Georgia guard Gabby Connally (2) looks to pass the ball. The Georgia Bulldogs fell at home to Kentucky on Sunday, March 3, 2019, with a final score 58-53. (photo/Ryan Cameron rac86114@uga.edu)

The Georgia women’s basketball team claimed its first win of the season as they defeated the Kennesaw State Owls 80-65 on the opening night of the 2019 season. Georgia controlled the action for the majority of the game, while Kennesaw State struggled to stay within striking distance.

Junior Gabby Connally notched her sixth career 20-point game, scoring 28, while dishing a career-high nine assists. Redshirt junior center Jenna Staiti managed a double-double and junior Maya Caldwell added 18 points on an efficient 7-9 shooting night.

“I think we have a lot of threats,” Staiti said. “Maya and Gabby knocking down everything, they look really good. I think this year we have so many pieces that you can go inside, you can go outside, and it is going to be hard to guard once we figure out our flow.”

Something that immediately stands out in the box score is the amount of 3-point shots taken and made by the Bulldogs on offense.

Georgia made 10 3-pointers at a 10-21 (47.6%) clip.

“Overall, we were able to [shoot 3-pointers]than we have in the past,” head coach Joni Taylor said. “Caitlin [Hose] is shooting the ball really well, Maya shoots the ball, Gabby. So our starting three, you have to to guard them, which opens up things for Jenna and opens up things for Steph [Paul].”

Before tonight’s opener, Taylor expressed her hopes of a more dynamic offense this season. She emphasized the defensive-oriented nature of the team in years past but seemed confident that could change.

The offense showed glimpses of how dynamic they can be against a well-rounded Kennesaw State team.

Coming into this game, the Bulldogs knew they had a good chance to show off shooting ability based on their opponent’s defensive scheme.

“We knew they were going to play a zone, so it is something that was highlighted,” Caldwell said. “A handful of us took it upon ourselves, almost everybody, to get the extra threes in.”

Following the theme of offense, Connally flourished in her initial run as the full time playmaker and ball handler. Her passes were timely and precise, and she looked comfortable on the floor, despite the extra weight on her shoulders.

Georgia finished with 19 assists on 29 made baskets. That number was good for a plus-6 turnover differential over Kennesaw State.

Georgia hopes to keep the momentum they gain from sharing the basketball going, although Connally  may be cautious of oversharing.

“We always have been really good [at sharing the ball] as a team,” Connally said. “Sometimes they tell us in practice that we are oversharing the basketball, we pass too much ... I think that if someone comes off a screen and they have an open shot, they need to be able to shoot that, not look to pass.”

Taylor loved the way her team spaced the floor and knocked down shots.

“Hopefully that is what you see from us every time we play,” Taylor said.

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