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Georgia coach Joni Taylor speaks to Georgia guard Gabby Connally (2). The Georgia women’s basketball team defeated the Kennesaw State University Owls 80-65 in their home opener on Thursday, Nov. 7, 2019, in Stegeman Coliseum in Athens, Georgia. (Photo/Julian Alexander, jalexander@randb.com)

The Georgia Bulldogs’ four-game win streak against the Vanderbilt Commodores came to a heartbreaking end after falling short, 63-55 at Stegeman Coliseum on Thursday night. A lot of things didn’t go the Bulldogs’ way, and it got the best of them as their energy level didn’t compare to how the Commodores came out and played. 

Georgia endured its second straight SEC loss – its first one being to No. 14 Mississippi State on Jan. 5. Georgia head coach Joni Taylor’s frustration level was high all throughout the game and carried over after. 

“We played how we practiced the last two days,” said Taylor. “We told them what a shame it would be if we couldn’t take care of business at home because we’re not focused and our intensity isn’t the same as it was on Sunday.”

It was a battle up and down the court for both teams and neither one could find a solid rhythm to make shots fall. In the second quarter, there was no identity on offense for Georgia, as the team only scored eight during the entire period. Vanderbilt made a last-second layup as the buzzer sounded and went into halftime with a 25-23 lead. 

From that moment, the momentum shifted the Commodores’ way and continued to do so for the rest of the game. 

The Commodores bench made a significant contribution to how the team came out and performed. Their bench outscored the Bulldogs’ 33-5. 22 of those points came from Vanderbilt’s Koi Love, as she led her team in scoring. 

Vanderbilt is known to have a strong third-quarter team and it was evident as they shot over 50% from the field during the quarter. Vanderbilt took advantage of the Bulldogs’ missed jumpers and capitalized on their poor effort to take care of the basketball. Georgia shot 33% from the paint and had 15 turnovers to end the game. 

“I feel like we got too comfortable,” said junior guard Maya Caldwell. “We didn’t settle in like we were supposed to, we let them get away, they went on a run and we did not do a good job of stopping them.”

Caldwell tallied 12 points to end the night. Redshirt junior Jenna Staiti led the team in scoring and rebounds with 18 points and 11 boards. Staiti emphasized the team’s level of focus and that not everyone’s heads were where they should’ve been.

“We weren’t focused tonight,” said Staiti. “[Vanderbilt] took advantage of it and made shots when they needed too. We can’t keep repeating the same things over and over again.”

Vanderbilt led by as many as 14 points, with the game beginning to look far out of reach for Georgia. However, with two minutes remaining, the Bulldogs began to battle back and cut into the Commodores lead, trailing by seven. But when Georgia would make a shot, Vanderbilt answered.

Georgia’s next matchup will be on the road in Knoxville against Tennessee on Sunday at 1 p.m. As competition against SEC opponents continues, the game plan will rely upon remaining focused.

“What we have to realize is that this can happen every night,” said Staiti. “If we don’t turn this around and we don’t come to practice everyday focused, it’s going to happen every night. We have to figure out a way to get everyone on the same page.”

 

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