The all-time ledger between Andy Landers’ Lady Dogs program and Georgia Tech is a lopsided 30-4 in favor of Georgia. Recent history hasn’t been nearly as one-sided. Since Georgia won the first 24 contests, the Lady Dogs have only enjoyed a 5-4 edge in the series entering Sunday’s annual meeting. In fact, the Lady Dogs had to win on Sunday for its senior class to avoid the ignominy of being the first at Georgia to finish with a losing record against their rival.
Georgia got the win. The 74-68 triumph moved the Lady Dogs to 7-1 on the year and preserved an umblemished home record in the series with Tech.
The game was every bit as close as you’d expect from two teams that have had a lot in common with each other lately. Tech has joined Georgia as a regular participant in the NCAA Tournament, and the Jackets have been just outside the upper tier of the ACC for several seasons. With a team featuring five seniors, you’d expect them to give Georgia a fight, and they did. A year after a poor showing in Atlanta, Georgia was up to the challenge this year.
Forward Jasmine Hassell led the way for Georgia with a career-high 24 points. Hassell was engaged in battle for most of the game with Tech’s
imposing 6’5″ center Sasha Goodlett. The Lady Dogs had good success double-teaming Goodlett in the high post, but the Tech senior still finished with 19 points. Jasmine James and Meredith Mitchell also scored in double-figures for Georgia, and James notched a game-high five steals.
Both teams built small first half advantages, and a little Georgia run at the end of the first half tied things at 33 going into halftime. The Lady Dogs built another small lead early in the second half and kept Tech at arm’s length before another spurt with about 7 minutes to go punctuated by a Khaalidah Miller three-pointer opened up a 12-point Georgia advantage. Some missed foul shots and timely outside shooting from the visitors got Tech back to within three points inside of a minute left, but Georgia rediscovered their free throw shooting and iced the game from the line.
If there was one thing that put Georgia over the top, it was Georgia’s ability to create more turnovers than they committed. The Jackets rely on full-court pressure and tight on-ball defense to create transition opportunites on offense. Georgia occasionally struggled with this pressure, especially when Anne Marie Armstrong had to sit during the first half with foul trouble. But much more often than not the Lady Dogs were able to work it up the court and get into their halfcourt offense. Thanks in large part to the successful traps of Goodlett, the Lady Dogs forced 20 Tech turnovers and created their own opportunities to run.
The remainder of Georgia’s nonconference slate is highlighted by a Las Vegas holiday tournament in a couple of weeks which includes a game against Gonzaga. The Zags were one of the surprises of last season’s NCAA Tournament and have another quality team this year. If they can get past that game, the Lady Dogs stand a good chance of entering conference play on January 1st with a 12-1 record.