UGA Basketball

Lady Bulldogs unable to overcome shooting woes in NCAA Tournament second-round loss

Georgia's Haley Clark puts up a shot against Duke's Faith Suggs during the second round of the NCAA Touranment.
Georgia's Haley Clark puts up a shot against Duke's Faith Suggs during the second round of the NCAA Touranment. AP

It wasn't that Georgia couldn't get good looks at the basket.

It was just that the fourth-seeded Lady Bulldogs could not get the basketball fall through the hoop often during its second-round matchup against fifth-seeded Duke. As a result, the Blue Devils were able to advance to the Sweet 16 with a 66-40 win.

Duke forward Leaonna Odom led the way with 16 points.

The Lady Bulldogs made only 23.5 percent of their shots, which was a season low. The 40 points scored was also a season low. The last time Georgia shot this poorly in an NCAA Tournament game was on March 27, 2010 in the Sweet 16. In that game, the Lady Bulldogs made only 20.3 percent of their shots in a 73-36 loss to Stanford.

"Obviously it's a disappointment and I didn't want to go out that way," senior forward Mackenzie Engram said.

Georgia's shooting woes, however, didn't begin early as it opened the first 10 minutes by making five of 14 shot attempts.

But it was at the start of the second quarter, with Georgia trailing 15-12, when its offensive woes began.

The Lady Bulldogs (26-7) missed their first 13 consecutive shots of the period before getting a layup from guard Que Morrison at the 2:34 mark. Those two points were the only ones Georgia put on the scoreboard in the second quarter.

"It's very frustrating, especially when normally those shots do fall," Taylor said. "We're missing layups, we're missing free throws. We're missing a lot of jumpers. At that point, when you see that happen, you have to continue to instill confidence in them and hope that it gets turned around. The sad part about that is when you play a team of Duke's caliber you just cannot have a quarter like that."

In total, the Lady Bulldogs made only one of its 19 shot attempts in the second quarter, which helped give Duke a 35-14 halftime lead. At the end of the first half, Georgia made only six of its 33 shots. Included were two missed layups toward the end of the second period.

Engram said that the second quarter's scoring drought also played a role in Georgia's confidence.

"I think that played with our minds a little bit and we started second guessing things," Engram said. "We just never could get it back under us."

Georgia had plenty of chances to score points too. It forced 21 turnovers and blocked seven shots as a team.

"We haven't been in a situation a lot where we struggled that bad offensively," Taylor said. "When we do, we have to anchor down even more on the defensive end on the floor and not have those lapses."

Georgia only saw one player score in double figures, with Caliya Robinson scoring 11 points.

The Lady Bulldogs, which entered the day shooting the 3-pointer at a 30.7 percent clip, made only one of its 17 attempts from behind the arc. The lone 3-pointer came from Simone Costa, who made her perimeter basket with 4:42 left in the game. Conversely, Duke (24-8) made four of its 11 3-point shots.

The free-throw line wasn't too kind either as Georgia sank only seven of its 14 free-throw attempts.

After the game, both Engram and senior guard Haley Clark were emotional, given it was the last game of their careers. Georgia's seniors were all allowed to exit the court for a final time as the final moments ticked down.

"When I first came off, I think it was under a minute left, Coach Joni just hugged me and said, 'I love you.' I said, 'I love you too,'" Clark said. "We just lived in the moment. I'm super proud of this team and how far we've come. It was an 'I love you' moment despite the situation."

Said Engram: "I'm not sad that we lost. I'm sad I'll never get to play with (Clark) again, and I'm sad that this is the last time putting Georgia on my chest. I'm so proud of what we've done."

Heading to the Sweet 16, Duke will take on Connecticut in Albany, New York. The top-seeded Huskies defeated No. 9 seed Quinnipiac 71-49 to set up the matchup Saturday.

The loss ends Georgia's season, which saw it host and win an NCAA Tournament game for the first time since 2013.

In between the first and second quarters, Georgia brought out newly-hired men's basketball coach Tom Crean to mid-court to greet the fans in attendance. Crean also stopped by 30 minutes prior to tip-off to meet and sign autographs for fans in the Stegeman Coliseum concourse.

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