Wild Ride Takes Lady Dogs to Title Tilt
Lady Dogs Claim SEC Crown; Dominate Post-Season Teams
Georgia raced to its second straight Southeastern Conference title in the nation's premier women's basketball league last season, compiling an impressive 11-1 record. Individually, La'Keshia Frett, Tracy Henderson and Kedra Holland-Corn all were named first-team All-SEC by league coaches, the first time three classmates from the same school have done so.
The Lady Bulldogs won their last nine SEC games by an average of 17.1 points. Included in that tally were victories over four Top 20 teams in the final two weeks of the regular season - No. 13 LSU, No. 12 Vanderbilt, No. 10 Florida and No. 20 Arkansas.
Georgia has now compiled a 21-2 record in SEC play over the past two years in winning the fifth and sixth titles in school history, the most SEC championships any conference school can claim.
Seniors Assault Georgia Career Statistical Leaders Lists
The Lady Bulldogs' celebrated Class of '97 certainly left its mark in the Georgia record books for years to come as each of the six seniors finished ranked among the school's Top 10 career leaders in one or more major statistical categories.
La'Keshia Frett led the way, staking her claim in four stats. Frett presently ranks No. 4 in scoring (1,850), No. 6 in rebounds (842), No. 6 in blocked shots (85) and No. 8 in assists (315). She fell just 11 steals shy of the No. 10 position on that career list, which would have made her the only player to etch her name in those five stats.
Tracy Henderson finished her career as a Lady Bulldog at No. 2 in career blocked shots (267) -behind only Katrina McClain - No. 6 in scoring (1,764) and No. 7 in rebounding (824).
Kedra Holland-Corn enjoyed the most dramatic movement on the career lists during the 1997 campaign, climbing from No. 17 to No. 8 in scoring (1,566) and from No. 11 to No. 3 in steals (302). She also shattered the Georgia three-point field goal mark, nailing 253 shots from behind the three-point arc.
Rachel Powell improved to the No. 3 position all-time in both assists (436) and three-point field goals made (174).
Brandi Decker rejected her way to No. 7 among career blocked shot leaders (59).
Tiffany Walker, who missed almost the entire 1996 campaign due to a knee injury, still reached the No. 10 position for career rebounds (594).
Landers Claims 500th Career Win
The Lady Dogs' Dec. 2 win over Middle Tennessee State gave Andy Landers his 500th victory as a collegiate head coach.
"This is the truth...I don't even know the numbers on our players' jerseys," Landers joked after the game. "If you think for one minute that I've kept a tally of how many wins I've got, you're mistaken. Somebody else has got to tell me those types of things."
Landers, the only full-time women's basketball coach in Georgia history, has compiled a 442-130 mark in 18 seasons in Athens. That averages out to 24.6 wins per year at Georgia, the third-best total among all Division I women's head coaches with as much tenure.
From 1975-79, Landers was 82-21 in four seasons at Roane State Community (Junior) College in Harriman, Tenn., which included two national Top 10 finishes.
Lady Bulldogs Face a Record 16 Top 25 Teams During Season
Georgia faced one of the nation's most difficult schedules during the 1997 season, including a school-record 16 opponents ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 at game time. The Lady Bulldogs compiled an impressive 11-5 record in those contests.
Georgia defeated, in succession, No. 12 Virginia, No. 4 Tennessee, No. 19 Wisconsin, No. 22 Penn State, No. 18 Auburn, No. 13 Florida, No. 13 LSU, No. 12 Vanderbilt, No. 10 Florida, No. 20 Arkansas and No. 20 Vanderbilt.
However, the Lady Bulldogs suffered setbacks to No. 24 Clemson, No. 5 Louisiana Tech, No. 5 Alabama, No. 1 Connecticut and No. 3 Stanford. The rankings listed are from AP Poll current on the day of the game.
Georgia Climbs to No. 6 in All-Time AP Women's Hoops Poll
By virtue of finishing No. 6 in the final Associated Press poll for the 1997 season, Georgia's Lady Bulldogs climbed from the No. 8 spot to a tie for the No. 6 position in the all-time AP women's basketball poll.
The poll is tabulated by compiling the final AP rankings for the 21 years that the news service has produced a women's basketball poll. Points are calculated by the same method utilized during the season - 25 pts. for 1st in a final poll, 24 for 2nd, etc.
