Athens, Ga. — Center Jenna Staiti scored 22 points along with nine boards helped the No. 21-ranked Georgia Lady Bulldogs basketball team beat Missouri on Thursday night in Stegeman Coliseum, 74-49.
With the win, the Lady Bulldogs improves to 18-7 on the season and 7-6 in the SEC Conference. The Lady Tigers drops to 16-10, 5-8.
Mizzou shot just 35 percent from the field and 20 percent from behind the arc in the loss. The Lady Bulldogs shot 50% from the field tonight.
“We’ve really put our backs against the wall,” Missouri coach Robin Pingeton said. “It’s not like we don’t have what we need in that locker room. We’ve got the talent.”
Both the Bulldogs and Tigers came into the contest on three-game losing streaks and were looking for a win to regain momentum nearing the end of SEC play. The Tigers couldn’t make any shots in the first half.
Leading scorer Aijha Blackwell due to coaching decisions was on the bench, Missouri had very few bright spots Thursday night.
But one standout performer was sophomore center Jayla Kelly.
With LaDazhia Williams filling in Blackwell’s starting position, Kelly moved into Williams’ role as a player to come off the bench and prove to be huge on the blocks.
“I thought we had a really good performance out of Jayla Kelly, really proud of her minutes,” Missouri coach Robin Pingeton said. “It’s been fun to see her come along for us. But outside of that, I thought we looked pretty exhausted.”
Mikayla Combs drove and bucket kicked off the night for the Lady Bulldogs as they sprinted off to a 7-0 lead. Morrison and Reigan Richardson both drained a three-pointer to help Georgia extend its lead over the Tigers.
An increase pressure on the perimeter at the end of the first quarter ensured a 16-10 lead going into the second.
Richardson extended the Lady Bulldogs lead to open the second quarter as she found some space and hit a long jump shot. Georgia continue to pull away from the Lady Tigers and the Lady Bulldogs entered halftime up 34-23.
Staiti and Richardson combined for 14 points in the third quarter to extend the Georgia lead, and the Lady Bulldogs were up 60-41 through three quarters of play.
“When you’ve lost three in a row, you look at last week and knew it was going to be tough. But that’s the benefit of having a mature team – we could keep things in perspective, move the page, turn the page, and come to work to get better. I think what you saw tonight is because, even when we were going through our losses last week, we had really spirited practices, competitive practices. Everybody was locked in. They’re just continuing to trust the process, so tonight is a result of trusting the process and everybody being locked in.” Georgia coach Joni Taylor said.
Georgia’s defense allowed just eight points in the fourth quarter and closed out their win over the Tigers with ease.
Hayley Frank, Williams, and Kelly scored 10 points apiece and accounted for 30 of the Lady Tigers 39 points in the contest. Kelly’s career-best five boards led the way on the glass with Izzy Higginbottom, Sara-Rose Smith, and Williams each grabbing four. Higginbottom’s effort was a career best and she also chipped in seven points. Smith dished out a career-high four assists, also a team best.
“We’ve got to get out of our own way,” Pingeton said. “The first five minutes. That’s all I’m focused on, let’s win the first five minutes on Sunday. Then we’ll go to the second five minutes. We’re just going to take it one possession at a time.”
Jonni Taylor On Jenna Staiti…
“Obviously, when she’s scoring that way, it becomes difficult for people to stop her. Then, they bring people towards her, so it opens up things for other players. Malury (Bates) played well with her tonight and had some opportunities. Jenna (Staiti) was really good at knowing when to go inside out. When she was on the block and they doubled her, she passed it back out. We were able to get some open shots from our guards. What really was good tonight was she was hitting that jumper, free-throwline, wing jumper. When she’s hitting that shot, it just stretches the defense and puts a lot of pressure on them.”
- Georgia defeated Missouri 74-49 to extend the Bulldogs’ win streak against the Tigers to three. The Bulldogs now hold the overall record between the programs 11-6.
- The Bulldogs opened the game with a 7-0 run.
- In the middle of the first quarter, the Bulldogs held the Tigers to a 3:02 scoring drought.
- To close out the first half, the Lady Dogs went on a 6-0 scoring run while forcing three Missouri turnovers.
- Halfway through the third period, Georgia connected on six consecutive field goals.
- Three Georgia players were in double-digit scoring. Staiti led the team with 22 points, followed by Que Morrison with 12 and Reigan Richardson chipped in with 11.
- The Bulldogs had 18 assists compared to the Tigers’ eight.
- Georgia outrebounded Missouri 41-29. 14 rebounds came on offense while the other 27 were on defense.
- The Lady Dogs scored 18 second-chance points while holding the Tigers to seven.
Georgia travel to play Auburn on Sunday, February 20th at 12:00 p.m. ET/11:00 a.m. CT. Coverage will be on SEC Network.
Missouri return home on Sunday, Feb. 20, taking on Mississippi State at 2 p.m. CT inside Mizzou Arena.