Jan. 15, 2011
ATHENS, Ga. --- The sixth-ranked Georgia gymnastics team led through three rotations, but were narrowly edged by No. 3 Utah on the final one, falling by a score of 195.900-195.800 Saturday afternoon in the first meet inside Stegeman Coliseum in 2011.
The loss snapped Georgia's 34-meet unbeaten streak at home as the Gym Dogs now stand at 3-1 on the season. The Utes improve to 2-0 after defeating defending national champions UCLA on the opening weekend.
Georgia improved its scores on three events from week one's totals, in addition to its overall score by 0.225.
"We know that we could have won the meet and that all we had to do was go into the final rotation and be average and we could have come out of here with a win," said head coach Jay Clark. "Those are the things we walk away from this with, but we have to have a short memory because we go again Monday. West Virginia is a solid team and they have improved tremendously. It's just frustrating because you see opportunities for your team to put themselves at a different level of the conversation."
"I was encouraged with what we did on beam," Clark added. "We had some mistakes, but they handled it. That showed a lot of maturity. The two seniors tonight did a great job of steadying the ship when things weren't going like we wanted them to. There are things that can be corrected and it's early in the season. We are going to get better and we have a team that can contend. We just have to stop shooting ourselves in the foot."
The Gym Dogs got a career-high 9.925 from freshman Lindsey Cheek to highlight a solid showing on vault. Behind Cheek's record performance, sophomore Noel Couch scored a 9.850 and rookie Cat Hires also posted the best vault score of her short career with a 9.775. Senior Cassidy McComb matched that score, helping Georgia to a 49.075 on the first event. Utah posted a 49.050 on their first rotation - bars - to give the Gym Dogs the slight edge through one.
On their second event, Georgia junior Gina Nuccio tied her career high with a 9.925, followed by a 9.875 from classmate Kat Ding and a 9.825 from sophomore Shayla Worley in the anchor position to give the Gym Dogs a 49.200 on the event. Coupled with Utah's 49.125 on the vault, Georgia's lead increased to one-tenth at 98.275-98.175 at the midway point.
With beam for its third rotation, the Gym Dogs got matching 9.850s from their Nos. 5 and 6 performers, Worley and McComb, while the freshman Cheek continued her impressive day with a 9.825. Georgia concluded the event with a 48.925, which matched up with the Utes' 48.725 on floor to bump the margin to a 147.200-146.900 Georgia advantage. After three rotations last weekend at Denver, Georgia owned a 146.600, good for more than half a point improvement.
Georgia's last stop was floor, which was highlighted by a strong No. 5 performance from McComb, who tied her career-high with a 9.925. Behind her, Georgia's next highest scores were a 9.750 from Mauro and a 9.700 from Worley to round out the event with Georgia looking at a 48.600. With a solid 49.000 on beam, their third score of 49 or better on the day, the Utes did just enough to take the lead, sealing the slim win over the Gym Dogs to snap that home streak of either wins or ties that dated back to Feb. 18, 2005.
McComb ended with the all-around title with a 39.350, followed by Utah's Stephanie McAllister with a 39.300. Nuccio claimed the bars title for Georgia, while Worley and McComb split the beam title with Utah's Mary Beth Lofgren. McComb also claimed the floor title to cap a three-win day for the senior.
"This hurts, but we can only build from here," McComb said. "No one ever wants to lose and it's hard, but you have to learn the hard way sometimes. We just wanted to hit a complete meet and hit one event at a time. It's something that you can't explain because it's not a time vibe or anything. It's just something you can't explain."
The Gym Dogs are now 24-22-1 all-time vs. Utah, which boasts nine NCAA championships to its name behind Georgia's 10.
Today's meet will be aired on a tape delay basis on CSS, first shown on Jan. 23 at noon ET and again on Jan. 25 at 10 p.m.
The Gym Dogs won't rest for long, as they remain at home to host West Virginia on Monday. The meet is set for 2 p.m. and will be aired on tape delay by CSS.