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Post Lady Dogs answer the bell

Thursday March 5, 2009

The Lady Dogs wouldn’t guarantee themselves an NCAA Tournament bid with a win over Kentucky in the first round of the SEC Tournament, but a loss would certainly deny them any chance of a bid.

So when a prolonged scoring drought extended from the end of the first half into the start of the second half and saw a 9-point lead turn to a 9-point deficit with 16 minutes remaining, the season was quickly circling the drain. To their credit, the Lady Dogs turned it up on both ends almost immediately and rode a 14-2 run to recapture the lead. That spurt would turn into a prolonged 38-12 run that put Georgia ahead 71-54 with just over three minutes left and put the game well in hand.

The difference in the 82-64 win was bench production. I wrote in my preview that “when Houts, Phillips, and Robinson play well, Georgia is usually successful,” but that’s not news. All three did end up with good stat sheets. But when you get 17 points on 8-for-12 shooting from Christy Marshall and a big 7 points on perfect 3-for-3 shooting from freshman Meredith Mitchell to go along with the production of Houts, Phillips, and Robinson, Georgia is tough for anyone to stop.

Andy Landers explained,

We made the stops and forced turnovers and we got the ball and were able to make some offensive plays and then we just kept going, built on it. I think that one of the things we’re starting to learn is that we can play much better tired or when they think they’re tired, but they believed more than they believed that they could during the regular season. We finished some games very well.

Finishing strong has been key in the three straight wins since Georgia snapped a five-game losing streak. The Lady Dogs faded down the stretch during losses to Vanderbilt, Arkansas, Auburn, and LSU, and their ability to step up at the end of games has helped them turn it around.

With the win Georgia advances to face #2-seed Vanderbilt in the quarterfinals. The two teams split during the regular season with each team winning on its own court. Georgia has the advantage inside, but Vandy can shoot well from outside. Foul trouble played a key role in both games. In Athens, Commodore star Christina Wirth spent much of the game on the bench due to fouls. In Nashville, Georgia’s frontcourt advantage was wiped out when Porsha Phillips fouled out early in the second half. Early foul trouble should be a key stat to watch in tomorrow’s third meeting (3:30 ET, Fox SS).

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