After Thursday's postponed contest against South Carolina, Georgia women’s basketball (10-1) defeated Florida 68-58 Sunday afternoon at Stegeman Coliseum.
Redshirt senior Jenna Staiti secured her 10th straight double-digit scoring performance with 17 points and 10 rebounds. This win also marks the 500th all-time program win at Stegeman Coliseum.
“This is the most talented team [Florida head coach] Cameron Newbauer has put on the floor. He does a tremendous job and he has several players who can score highlighted by Lavender Briggs, so we knew we had our hands full,” said head coach Joni Taylor. “I think our guards did a good job of defending them early and then in the third and the fourth we let them get off some.”
Florida’s lead scorer Lavender Briggs, averaging 21.3 points a game, finished with 16 as the Bulldogs secured 25 points from turnovers.
The first quarter was a low-scoring defensive matchup as Florida shot 44.4% from the paint.
The Bulldogs started with the advantage highlighted by a jumper from Staiti and a 3-pointer from senior Gabby Connally within the first two minutes of play. Two and-one opportunities by the Gators’ Kiara Smith allowed Florida to get the 6-5 advantage as Kristina Moore extended that lead to nine with a 3-point jumper.
Sophomore Javyn Nicholson subbed in for Staiti after her second foul and cut the lead 9-7 with 5:15 remaining. A steal from Connally allowed Que Morrison to go 2-for-2 at the free-throw line for the tie. The Gators then went on a 7-2 run followed by a jumper from Briggs, Floor Toonders and a 3-pointer from Nina Rickards.
“In the locker room, I don't think my teammates knew I had two fouls, so when we came back at halftime I don’t think they knew. That just shows the depth we have on this team and we can have anybody sub in and keep doing their thing,” Staiti said.
Morrison nailed her first three of the game and Maya Caldwell got off a late jumper to end the first down 20-16.
Caldwell began the second with a 3-pointer to cut the Gators’ lead to one as the offense picked up the pace. Back-to-back jumpers from Maori Davenport, Mikayla Coombs, and Nicholson gave the Bulldogs their first 27-26 advantage since early in the first.
After Richards answered Connally’s 3-pointer with a jumper to tie the score at 30, Georgia went on a 5-0 run. Caldwell ended the first half with another late jumper beyond the arc as the Bulldogs went into the locker room with the five-point lead.
Georgia began the third quarter with a 7-0 run as the Lady Bulldogs outscored the Gators 22-14. Eighteen points in the paint highlighted the third with 13 of those from Staiti.
Followed by a 3-pointer from Caldwell, who ended with 11 points, Georgia posted its largest 17 point lead of the game to top the Gators 68-48. Florida outscored the Bulldogs 12-9 in a late run, but Staiti put the Lady Bulldogs back up by double digits.
Both teams finished with 38 rebounds and Georgia finished 6-for-15 beyond the arc.
Next up, Georgia heads to Knoxville, Tennessee, to take on the Volunteers (7-1) Thursday at 6:30 p.m.