The University of Georgia Lady Bulldog basketball team trailed by just six points at halftime but could not close the deal in the final 20 minutes during a 73-56 loss to Tennessee on Sunday at Thompson-Boling Arena.
Junior guard Maya Caldwell led Georgia with 13 points off a 5-for-12 shooting performance. Tennessee had a balanced effort with four players scoring in double figures, led by Rennia Davis’ 17 points.
“We battled, we played extremely hard and we kept them off the offensive glass for the most part, which was a big part of our game plan,” head coach Joni Taylor said. “The difference in the game is they made shots and we did not. Give Tennessee credit. They hit 8-of-12 from behind the arc, and they are hard to beat when they do that.”
Georgia kept it close in the first half.
After the Lady Bulldogs built an early 5-3 leads thanks to a basket from Jenna Staiti, Tennessee countered with an 8-0 run to take a 12-5 advantage early in the first quarter.
Georgia quickly answered back, hitting five of its final six field goals in the opening period. Following a 3-pointer from Gabby Connally, freshman Jordan Isaacs connected with fellow rookie Javyn Nicholson, who put it in to give the Lady Bulldogs a 20-19 lead at the end of one.
The two teams traded missed baskets and turnovers during a four minute stretch in the second frame. The Lady Vols went 0-for-5 and Georgia went 0-for-6 over that stretch in a close back-and-forth game. Still, the Lady Bulldogs led 24-21 with under five minutes to go before the half.
Tennessee heated up, knocking in their last five shots to build a 35-29 lead at the break. The Lady Vols finished the half with a 54 percent clip from the field, but Georgia scored 11 points off Tennessee turnovers to stay close.
The Lady Vols extended the advantage to their largest of the game at that point in the opening minutes of the third period. Georgia went over two minutes without a field goal, as Lou Brown’s 3-pointer gave her team a 43-34 lead and forced the Lady Bulldogs to call a timeout.
Tennessee’s 12-2 run was quieted by Connally’s 19-foot jumper, but still Tennessee led 47-36. Connally finished with four points in the third and Caldwell hit a big 3-pointer in the period to keep the Lady Vols’ advantage at 53-43 going into the fourth.
Georgia could not get closer. Tennessee hit a flurry of baskets in the final period and hung on for the 73-56 win.
The Lady Bulldogs have a week off before hosting Auburn on Sunday, Feb. 19 at 2 p.m. ET.