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Georgia center Jenna Staiti (14) attempts a shot. The Georgia women’s basketball team played North Carolina A&T State University on Nov. 13, 2019 in Athens, Georgia. The final score was 72-54. (Photo/Julian Alexander, jalexander@randb.com)

The Georgia women’s basketball team will move on to the third round of the SEC Tournament after defeating Alabama 68-61 on Thursday afternoon at Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville, South Carolina.

It was the Bulldogs’ second win of the season against the Crimson Tide. Georgia has now won five of the last six contests between the two programs.

“I tip my hat to Alabama. They have been playing really great basketball and we knew it was going to take a great effort to beat them today,” head coach Joni Taylor said. “For us, everyone who came in the game contributed. We did a great job of locking in and following the scouting report. We told our team that effort was going to win the game today, and I am so proud of what we were able to do.”

Junior center Jenna Staiti continued to illustrate her dominance on both ends of the court. She hit double figures with 20 points and 14 rebounds. She also added seven blocks to end the day. In addition to Staiti, Gabby Connally collected 16 points, while Maya Caldwell scored 10.

The Bulldogs had a solid first half, finishing with 12 made field goals off 11 assists. Alabama struggled in the final minutes before halftime, missing its last four shots and having a buzzer-beater waved off. Georgia had a respectable 33-30 lead at the break.

Staiti took off to start the second half, putting in her team’s first two baskets. Georgia’s biggest lead of the game came off a breakaway layup from Caldwell that put the Bulldogs up 39-32 halfway through the third quarter.

Georgia led by as many as 11 points in the third, but Alabama was able to cut into the deficit and only trailed by seven going into the final period.

The Bulldogs locked down on the defensive end of the floor and held the Crimson Tide scoreless for over four minutes to begin the fourth, holding on to make it the quarterfinals against No. 1 South Carolina. Georgia is set to tip-off at noon against the Gamecocks on Friday.

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