Monday, November 15, 2010

Lady Dawgs Win Opener


The 19th-ranked Georgia women’s basketball team officially opened the 2010-11 campaign with a 58-43 win Sunday afternoon over in-state rival Georgia Southern in historic Stegeman Coliseum.

The Lady Dawgs enjoyed a double-double performance from senior forward Porsha Phillips – an 11-point, 13-rebound effort – while junior guard Meredith Mitchell matched her teammate with 11 points of her own helping the squad to a 1-0 start to the season. Georgia Southern falls to 0-1 as Sunday was also the season opener for the Lady Eagles.

“You’ve got to tip your hat to Georgia Southern,” said head coach Andy Landers. “They played well and hit their shots. It seemed like every time we were able to get the lead, they would hit a shot and make it close again. It was encouraging, but we’ve gotten to the point where we need to get better.”

“We were scoring down low,” Landers added. “Tamika Willis was 4-for-4 and had eight rebounds in 13 or 14 minutes. I thought that she was strong when she got the ball down low, turning and putting the ball up and also working the ball inside-out. Ebony Jones keeps getting better. I thought she played well when she got in there in the first half. I thought we were pretty good inside offensively. On the perimeter, we didn’t shoot it as well as we have been in practice.”

After Georgia Southern led 5-2 in the early going, the Lady Eagles failed to score again for nearly five minutes, conceding a 12-0 Lady Dawg run over that span. Georgia built a nine point lead, 14-5, with 13:46 to play in the first period on a lay-up from Phillips, but GSU took advantage of a cold spell for the home team, re-taking the lead, 15-14, with 7:38 left in the opening frame.

The Lady Dawgs scored 11 of the half’s final 13 points to take control with an 11-point lead, 30-19, entering the intermission. Phillips was Georgia’s leading scorer through the first 20:00, tallying seven first-half points and already sitting with eight boards.

Georgia extended its offensive run through halftime, scoring the first points of the second half on a jumper from Phillips to go up by 13, 32-19. The teams traded buckets over the next 10 minutes with UGA still guarding a 12-point lead at 42-30 with 10:22 to play on a free throw from rookie Khaalidah Miller.

The Lady Eagles would cut it to single-digits with 8:35 on the clock, facing just an eight-point deficit at 42-34, but Georgia responded with a jumper for Miller followed by a three from freshman Ronika Ransford to stretch it back to 13, 47-34, with 7:08 to go. A three for Mitchell and a lay-up from Anne Marie Armstrong gave the Lady Dawgs their largest lead of the afternoon at 17, 54-37, with just over three minutes showing. The closest Southern would get after that was 13 on a three from Ro-Ro Smith, and Phillips closed out the day with a pair of free throws down the stretch to seal the 15-point victory for Georgia in the opener.

The double-double was the 12th of Phillips’ career, as the Stone Mountain native added three steals and three assists in 30 minutes. Willis took advantage of her 13 minutes of action, chipping in career highs of nine points and eight rebounds on the day as the Lady Dawgs held the edge on the glass, 49-38. Mitchell dished out a career-best seven steals, while committing only one turnover.

Southern’s Jamie Navarro was the leading scorer for the visitors, totaling 10 points while adding nine rebounds. Smith and Meredith Frye added nine apiece.

Georgia improves to 21-9 all-time against the Peach State rival, including an 11-3 clip in Athens. Sunday was the Lady Dawgs’ 19 straight win over GSU as the teams last met in 2007, a 105-66 win for Georgia.

Sunday was significant for another reason, marking the reunion of the 1985 NCAA runner-up team, which held a pre-game reception before being honored at halftime.

The Lady Dawgs are next in action on Friday, November 19th, welcoming Chattanooga to Stegeman Coliseum for a 7 p.m. tip.

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