Erika Ford poured in a career-high 23 points to lead four Lady Bulldogs in double figures as Georgia rallied past Florida, 68-62, at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center on Sunday afternoon.
Khaalidah Miller added 13 points, Shacobia Barbee chipped in 12 and Krista Donald added 10 for Georgia (14-5, 2-4 SEC). Jaterra Bonds paced Florida (13-5, 3-2 SEC) with 16 points.
The Lady Bulldogs outscored the Gators 15-9 in the game’s waning moments.
“We talked about that with about two-three minutes remaining,” head coach Andy Landers said. “We’ve been in that position before. We’ve been in that position in our first two SEC road games at Vanderbilt and Missouri. Both of those were winnable games but we didn’t play well enough down the stretch. Today, hopefully, we grew up some.”
Georgia, which ranks last in the SEC in free throw percentage, shot a season-best 88.9 percent from the charity stripe. The Lady Bulldogs connected on 16-of-18 free throws, including 11-of-12 in the final 5:34 after the game was tied 53-53.
“It’s about time,” Landers quippped. “We’re a good free throw shooting team in practice. We just haven’t trusted our stroke in games. It was nice to see us step up with confidence and shoot them like we seem to do in practice on a regular basis.”
Georgia rallied from a halftime deficit for the fourth time this season to improve to 4-3 in those contests. In fact, the Lady Bulldogs trailed the entire first half on Sunday.
Florida scored the game’s first seven points over the opening 1:25 and maintained a comfortable lead for most of the remainder of the period.
“Florida jumped us and we didn’t really respond well,” Landers said.
The Gators pushed their advantage to double figures for the first time 22-12 on a Bonds layup at the 7:32 mark. A putback by Halle Washington and a 3-pointer by Donald closed the gap to 24-20 at the 2:30 mark, but Florida responded quickly and pushed the lead to 30-20 just 44 seconds later. The Lady Bulldogs scored the final four points of the period and entered the locker room trailing 30-24.
Georgia got within two points four times in the second half before finally knotting the score at 43-43 on a Donald jumper with 10:52 left. Florida regained a 47-43 lead 1:22 later before a Barbee layup and a Miller 3-pointer game the Lady Bulldogs their first lead at 49-48.
The lead changed hands three times, lastly on a Ford layup at the 7:26 mark that put Georgia up 50-49. The Gators tied the score at 53-53 before Merritt Hempe hit two free throws to open the Lady Bulldogs’ decisive surge.
The Lady Bulldogs will enjoy an update this Thursday before traveling to Tuscaloosa next Sunday to face Alabama at 3:00 p.m. in a CSS regionally televised match-up.
Georgia’s next home date will be on Jan. 30 when the Lady Bulldogs host No. 10 Kentucky at 9:00 p.m. That game will air on SportsSouth and has been dubbed “Stay Up Past Your Bedtime Night.” The first 500 fans in attendance will receive Georgia teddy bears, the first 300 kids will receive Georgia pillow cases and the first 300 UGA students will receive “Beat Kentucky” t-shirts.
Single-game reserved seat tickets for Lady Bulldog games are $5 for adults and $3 for children. UGA students, faculty and staff are admitted to all Lady Bulldog games free of charge with a valid UGA Card. Faculty and staff should pick up tickets at the Coliseum box office. Students are admitted to the arena via the entrance to the left of the box office by showing their UGA Card.
Single-game tickets are on sale via georgiadogs.com, by calling 877-542-1231 or in person at the UGA Ticket Office in the Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall from 8:30-4:30 on weekdays. In addition, single-game tickets go on sale at the Stegeman Coliseum box office (closest to Sanford Drive) beginning 60 minutes before tip-off of every home game.
• Georgia’s starting five was Marjorie Butler, Khaalidah Miller, Shacobia Barbee, Krista Donald and Merritt Hempe, the seventh different lineup the Lady Bulldogs have used in 19 games this season.
• Erika Ford finished with 23 points, her eighth double-digit output this season and 17th of her career.
• Erika Ford equaled her career high of 23 points also established against South Carolina State on Nov. 26 this season.
• Erika Ford now has two 20-point games this season and three in her career.
• Khaalidah Miller finished with 13 points, her 13th double-figure game this season and 62nd of her career.
• Shacobia Barbee finished with 12 points, her 12th double-digit performance this season and 21st of her career.
• Krista Donald finished with 10 points, her 10th double-figure contest this season and 14th of her career.
All photos are copyrighted property of Sonny Kennedy Photography,