabby Connally didn’t start for the first time in 50 games on Feb. 6 against Missouri because of an injury she suffered three days prior against No. 8 Mississippi State. Connally’s leadership was missed against Missouri, which outscored Georgia 25-16 in the fourth quarter to take the 73-65 victory.

Connally returned to action in the following game, registering eight points while playing a season-high 40 minutes in a 49-43 win over Florida on Feb. 9. The win snapped a four-game losing streak for the Bulldogs.

Entering her junior season, Connally was selected to the preseason All-SEC second team and has led the Bulldogs in scoring 11 times.

She was named the SEC Player of the Week on Dec. 3 after Georgia’s victories over Butler and Virginia Tech. Connally averaged 18.5 points, shot 54.5% from the field and 50% from the 3-point line in those wins.

Connally is an integral part of Georgia women’s basketball’s offense. She has recorded three 20-point games and has scored in double figures in 20 of her last 27 games dating back to last season.

Struggles against top teams

Georgia has the NCAA’s 12th-toughest schedule, according to the latest NCAA Rating Percentage Index release. Georgia has played seven teams ranked in the top 25, but it only defeated one — No. 25 Arkansas. The Bulldogs had arguably their best defensive performance against Arkansas, as they held the Razorbacks under their season average of 9.9 3-pointers per game to finish just 3-for-12. On Dec. 4, Georgia lost to then-No. 6 Baylor by a score of 72-38.

The Bulldogs saw overall improvement against No. 10 UCLA nearly two weeks later but still lost by nine points. Georgia started SEC play on Jan. 2 with a 58-51 win over Ole Miss, but Georgia has since played five ranked SEC teams and dropped to a 4-7 record in the conference.

Georgia came up short against No. 1 South Carolina, No. 16 Texas A&M, No. 23 Tennessee and twice to No. 8 Mississippi State. The Bulldogs found themselves down early in these games. No game was closer than the one against Texas A&M, which the Bulldogs lost by one point. The Bulldogs’ five remaining games include matchups with No. 15 Kentucky and a rematch against Texas A&M.

Help on the way

The Bulldogs are 13-11 overall and 4-7 in the SEC, but new recruits will come next season. Sarah Ashlee Barker and Zoesha Smith are verbally committed to join the Bulldogs as freshmen next year. Barker is a four-star recruit and is ranked among the top 25 guards nationally, per espnW. By the same metric, Smith is the No. 23 forward in the 2020 class.

Barker led Spain Park High School to the 2018 Class 7A Alabama state title. She averaged 14 points, 9.1 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game and is the highest-ranked recruit in the state of Alabama.

Smith comes from Brunswick, Georgia. Standing at 6-foot-1, she averaged a double-double in her senior year, with 20.5 points and 12.4 rebounds per game. Smith also earned her place on the Georgia AthleticCoaches Association All-State team, the USA Today All-USA Georgia Girls Second Team and earned an MVP honor at the GACA Junior All-Star game.


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