Lady Dawg NCAA Notebook - Game 1

PHILADELPHIA -- Christi Thomas, Georgia's All-SEC center, had no illusions about defending Liberty's Katie Feenstra on Saturday. <p> "Once they get it in there, she's going to shoot it over me," the 6-foot-5 Thomas said of the 6-foot-8 Feenstra.

With that in mind, the Lady Bulldogs concentrated on keeping the ball out of Feenstra's hands. The strategy worked as Feenstra, the nation's sixth-leading scorer (21.5 ppg), finished with just eight points on 10 shots.

"We knew we had to pressure the ball to make sure it didn't get to the tall girl," Georgia's Cori Chambers said. "What's her name?"

By the end of Georgia's 78-53 victory over the Lady Flames, it was surprisingly easy to forget. Feenstra, who took only one shot in the first half due to foul trouble, was held to single digits in scoring for just the second time this season. She shot 40 percent from the floor, which is a poor showing considering she entered the game as the nation's most accurate shooter (66.6 percent).

Liberty coach Carey Green pointed out that Feenstra had a fever on Thursday and Friday and wasn't at full strength against Georgia.

"She's a better ball player than that," he said. "I expect more from her than what she showed tonight, but under the circumstances, I have to compliment Georgia and Katie's effort."

Georgia's strategy worked on all the Lady Flames' post players, who took just five shots in the first half.

Feenstra tried to head home on a positive note.

"I can learn a lot from Christi Thomas and how she plays," she said. "Hopefully, I can go away from this not just hanging my head from the loss but learning something I can take into my game next year."

LIVE TO FIGHT ANOTHER DAY: Georgia junior Ebony Felder should be available for Monday night's game against TCU, thanks to the Lady Bulldogs' big margin of victory on Saturday.

"I told our kids before the game, if they cared anything about Ebony, they would play in such a manner that we didn't need her today because, I feel like if she had played today, she wouldn't be able to walk Monday," Coach Andy Landers said.

Felder has battled serious injuries since coming to Athens. Her current problem is in her left knee, which she aggravated in the SEC Tournament. She has provided a spark for the Lady Bulldogs when at times (totaling 25 points against Florida and Tennessee in the SEC Tournament) but her health allows her only to play in spurts.

Landers almost put Felder in the game in the first half while the Lady Bulldogs were struggling but changed his mind during a TV timeout.

"I was able to think it through it a little bit," he said.

WARDROBE MALFUNCTION: Somewhere between Lynchburg, Va., and Philadelphia, Feenstra's usual No. 44 jersey got lost so the junior wore her older sister's former number, 45, against Georgia.

"Maribeth was happy to know that I was going to wear her jersey tonight," Feenstra said. "I told her last night and she was pumped."

UNFAIR ADVANTAGE?: Rev. Jerry Falwell, the chancellor of Liberty, attended Saturday's game and gave the Lady Flames a pre-game pep talk.

"I thought we were in trouble today when Dr. Falwell walked in," Landers said. "There was some praying going on in that other locker room. I know, we could hear it."

The presence of the nationally known pastor did nothing to discourage the Flames' fan base from heckling officials and Georgia players throughout the game.

BAKER'S BLOCK: Midway through the second half, 5-foot-8 Georgia guard Sherrill Baker blocked the shot of 6-8 Feenstra, much to the delight of Baker's teammates.

"When I came to the bench, my teammates asked me, ‘Did you block it or did you foul her?'" Baker said. "If the ref didn't call it, I guess it was a block."

THIS AND THAT: Baker had a career-high 10 rebounds, and Georgia's guards combined for 20 rebounds. ... Liberty assistant coach Chris Carroll is a graduate of Athens Christian School and the University of Georgia. ... The game was stopped twice due shot-clock malfunctions.


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