It wasn’t as convincing as the first matchup, but for the second time this month, the Georgia women's basketball team handled a Florida team near the bottom of the SEC, this time 69-57 on the road in Gainesville.
Associate head coach Karen Lange again filled in for head coach Joni Taylor, who is still not able to travel after giving birth to her second child a little over a week ago. Lange saw her team jump out to an early lead and control the game throughout.
“Everybody contributed to this team victory tonight,” Lange said. “It’s always good to leave here with a win.”
A big 16-0 run that spanned just over six minutes in the first quarter turned what was a tie game early in Georgia’s favor. Florida went 4-16 in the quarter but bounced back to close the gap before the half.
The two teams canceled each other out in the second, with Florida getting hot and making seven of eleven shots including a pair of 3-pointers. Georgia matched Florida’s 17-point quarter by getting up more shots than its opponents, taking a nine-point lead into the half.
Caliya Robinson sat for much of the first half after picking up two fouls. Taja Cole and Maya Caldwell picked up their star with a combined 17 points in the first 20 minutes to ensure Georgia maintained control of the game.
“Caliya got into early foul trouble, but we knew they would come after her,” Lange said. “We were able to play really well and we had some players step up in a big way to lead us.”
Georgia managed to offset a poor shooting night from 3-point range by crashing the offensive glass. The Lady Bulldogs went 2-13 from deep, but doubled up the Gators on the offensive boards 15-7 and had 13-second chance points.
Florida lowered the deficit to single digits in the fourth, at one point had it all the way down to seven, but three-point plays on back to back possessions by Cole, one on a 3-point shot from the corner and the other on a finish at the rim plus a foul, iced the game for Georgia.
Taja Cole: She didn’t have her normal assist numbers, but Cole easily led the Lady Bulldogs in scoring. Her 18 points were her third-highest scoring output this season and she also contributed eight rebounds and four assists.
Caliya Robinson: Robinson still managed eleven points on an efficient 5-8 from the field despite playing sparingly. Limited to only 24 minutes because of foul trouble, Robinson made an impact defensively when she was able, blocking three shots and grabbing seven rebounds. Georgia struggled to defend the paint in the minutes she was off the court.
Zada Williams: With Robinson off the court, Florida’s starting forward took advantage and was the team’s top scorer, setting her career high with 21 points. Williams was a big reason that nearly half of the Gator’s points came in the paint.
What Comes Next
Georgia’s final regular season game is Sunday at home against the No. 11 Kentucky Wildcats. The Lady Bulldogs are still holding on to slim hopes of an NCAA Tournament berth, hopes that would likely completely disappear if they fail to pull off the upset.
Regardless of the possible NCAA Tournament implications, that game could be huge for seeding in the SEC Tournament. Going into Thursday night, Georgia was tied with two other teams in the middle of the SEC standings at 8-6.