Led by Jasmine Hassell’s 19 points, the third-seeded Georgia Lady Dogs cooled off the SEC’s hottest team, #6 seed LSU, 71-53 in Friday night’s quarterfinal of the SEC Tournament. LSU had won seven straight games, starting with a 62-54 win over Georgia in Baton Rouge in early February.
All five Georgia starters scored in double figures and the team shot over 45% from the floor in a welcome show of firepower. The Lady Dogs hit two three-pointers to open the scoring and never trailed. Georgia led by ten at halftime, came out firing after intermission, and eventually led by as many as 28 points.
LSU, already down to eight players entering the postseason, took another hit when forward Shanece McKinney suffered an apparent concussion during the first half. The Tigers were taken to the buzzer by Auburn in Thursday’s opening round, and the thin roster wasn’t able to hold up against a Georgia team fresh off an opening round bye. The Lady Dogs were able to show off their depth and play 12 players thanks to the large lead.
Georgia advances to face second-seeded Kentucky in the second semifinal on Saturday. Tip-off will be just after 6:00. Georgia broke a 34-game Kentucky home win streak in February with a tight 75-71 comeback victory, and they know that Kentucky will be looking for redemption for one of their few losses. The Lady Dogs trailed by 10 at halftime in Lexington but exploded for 45 second half points. Khaalidah Miller was the star, posting a career-high 25 points and handling the point guard duties once Jasmine James headed to the bench with early foul trouble.
The Wildcats will present challenges on both ends of the court. Their trademark pressure defense forced 26 Georgia turnovers in Lexington, but opportunities are there if you can break the pressure. The Kentucky offense is no picnic either. Not only do they create transition chances out of their defense, but they can be efficient in the halfcourt game also. Jennifer O’Neill and A’dia Mathies will score from the guard position, but they can find Samarie Walker and DeNesha Stallworth inside. Kentucky had a fairly easy time of it with Vanderbilt in their quarterfinal, and they’ll be well-rested for Georgia. The Wildcats had 10 players play at least 12 minutes against Vandy.