Reloaded and relentless, Georgia women’s basketball opens NCAA tourney against Florida State

Georgia head coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson Georgia forward Brittney Smith (24) during a match against Furman at Stegeman Coliseum in Athens, Ga., on Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022. (Photo by Kayla Renie)
Kayla Renie/UGA Sports

ATHENS — The Georgia women’s basketball program has been here before, but not like this.

Coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson has guided the Lady Bulldogs (21-11, 9-7 SEC) to the program’s 36th NCAA tourney appearance in her first year leading the program.

The first-year Georgia coach brought three players with her from UCF, but the rest were new to her ways.

“Twelve new philosophies,” she said, “that is really hard to come to one.”

That Georgia philosophy is rooted in toughness and features tenacious defense.

“Just being Georgia Bulldogs, playing our defense and just locking in on the game plan and what our coaches set for us to do,” said Diamond Battles, an All-SEC selection and All-Defensive Team pick.

“Just irritants, gritty, passionate defenders, relentless.”

Javyn Nicholson, one of the five returning players, said it has been a changing but rewarding transition to the new staff.

“Coming back for Abe, I knew it was going to be different,” Nicholson said. “But I didn’t realize how much of myself I was going to have to change and new things I was going to have to adapt.”

With a win today, Georgia would advance to play the winner of the game between host No. 2-seed Iowa and No. 15-seed Southeast Louisiana on Sunday. The winner of that game moves on to the Sweet 16 site in Seattle.

Georgia is looking for its first Sweet 16 appearance since 2013.

The Lady Bulldogs reached the second round of the NCAA tournament three times in the previous seven years while coached by Joni Taylor.

Taylor, of course, left the Georgia program to take a massive raise at Texas A&M where the Aggies were 9-20 overall and 2-14 in the SEC this season.

The Women’s Final Four will be played at American Airlines Center in Dallas this year.

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