Early on, it looked like Georgia had a roadmap on how to take down the reigning national champions using inside scoring. That turned out just to be a tease as the Lady Bulldogs fell to South Carolina 77-65.
Coming off of a bad 62-46 loss at No. 11 Tennessee, 20th-ranked Georgia (22-4, 9-4 SEC) needed to change something up from its last outing. That change wasn’t very subtle. The Lady Bulldogs, who shot an abysmal 8.3 percent from 3-point range against the Vols, focused on high percentage shots against South Carolina (21-5, 10-3 SEC).
In the first half alone, Georgia nearly matched the 30 points in the paint the Lady Bulldogs had against Tennessee, putting up 24 of their 37 points within close range. Unsurprisingly leading that charge was Georgia’s go-to low post scorer Caliya Robinson, who scored eight points in the first half. Robinson’s scoring, plus some help from Que Morrison, is what helped give Georgia a 37-35 point lead into the half.
That success couldn’t be sustained though. In the second half, Georgia only had 14 points inside the paint. That, combined with South Carolina’s success on the offensive glass is what lead to the demise of Georgia in the game.
The Gamecocks hauled a staggering 18 offensive rebounds in for the game, more than half of Georgia's total rebound number of 32.
A lot of those offensive rebounds came from South Carolina’s A’ja Wilson, one of the best rebounders and overall players in the nation. Wilson had 16 rebounds and seven of those gave the Gamecocks a second, sometimes even a third chance on offense. And they utilized those extra opportunities, putting 18 second-chance points, 10 more than Georgia.
“Their second shot is their best shot,” Georgia head coach Joni Taylor said. “It’s tough enough to guard them the first time around. You can’t give them another chance… especially when that person is A’ja.”
Wilson didn’t just put up big numbers rebounding the ball, she did much more than that. She completely filled up the box score with 18 points and three blocks to tag along with her big rebounding total.
But she wasn’t the only player for South Carolina to torch Georgia. In fact, she was only the team’s third-leading scorer, and the least efficient one of those three, shooting 33-percent from the floor. Alexis Jennings and Tyasha Harris were the two driving factors in South Carolina’s 77 point explosion, as the two put up 19 and 20 points, respectively.
Averaging 22.7 points and 11.4 rebounds per game, Wilson was the focus of Georgia's defense. That focus is what allowed Jennings and Harris to put up the numbers that they did.
With two straight losses, Georgia now enters do-or-die territory as it nears the postseason. The Lady Bulldogs really needed a win over either Tennessee or South Carolina to remain in contention for a double-bye in the SEC tournament. But the losses aren’t something the Lady Bulldogs can get hung up on. There’s really only one option that Georgia sees now for the rest of the regular season.
“We need to win-out, bottom line,” senior Mackenzie Engram said. “We can’t have any more slip-ups.”