UGA women drop first round NCAA game to Indiana

Georgia head coach Joni Taylor

UGA lost a tough contest against No. 9-seeded Indiana, falling 62-58 on Saturday in the first round of the 2016 NCAA Tournament. Tiaria Griffin and Caliya Robinson led the No. 8 Bulldogs with 18 and 14 points, respectively.

Georgia (21-10) entered the fourth trailing 43-42 when the Hoosiers (22-11,) opened the quarter on a 7-2 run. A three-pointer by Griffin brought Georgia within three, and later the Bulldogs scored five straight points to tie the game 52-52. A Robinson jumper pulled the Bulldogs back within one point with just more than a minute left, but free throws helped the Hoosiers hold on to win in South Bend.

“Just the small details, we just missed out on a couple of those in this game and even in Jacksonville,” Georgia assistant coach Chelsea Newton said. “But it was good for some of our players to get some experience on the floor. Haley Clark, Pachis (Roberts), Caliya (Robinson). They all stepped up big, and I think it’s something we can grow on.”

Here are five observations from the game:

1. Third quarter turnaround

Georgia’s best quarter was its third, as the Bulldogs outscored Indiana 18-15 after previously only scoring 12 points in each of the first two quarters. The Bulldogs shot 10-for-30 in the first half but made eight field goals in the third.

Georgia briefly held a three-point lead in the third, but turnovers and missed opportunities in the final minutes of the game hurt the Bulldogs chances of advancing to the second round for the first time since the 2012-13 season.

2. Failure to get to the line

The Bulldogs made four more field goals than Indiana in the game, but the true story was at the free throw line. The Hoosiers went 16-for-26 from the stripe in the game while Georgia went 1-for-5, failing to make a free throw until the second half.

3. Feeding the Freshman

Robinson has been the X-factor for the Bulldogs all season, and that pattern continued in Saturday’s game. After scoring just two points in the first half, the freshman added on another 12 in the second to go along with eight rebounds and three assists. When Robinson is hot on offense, the Bulldogs play considerably better.

“(Caliya) can do everything,” Newton said. “Inside, outside. She can push in transition. She can block shots. She can do everything, and if she understands that every single possession may make the defense key, knowing her, she’s going to be amazing.”

4. Haley Clark shines

Sophomore guard Haley Clark also played one of her best games this season against the Hoosiers. The Orlando, Fla. native had six points and seven rebounds, making one of the biggest shots of the night to bring the Bulldogs back within two at 56-54 with 2:55 left to go in the game.

5. Bright future ahead

Despite the tough end to the season, the Bulldogs have a lot to look forward to in the near future. Joni Taylor was the only first-year head coach in the tournament, and with a solid group of returning players like Robinson, Roberts and Mackenzie Engram to build around, Georgia could be on the lookout for another great run to the tournament in the future.

“The talent is right there in the state of Georgia, so we’re really trying to hit local and make sure that we knock that 2017 class out,” Newton said. “It’s an amazing class, what we have already. We’re just excited about it. We have key pieces already here, and then to add what we can add in that the junior class will be amazing.”

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