An electric fourth quarter comeback to defeat the Florida Gators highlighted an emotional senior day for the Georgia women’s basketball team on Sunday. The Bulldogs’ late run led to a 65-59 victory in their final game of the regular season.
Coach Joni Taylor has emphasized the importance of experience throughout the season and had high praise for her seniors.
“They represent us to the highest level — on the floor, off the floor,” Taylor said. “This is what you want everybody to be, so I certainly hope that our younger players learn from their example.”
Redshirt junior Jenna Staiti led the way again for the Bulldogs, putting up 20 points and grabbing 12 rebounds. This was the fifth double-double of the season for Staiti and the sixth of her collegiate career. She has scored double-digit points in eight of her last nine games to help Georgia through its recent surge.
Junior Gabby Connally added 13 points making this the twentieth game she has reached double-digits this year. Seniors Stephanie Paul and Ari Henderson also added valuable minutes in the starting lineup. Paul had seven points and grabbed nine rebounds to help the Bulldogs to victory.
As a walk-on, Henderson has played a large role on the program. Whether it was running the scout team at practice or being supportive during games, she has always embraced the role she has to play. Many of Henderson's teammates have high praise for her leadership and encouragement.
“I just really appreciate Ari. I love her. She's my sister. She's on the scout team and goes through the other team's offense and she always pushes us,” Paul said. “She always kills us on offense, getting buckets left and right.”
Georgia will take the momentum from this victory to try and make a run in the SEC tournament in Greenville, South Carolina, from March 4-8. The win helped the Bulldogs claim the ninth seed in the bracket, which means they will play the eighth-seeded Alabama Crimson Tide on Thursday.
Taylor knows the importance of confidence and momentum in March.
“I am just proud of us to finish out at home, in front of our crowd,” Taylor said. “We’ve had a rocky season in terms of injuries and youth, and we are growing up and maturing at the right time.”