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UGA women's basketball's Que Morrison (23) dribbles the ball and calls out to teammates on the court during a game at Stegeman Coliseum in Athens, Georgia. The Lady Dogs defeated Gardner-Webb University 97-45 on Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021. (Photo/Sydney Fordice, @sydneyfordicephoto)

It took only five seconds for Georgia to get its season up and running after senior Mikayla Coombs gathered Que Morrison’s pass for the wide-open layup, giving Stegeman Coliseum something to cheer about almost instantly.

“[It was a] great way to start,” Coombs said. “I think it just helped us, scoring that fast, and just seeing the run we had as soon as the quarter started. I think it helped us set the tone, and it kind of followed after that. So, if we’re able to come out and set the tone like that, I think we’ll be good every game.”

Coombs' layup kickstarted a 19-0 run that bulked a monster first quarter for the Bulldogs. Sarah Ashlee Barker capped it off with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer that gave Georgia a 28-4 lead over Gardner-Webb through the first.

The Bulldogs shot 10 of 16 from the field, 2 of 4 from 3-point range and converted 6 of 7 free throws in the quarter. Morrison led the team with seven points in that span – all of which she earned in the first five minutes. Barker, Coombs and Javyn Nicholson also added six, five and four first-quarter points each.

“It’s exactly what our coaches expect of us – what we expect of ourselves,” Nicholson said. “It’s what we prepare for every day and our non-conference [schedule] is really just our test to see how dominant we can be. I think we saw glimpses of us really playing fast and getting after it defensively. So, I think it was a great performance of our potential this year.”

Georgia was just as effective on the defensive side in the first period, holding Gardner-Webb to 8% shooting from the field. Gardner-Webb’s first-quarter performance also added seven personal fouls and 11 turnovers, resulting in 14 Georgia points.

The Runnin’ Bulldogs didn’t score their first basket until eight minutes into the game when sophomore Emma Capps got her layup to fall.

Defense has been a major point of emphasis for Georgia head coach Joni Taylor. Holding an opponent to four points on 1 of 12 from the field in a 10-minute period is a reflection of the defensive culture Taylor has illuminated upon Georgia.

“It was just about being sound defensively,” Taylor said. “These first couple games the message is the same: We have no idea what they’ll run. We can tell you what they did last year, but it could change. So, be who we are on the defensive end, disrupt, get after it and then offensively let's run and let’s go share the basketball.”

The Bulldogs continued their dominance throughout the remainder of the contest for the 97-45 victory. Next, they host Furman on Nov. 15 at 7 p.m. for the second game of the season.