With head coach Joni Taylor back on the bench only two days after giving birth to her second child, Georgia earned its second victory over Arkansas this season on Thursday night 93-83 in a back-and-forth affair.
The team went to Arkansas and came away with an 80-72 win on Jan. 31 behind 21 points from Gabby Connally and a near triple-double from Taja Cole. This time it was Caliya Robinson who led the way with 21 points as the Lady Bulldogs picked up their seventh conference win.
“Caliya has started the last three games on fire,” associate head coach Karen Lange said. “When she starts like that, we’re hard to beat. She just propels us forward, and quickly.”
Georgia has reiterated in recent weeks the importance of every game remaining on its regular season schedule, but the team came out slowly, turning the ball over on its first two possessions of the game. Connally then picked the team up, scoring six of the first 10 Georgia points as the Lady Bulldogs rallied to take a 22-21 lead into the second period.
Georgia built some separation, pushing the lead up to as many as 12 points, but Arkansas got hot from behind the 3-point line right before the break and cut the deficit down to seven.
The Lady Bulldogs quickly pushed the lead back up to double digits out of the halftime break but suffered through another hot offensive streak by Arkansas. Once again it was Connally’s timely shooting that kept Georgia in commanding position, knocking down a corner three to end the Razorback run and send the Lady Bulldogs to the fourth up 10.
“I thought we withstood their runs really well,” Lange said. “Last month, we emotionally might have gotten disheveled or it would have affected us for a little bit longer. We stayed mature.”
The team’s recurring turnover problem flashed early in the fourth for Georgia. Connally and Cole again were able to shoot Georgia out of a bad run of play and carry the team over the finish line.
Against a team like Arkansas that shoots the highest volume of shots in the SEC by running and scoring quickly, Georgia had to speed up to stay in the game. It resulted in some flashes of the Lady Bulldogs that struggled at the beginning of conference play to value the basketball, but ultimately, they were able to do enough to balance out the bad.
“That little stretch where they were really making a run on us and we go three possessions where we just throw it away, that’s who we have been,” Lange said. “I thought over the last four or five games we’ve started not to be that team, which is why we’ve made really good progress.”
Overall, the team finished with 16 turnovers but also had 19 assists. With the possession advantage, Arkansas attempted more shots than Georgia, but the teams made the same number of field goals, the difference coming at the line where Georgia outshot the Razorbacks 28 to 15.
Stopping the Stars
Arkansas entered the game with two of the top-20 scorers in the SEC. Chelsea Dungee’s 18.9 points per game ranked second in the conference and Malica Monk’s 13.8 were good for sixteenth.
A combination of Que Morrison and Cole on the perimeter frustrated Arkansas’ stars all night and limited Dungee to only five points on 2-10 shooting deep into the third quarter. Monk scored only four points on five attempts in the first three periods.
The duo picked it up in the fourth, and Dungee finished with her usual 18 points despite shooting 4-for-15 from the floor in large part to a 9-for-12 day at the free throw line. Monk had six on 3-for-8 shooting.
“I thought we did a great job on Dungee and on Monk early,” Lange said. “Granted they’re great players so they start to make plays late, but I thought that was a really big factor. I wasn’t sure how good of a job we would do on them and I thought we did a really good job.”
Caliya Robinson- After a 24-point performance against Ole Miss earlier in the week, Robinson continued to lead the way for Georgia offensively. Her 21 points on an efficient 8-for-14 from the field led the team and she added 11 rebounds, five assists, and three blocks.
Maya Caldwell- Caldwell has done more than cement her spot in the starting lineup, she’s become one of Georgia’s most important and consistent players down the stretch. After 15 points on Monday, she scored 12 against Arkansas.
Que Morrison- Along with her stellar defense, Morrison contributed 16 points and helped stretch the floor for Georgia, going 3-for-5 from behind the 3-point line. She shot 5-for-7 overall and had three steals.