Behind a career-high 14 points from senior guard Haley Clark, the 20th-ranked Georgia Lady Bulldogs basketball team won its sixth-straight game this season with a 62-50 win against No. 11 Missouri Thursday evening at Stegeman Coliseum.
With an 18-2 overall record, Georgia is off to its best start since 2009-10 and has won six-straight SEC games for the first time since the 2010-11 campaign. The Lady Bulldogs, now 6-1 in SEC play, did it with defense, holding Missouri (17-3, 5-2) to its lowest point total and field-goal percentage (27.6 percent) of the season. Georgia also forced 18 Tiger turnovers, matching Missouri’s most in conference play, and second-highest on the season.
“That was one of our keys for the game,” Georgia head coach Joni Taylor said. “They are very talented offensively but we thought that we could bother them with our defensive pressure. (sophomore guard) Taja Cole and (freshman guard) Gabby Connally set the tone and made it really difficult for them.”
In addition to her career-high 14 points, Clark added seven rebounds and three assists. Joining Clark was freshman Que Morrison, who led the team with 17 points (7-for-13) and recorded her sixth double-digit scoring output of her career.
“Every night it is a different player and that is the beauty of this team,” Taylor said. “That is what I appreciate, everyone is ready to go. All of their buckets are huge and everyone answers the call every time.”
Junior forward Caliya Robinson also registered her fourth double-double in the last five games with 13 points and 11 rebounds. The conference leader in blocks also provided three on defense. The Lady Bulldogs blitzed the Tigers with six quick points in the first minute of the contest and never trailed in all 40 minutes.
Clark drilled a jumper to open the game, and made a block on the other end of the floor that set up her own layup on the following Georgia possession. Cole made a no-look dish to Robinson for two more, forcing a Missouri timeout. Though Missouri recovered out of the stoppage, the Lady Bulldogs kept up their offensive pace.
Clark and Morrison combined for six points each in the first period, and Cole hit a shot off the window to give Georgia a 19-13 lead at the end of the quarter. The Lady Bulldogs maintained their lead until the 1:18 mark in the second quarter, when Missouri tied the score at 27. Right afterwards, Clark nailed a jump shot to regain the lead. In the final minute, Morrison took a charge to regain possession and senior forward Mackenzie Engram drained a 3-pointer to close out the half at 32-27.
The first half also featured a valiant defensive effort by the Lady Bulldogs, as Georgia held the Missouri offense — which entered the game shooting 47 percent from the field — to a 32 percent shooting clip with 27 points, the Tigers’ second-lowest halftime total in SEC play.
Morrison poured in three buckets in the third quarter before Georgia began the fourth frame in a fashion similar to the first: with six unanswered points, putting the Lady Bulldogs up 46-39. The half-a-dozen points kicked off a 12-5 run, capped by layups from Engram, Robinson and Clark. In the final 90 seconds, Georgia extended its lead from the charity line, with eight of its last points coming from Clark, Cole, Morrison and Robinson free throws to seal the 62-50 final.
With the win, Georgia has four wins over teams that went to the 2017 NCAA Tournament. Tonight’s victory marks the eighth against teams with 20+ wins last season that made postseason play. The Lady Bulldogs now sit alone in second place in the SEC behind conference leader Mississippi State.
Next up, Georgia travels to Gainesville, Florida, to face Florida on Sunday, Jan. 28, at the Exactech Center. The game will be broadcast on the SEC Network Plus with tipoff set for 2 p.m. ET.