The Georgia women’s basketball team was off to one of its best starts to a season ever, but had its 11-game winning streak snapped in heartbreaking fashion on the road against Rutgers Saturday, 61-58.
The Lady Dogs (11-1) fought to erase an early deficit, but the Scarlet Knights (9-2) were able to fend off a late rally.
"I'm proud of the fact that we didn't fold," head coach Andy Landers said. "They were handing it to us the first five or six minutes. We kind of got our balance and played well the rest of the way. We came up short but give credit to Rutgers."
With a mere 21 seconds remaining, sophomore Shacobia Barbee drained a 3-pointer to pull Georgia within four. Following a failed 1-and-1 by Rutgers, Barbee made another jumper from behind the arch to cut the lead to just one — 59-58.
Rutgers’ Tyler Scaife made the Lady Dogs’ comeback more difficult, though, by converting on two free throws right after Barbee’s 3-pointer. Senior Khaalidah Miller threw up a 3-pointer to tie it, but it bounced off the rim, sealing the Scarlet Knights victory.
Barbee finished the day with a season-best 18 points, with 17 of those coming in the second half. Miller had 11 points and junior Krista Donald registered the game-high 11 rebounds for Georgia.
The Lady Dogs had several rallies throughout the game, as Rutgers always seemed to have the upper hand.
The Scarlet Knight held a 9-0 lead out of the gate, as the Lady Dogs struggled to find an offensive rhythm. Georgia committed turnovers on its first seven possessions and did not attempt a foul shot until 15:41 remained in the half.
Erika Ford was the first Lady Dog to score, making a field goal with 14 minutes left in the first half.
Rutgers built a 21-11 lead, but Georgia rode a 12-4 run to trim the differential to 25-23, and then tied the game with 1:59 in the half on a Miller 3-pointer. Miller failed to make a lay-up on a fast break, which would have given Georgia its first lead of the game, and the Scarlet Knights scored the last four points of the half.
"I was obviously disappointed with the way we started the game," Landers said. "We dug ourselves a deep hole, but we fought out of it and after that opening series played reasonably well."
One big issue for the Lady Dogs was turnovers. In the first half alone, Georgia committed 14 turnovers —just one less than their average of 15. Those turnovers led to 13 points for Rutgers.
Georgia did not lead the game until 12:57 was left on the clock, when Donald sank two free throws to give the Lady Dogs a 38-37 advantage. Just 34 second later, though, Briyona Canty made a jumper to retake the lead for Rutgers. The last time Georgia led followed a Tiaria Griffin 3-point play, when the score was 46-45 with over six minutes remaining.
Kahleah Copper made two free throws that sparked a 14-6 run for Rutgers, essentially clinching the game for the Scarlet Knights.
The Lady Dogs will have a seven day reprieve before returning to action Dec. 28 at home against Illinois. That game is set for a 4 p.m. tip in Stegeman Coliseum.