March 2, 2014
ATHENS, Ga.----Lone senior Khaalidah Miller led Georgia past Mississippi State 77-48 in the Lady Bulldogs regular season finale Sunday in Stegeman Coliseum.
The Atlanta native scored 18 points and was joined in double digits by Merritt Hempe, whose 22 points led all scorers and was a career-high, Tiaria Griffin with 16 points and Shacobia Barbee with 10. Barbee led the team on the boards with 7 rebounds while Krista Donald led the team in assists, dishing four scoring passes.
"We had to do a better job at the four and the five. I thought we did that, with the exception of the fouls. We had some totally unnecessary fouls that allowed their four and five and some of their guards to get to the free throw line. But defensively we, for the most part, were where we needed to be, doing what we needed to do," Georgia head coach Andy Landers said. All in all it was a terrific defensive effort that led to some teriffic offense. Excellent shooting, excellent ball movement and excellent sharing of the ball. What a terrific way for Khaalidah Miller to finish her home career."
Smothering defense and one of the most efficient offensive showings of the season allowed the Lady Bulldogs to open up a double digit lead midway through the first half and extended that advantage to nearly 30 points at the half time buzzer.
Miller appeared set to enjoy her final appearance in Stegeman Coliseum as the senior scored five of Georgia's 13 points as the home side opened up an early lead with a 13-0 run from 19:21 remaining in the first half until the 14:47 mark.
On the defensive end of the court Georgia's early dominance was highlight in forcing three Mississippi State turnovers in the first five minutes of action. Another steal by Girffin led to the Mississippi native racing the length of the court and opening up the Lady Bulldogs lead to double digits at the 13:41 mark.
The Lady Bulldog lead continued to grow and hit the 20 point mark with 8:16 left to play on a beautiful dime by Barbee who found Halle Washington underneath the basket to complete the move with a simple layup.
Miller continued her impressive 16 first half minutes at the very last second as she nailed a deep 3-pointer to push the Lady Bulldogs to a 19 point lead, their largest lead of the game at that point.
Miller led Georgia in the first half with 13 points with Hempe chipping in another 10. Barbee has five rebounds in the first stanza while as a time Georgia collected 12 steals. Barbee, Krista Donald and Griffin had three each. The Lady Bulldogs shot 57.1 percent from the floor in the first period.
While the Lady Bulldogs second half was not as dominant as the first, they continued to maintain the advantage from the first period with the lead never falling below 25 points.
While Mississippi State was able to become more effective offensively, Georgia offensive performance continued to ensure they stayed well out of reach of the visitors. Miller's brilliant final home performance continued in the second stanza until she was taken out to a standing ovation with 4:55 left in the game.
The second half eventually became a tick-for-tack performance with both teams managing to answer each other's scores with buckets at the other end of the court. The Lady Bulldogs found themselves in the double bonus early in the second stanza and would go on to shoot 11-of-12 from the charity stripe.
Georgia's largest lead of the game came with 4:52 left in the game.
Hempe led the home team in the second period as she notched 12 points. Washington and Griffin led the team in the final 20 minutes with 3 rebounds apiece.
Georgia returns to action in the Southeastern Conference Tournament which will be hosted in Duluth, Ga., at The Arena at Gwinnett Center. The tournament will run from March 5-9 with the seeds set to be finalized Sunday night at the completion of SEC regular season play.