UGA defeated No. 22 Florida 74-63 Sunday in Stegeman Coliseum, giving the Bulldogs their fifth win over a ranked team this season. Senior Tiaria Griffin led the team with 28 points and eight rebounds, followed by fellow senior Shacobia Barbee with 20 points and eight rebounds.
The Bulldogs (20-7, 8-6 SEC) outscored Florida (20-7, 8-6 SEC) 24-14 in the third quarter, giving them a huge advantage heading into the fourth. The final quarter started off with foul trouble from the Bulldogs, but eventually Georgia jumped out to 13-point lead with help from Griffin’s three 3-pointers for a score of 60-47.
Florida answered with a 7-0 run to bring the score within six with 4:53 remaining in the game, but a fourth 3-pointer by Griffin stopped the run and helped the Bulldogs hold on for the victory.
“I think it was just special for it to be senior night against Florida,” Griffin said. “It was definitely a game that we should’ve won and were supposed to (have) won.”
Here are five observations from the game:
1. Crucial third quarter
The Bulldogs followed up their low-scoring second quarter with a crucial offensive performance in the third. After heading into halftime down 32-27, Georgia responded in the third with a 9-0 run, with seven of those points coming from Barbee.
Georgia’s run led to a scoring drought for Florida that lasted nearly five minutes. The Bulldogs went 9-for-16 in the quarter for 56.3 percent, compared to Florida’s 35.7 percent (5-for-14).
“We kind of struggled with the ball screens in the first half, but then we came out after halftime and we executed on offense and defense, so I think we pulled it together,” Griffin said.
2. Barbee and Griffin shine
Barbee and Griffin shined in the second half, taking turns going on offensive hot streaks. Barbee opened the third quarter with ten points in the first four minutes, followed by Griffin’s eight points in the quarter.
After Barbee went down in the fourth quarter with an ankle sprain, Griffin helped rally the team, scoring 14 more points, including four 3-pointers and two free throws.
“For Tiaria, I don’t know what it is about Florida, but she just always plays well against them. I was glad to see her do that,” Georgia coach Joni Taylor said. “(Shacobia) does so much for our team, and it doesn’t always show up in the points column. It shows up in steals and assists and rebounds, and she guards the other team’s best player every single night, so for her to have the offensive performance that she had today, I was really happy for her.”
Fifty-six of Georgia’s 72 points came from its seniors during Sunday’s senior night. In addition to Griffin and Barbee’s combined 48 points, fellow seniors Merritt Hempe pitched in six points and eight rebounds, and Marjorie Butler added two points and seven assists.
3. Foul trouble
The Bulldogs experienced foul trouble in the second half, getting into the bonus early in the fourth quarter. The Bulldogs sent Florida to the line 17 times in the game, with the Gators making 11 of their attempts for 65 percent.
Georgia had 24 trips to the line Sunday, but missed ten of its attempts, ending the night with a 58-percent effort from the stripe.
“Our thing was, regardless of what we feel how the calls are going, do your job,” Taylor said. “Play great defense. Guard the ball screens the way you’re supposed to. Box out and rebound, and then we won’t have an issue.”
4. Points off turnovers
Turnovers were also an issue in the game for both teams. Georgia had 21 turnovers in the contest, which led to 18 points for the Gators. On the other hand, the Bulldogs were able to convert Florida’s 18 turnovers into 16 points.
5. Important win
Sunday’s win was Georgia’s second against Florida and its third straight against the Gators overall, giving Taylor her 20th win in her first season as head coach.
“I didn’t know it was her 20th win, but that is a huge milestone for her,” Butler said. “I don’t know how many first year coaches can say that, especially in conferences like this. She’s one of a kind, and it’s a huge accomplishment for her.
The Bulldogs will face Arkansas in their final home game of the season Thursday at 7 p.m. ET