That continues a steady ascent the Lady Bulldogs have enjoyed in the all-time poll over the past three seasons. With a No. 12 finish in the final 1995 poll, Georgia moved from No. 12 to No. 9 all-time, surpassing Southern Cal, Auburn and Stephen F. Austin. Two years ago, Georgia finished No. 5 in the final AP rankings, inching up from No. 9 to No. 8 past N.C. State. Last season, the Lady Dogs climbed over Penn State to tie Maryland for the No. 6 position.
Georgia has appeared in 13 final AP polls, including 10 Top 10 finishes during the last 15 years. In fact, from Nov. 18, 1983-Dec. 20, 1987, the Lady Dogs ranked among the nation's Top 15 teams every week. Georgia was ranked in the Top 5 during 41 weeks of that 87-week span of polls.
All-Time Associated Press Top 10
- 1. Tennessee 438
- 2. Louisiana Tech 378
- 3. Texas 298
- 4. Old Dominion 234
- 5. Long Beach St. 228
- 6. Georgia 221
- Maryland 221
- 8. Penn State 215
- 9. Stanford 200
- Virginia 200
Georgia's victory over Vanderbilt on Valentine's Day and the Lady Dogs' win over the 'Dores in the NCAA "Sweet 16" marked UGA's 20th and 25th triumphs of the season, respectively.
That signified the 15th time in Andy Landers' 18 campaigns in Athens that Georgia has reached the 20-win plateau, and the 11th time the Lady Bulldogs have garnered 25 victories or more.
After a 16-12 finish by Landers' first team at Georgia in 1979-80, the Lady Dogs won 20 or more games for 11 straight seasons before a 19-11 effort during 1991-92. The only other non 20-win team Landers has coached in Athens was the 1993-94 squad when, with last year's senior class serving as the nucleus, Georgia struggled to a 17-11 mark before winning 28 games each of the next two seasons.
Those two non-20 win teams were also the only Georgia units under Landers which did not earn a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
"Big Three" Reunited, Score 298 To Opps 299 in Stretch Run to SEC Championship
When Tracy Henderson returned to action in February (from a kidney infection which hospitalized her for nearly a week in late January), the Lady Dogs showed why they were regarded as one of the nation's toughest teams to defend.
Georgia's "Big Three" combo of Henderson inside, Kedra Holland-Corn outside and La'Keshia Frett pretty much anywhere in between opens up numerous offensive options.
Versus Kentucky, they "triple-handedly" outscored the Wildcats 64-62 while connecting on 26-of-35 shots from the floor, a sizzling 74.3 percent.
Against No. 13 LSU, Henderson equaled her season-high scoring output with 25 points. The trio totaled 63 points against the Lady Tigers, two shy of LSU's offensive output for the evening. Versus No. 12 Vanderbilt, Frett, Henderson and Holland-Corn outscored the Commodores 27-16 in the first half. For the game, the "Big Three" piled up 51 points to Vanderbilt's 45.
In Gainesville, Fla., it was Holland-Corn taking the lead with 29 of the trio's 60 points, including the game-winner on a driving lay-up with 5.5 seconds left versus the No. 10 Lady Gators.
In the regular-season finale against No. 20 Arkansas, Henderson scored 24 points, Frett 21 and Holland-Corn 15 as the Lady Dogs' mainstays helped Georgia clinch its second straight SEC Championship.
More impressive than the mere scoring output, the trio completed the same stretch by shooting a sterling 118-of-202 (.584) from the field while their opponents shot 112-of-300 (.373).
"Big Three" In The Final Five
Kedra Holland-Corn, Pam Irwin Named SEC Players of the Week
Kedra Holland-Corn and Pam Irwin were selected as the Southeastern Conference's Player of the Week on Dec. 9 and Feb. 3, respectively. Holland-Corn was also tabbed as the National Player of the Week on Dec. 11.
Versus No. 12 Virginia, Holland-Corn poured in a game-high 24 points and collected 10 steals. That theft total equaled the Georgia single-game record.
For an encore Holland-Corn scored a career-high 30 points in the win at No. 4 Tennessee. Included in that tally was a three-pointer with 11.9 seconds left in OT which not only sealed the win but also made her the most prolific three-point shooter in school history with 190 treys.
In the first three starts of her collegiate career, Irwin capitalized by averaging 20.7 points and hitting 63.2 percent of her shots from the floor.
Irwin received her first career start against Georgia State on January 27 when Andy Landers benched his traditional five senior starters and responded with career-highs of 26 points and eight assists. Two days later, she exploded for 25 more points - 17 in the first half against No. 13 Florida. Irwin scored 11 against South Carolina to round out the week.