Size, Experience Power Georgia Past Dayton

By John Frierson
Staff Writer

The Georgia women’s basketball team made the most of its size and experience Friday night, advancing to the second round of the NCAA tournament with a 70-54 win over Dayton in the opening round at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa

Facing the No. 11-seeded Flyers, the sixth-seeded Lady Bulldogs got 19 points, eight rebounds and three blocks from 6-foot-4 Jenna Staiti, 16 points, eight rebounds and seven assists from guard Que Morrison — a graduate student like Staiti — and 15 points off the bench from 6-5 freshman Jillian Hollingshead in her first game back following a knee injury.

Georgia (21-9) outrebounded the Flyers 48-31 and had a 30-16 scoring advantage in the paint. The Lady Bulldogs led 19-17 after the first quarter before Georgia’s post players, led by Hollingshead, sparked a surge in the second quarter.

“We just do what we did best,” Hollingshead said of Georgia’s post play. “We never gave up in the post. In the post it’s hard, you get beat up down there, but you just never give up. Go up strong, go up with two hands, and it will just speak for itself.”

The 6-3 Malury Bates hit two free throws to put Georgia up 21-19, followed by a Hollingshead jumper. Morrison drove for a layup and a 25-20 lead, followed by back-to-back Hollingshead baskets. The 6-2 Javyn Nicholson made two free throws to put the Lady Bulldogs up 31-22 with 5:21 to play in the half and later Hollingshead hit another jumper to make it 33-24.

Bates hit a freshman throw with 2.8 seconds left in the half to give Georgia a 41-31 lead. Hollingshead scored 10 points in eight minutes in the second quarter, helping the Lady Bulldogs get some breathing room against the Flyers (26-6). Georgia’s inside aggression also led to a lot of free-throw attempts, with the Lady Dogs going 14 of 20 in the opening half to just 2 of 4 for Dayton in the Greensboro Region matchup.

Georgia led 57-48 early in the fourth quarter when the Lady Bulldogs seized control for good. Hollingshead scored off the glass from the right side and then Morrison got a steal, was intentionally fouled, hit both free throws, and then on the ensuing possession Bates scored inside, pushing the lead to 63-48 with 6:31 remaining.

Later, Staiti asserted her presence inside and out, hitting a 19-foot jumper, followed moments later by a block inside. She added another block soon after before going to the bench for the final 1:40 on the clock.

Georgia is making its 35th appearance in the NCAA tournament, tied with Stanford for second-most all-time. And while it might seem like Morrison and Staiti, the super seniors, have played in most of those given their many years as Lady Bulldogs, the veterans have now only played in a combined 11 NCAA games.

However, they’ve combined to play in 287 college basketball games, with Morrison owning the school record at 137 (and counting). And Friday night, against a Flyers squad that wasn’t going away, Georgia’s most experienced players handled themselves like the veterans they are.

Staiti finished 8 of 14 from the floor and 3 of 4 from the line. She helped Georgia own the glass with her eight rebounds and was disruptive on the other end with the three blocks and numerous other altered shots. Morrison, meanwhile, was 6 of 11 from the field, 3 of 4 at the line, grabbed eight rebounds and dished out seven assists, while also getting two steals and a block.

At the other end of the experience spectrum was Hollingshead, playing in her first NCAA tournament game and first game this season since Feb. 13. She went 7 of 13 from the field and set a new career high with 15 points, the most by a Georgia freshman in the NCAA tournament since Shacobia Barbee scored 20 against Iowa State back in 2013.

Staiti said Hollingshead’s performance Friday was “what we know she can do every single time. We are super proud of her and we know if the ball is in Jillian’s hands, we’re in good hands.”

And up next for Georgia is Iowa State, a No. 3 seed playing in its home gym. The Cyclones (27-6) escaped a scare from No. 15-seed  UT Arlington, 78-71, late Friday night.

Assistant Sports Communications Director John Frierson is the staff writer for the UGA Athletic Association and curator of the ITA Men’s Tennis Hall of Fame. You can find his work at: Frierson Files. He’s also on Twitter: @FriersonFiles and @ITAHallofFame.

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Size, Experience Power Georgia Past Dayton – University of Georgia Athletics – Georgia Bulldogs
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