Georgia women’s basketball’s multiple season-highs against Georgia State Thursday proved why the Bulldogs remain undefeated as they prepare for conference play. Three players scored in double figures, including freshman Sarah Ashlee Barker, who came off the bench to post her first double-double of her career.
Gabby Connally, who often leads the team in scoring with an average of 11.5 points per game and over 27 minutes of play, had seven points in 17 minutes on Thursday. Staiti, averaging 15 points this year, only scored four points in the first half. She still met her usual standard, though, sinking eight consecutive points for Georgia in the third quarter to finish with 16.
With a 45-23 lead by the half, four bench players ultimately saw more playing time than starters Jordan Isaacs and Que Morrison. The bench made the most of the opportunity, combining for 34 points and 28 rebounds, 56% of the team’s season-high 50.
Georgia also recorded their most blocks this season with 11, highlighted by four from Staiti and five from the bench. Staiti now has 137 career blocks, four away from tying ninth place on Georgia’s all-time list.
Twenty-two assists also marked their most this season with Que Morrison tying her career-high of seven in the first half alone.
Head coach Joni Taylor said Georgia’s success is what she expected from an experienced team that includes four seniors. Each spot on the bench is a weapon that Taylor has to her advantage.
After the NCAA decided to grant immediate eligibility to all college athletes Wednesday, sophomore Rutgers transfer Maori Davenport became Georgia’s latest weapon. The 6-foot-4 center only played five minutes late in the second half but grabbed two rebounds and one steal.
“I would love to see her out there, but she has got to learn a lot more of our tweaks and some of the things that we have done that she has not been on that side of the floor for,” Taylor said. “It’s about protecting her and putting her in the right position. We are not putting an expectation on it, we are going to take it practice by practice and game by game.”
When Davenport sent a group text that she was cleared to play hours before Thursday’s game, Caldwell said it was one of the best moments she experienced as a Lady Bulldog.
“We are already really deep, and now we are even deeper,” Caldwell said. “I love it because she puts up a lot of work on us in practice, so to have her play with us and not against us anymore … thank God.”
Georgia’s out-of-conference play will conclude with a game against Appalachian State on Dec. 22. SEC play will begin on Dec. 31, when Georgia will host No. 13 Mississippi State at home.
As dominant as the Lady Bulldogs have been, focusing on the little things and remaining present in the fourth quarter will determine their success against SEC opponents.
“If we aren't doing it right right now, we won't do it right in conference play,” Staiti said. “We need to take advantage of these games, run what we do, run the offense right, run our defense right, and just perfect it as much as we can.”