The No. 11 Georgia Lady Bulldogs held off a late rally by Vanderbilt and closed the regular season with a 55-50 victory over the Commodores on Sunday afternoon at Stegeman Coliseum.
Georgia (24-5, 12-4 SEC) was led by senior Jasmine Hassell, who scored 16 points and pulled down six rebounds in her final game at Stegeman. Classmate Jasmine James put up 10 points and dished out a game-high five assists. Krista Donald tied Hassell for team-high rebounding honors with six boards. Shacobia Barbee contributed nine points and a game-high four steals.
Vanderbilt (19-10, 9-7 SEC) was led by Jasmine Lister and Tiffany Clarke, who scored 17 and 13 points, respectively.
“We played well today,” said head coach Andy Landers. “We just did what we needed to do today. I thought we showed an awful lot of terrific discipline, both defensively and offensively. We stayed on the floor, we stayed between them and the bucket, we avoided screens, we didn’t give up three-pointers and we did what we needed to do. Everything that we had talked about doing, we came out and did, and it was a beautiful thing.”
Vanderbilt took an early lead off a pair of free throws and eventually stretched their advantage to 8-4 three minutes into the game. Tiaria Griffin connected from behind the arc to spark a 7-2 Georgia spurt that gave the Lady Bulldogs their first lead of the game, 11-10. With just under 13 minutes on the clock, the Commodores tied the game at 13-13. Georgia then embarked on a 12-2 run and never looked back. The surge resulted in a 25-15 Georgia lead with less than five minutes remaining in the period. The final minutes of the first half were fairly well-matched, and Georgia entered the break with a 27-18 lead. The Lady Bulldogs were bolstered in the first half by Hassell’s 12 points.
Vanderbilt matched Georgia basket-for-basket during the first 11 minutes of the second period. The most consecutive points scored by either team in the first 11 minutes came in the two-minute stretch leading up to the 15 minute mark. The Commodores connected on back-to-back jumpers before the Lady Bulldogs answered with a layup and a trey to bring the score to 38-26 and give Georgia its largest lead of the game to that point. With 10:25 left on the clock, the Commodores started to rally, scoring five unanswered and pulling within 42-37, the closest they had been since midway through the first half.
Erika Ford scored on back-to-back possessions to halt the Vanderbilt run and put Georgia back up 46-37. A Vanderbilt free throw interrupted the Lady Bulldogs, but it didn’t stop their momentum. Georgia eventually stretched its lead to 50-38 with under four minutes left in the contest. Vanderbilt’s Jasmine Lister scored a quick four points around the one minute mark, allowing the Commodores to pull within 52-46. With 30 seconds on the clock, Anne Marie Armstrong was unable to connect from the free throw line, giving Vanderbilt the ball again. A jumper by Morgan Batey led to the Commodores to further dig into the Lady Bulldogs’ lead, 52-48. A full-court, in-bounds pass from Armstrong to James put Georgia back up by six. The Commodores refused to give up and hit another jumper with 12 seconds remaining and pulled within four once again. A Vanderbilt foul put Barbee at the line with six ticks on the clock, where she connected on the first of two free throws, pushing the score to 55-50 and clinching the win for the Lady Bulldogs.
Georgia will return to action at the SEC Tournament March 6-10 at Gwinnett Arena in Duluth, Georgia. The Lady Bulldogs will be either the No. 2 or No. 3 seed.
Follow Danny Bishop on Twitter @DBishop101