Georgia guard Chloe Chapman (1) dribbles the ball. The Georgia women’s basketball team played North Carolina A&T State University on Nov. 13, 2019 in Athens, Georgia. The final score was 72-54. (Photo/Julian Alexander, jalexander@randb.com)

The Georgia women’s basketball team defeated the Mercer Bears 76-60, improving to 3-1 behind a 26-point third quarter outburst. Georgia played a high-energy game and was bolstered by a strong bench performance.

Junior guard Gabby Connally led the team in scoring and rebounding with 14 points and eight rebounds. Junior Que Morrison and sophomore Caitin Hose each added 10 points and were both 2-2 from the 3-point line.

“I think defensively, we got a lot of stops, and we were going on a good run, so we had energy before going into halftime,” freshman guard Chloe Chapman said. “Then once we came out I think we kept that energy and that gave us the ability to stretch it out.” 

Georgia’s energy was the key in this game. The Bulldogs had just come off a disappointing 30-point home loss to rival Georgia Tech.

Since the loss, Georgia has placed an emphasis on its pre-game energy.

“Our energy level was beyond sky high,” Morrison said. “Even in warmups, it is way better than what it has been, and we actually have had a talk about our energy levels. The energy we had [played] a huge role in the type of game that we had.”

The Bulldogs came out fast but turned the ball over 10 times in a sloppy first quarter. Head coach Joni Taylor was not pleased and proceeded to change her lineup combinations.

Freshmen Jordan Isaacs and Javyn Nicholson soaked up significant minutes in the post rotation, as redshirt junior Jenna Staiti played just 8 minutes, 48 seconds. 

“It was really exciting for them,” Taylor said. “We have always said that we have a chance this year to play a lot of people just because we want to press. We want to do some different things defensively. We are going to be able to sub. … I thought our freshmen were really good. Javyn and Jordan were really good tonight.”

Among those receiving an opportunity was redshirt sophomore Malury Bates. She played 19 minutes, 49 seconds, scoring five points and pulling down seven rebounds. She was a team-high plus-20 in that span.

The Bulldogs’ strong third quarter broke a trend of coming out flat after the halftime break, scoring a season-high 46 second-half points. This type of offense is Georgia’s best bet to succeed with an increasingly difficult schedule.

The Bulldogs have a quick turnaround for their next matchup against the Villanova Wildcats. It will be the fourth clash of the six-game home set, but the team’s energy is still as high as ever.

“We are really excited about this win,” Chapman said. “It starts with practice tomorrow and especially practice on Saturday, so we have to make sure we keep up the energy and that we are focused and ready for Sunday’s game.”

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