Georgia Defeats Lady Bulldogs, 76-71

ATHENS, Ga. (AP) -- It took No. 17 Georgia 30 minutes to build a 10-point lead on No. 12 Mississippi State Thursday night.<P> It took Mississippi State a little over a minute to erase it.

State's aggressive defense temporarily paralyzed Georgia, turning a double-digit lead into a nail-biter ultimately settled by free throws in the final minutes.

Christi Thomas scored 22 points in 21 minutes on the floor as Georgia held on for a 76-71 victory.

Georgia (15-5, 6-1 Southeastern Conference) went 7-of-8 from the free-throw line in the last 2:30 to hold off Mississippi State (16-5, 5-3 SEC).

LaToya Thomas scored 28 points and had 11 rebounds for Mississippi State. She made her 1,000th career field goal in the first half. Tan White added 18 points and nine rebounds.

"We found a way to get back in it," said Mississippi State coach Sharon Fanning.

Georgia led 54-44 when State went on a 10-0 run, including eight points in 30 seconds when Georgia could not even get the ball to half court.

"State did a good job to tie the game at 54-54," said Georgia coach Andy Landers. "But I thought it was very important that we never lost the lead. I thought if we could get the ball into the halfcourt and get into our offense that we would settle down."

Braxton, playing with four fouls, ended the Georgia drought with a bank shot, and Baker hit four free throws as Georgia surged back ahead 60-54.

But LaToya Thomas scored on a spin move, and White hit two free throws and a 3-pointer sandwiched around a jumper by Braxton to pull Mississippi State to 62-61 with 3:36 to play.

Christi Thomas then scored on a lob pass, and Baker hit two more free throws with 2:37 remaining. When Braxton scored on a lob with 1:10 to play, Georgia led 71-65 and the game was out of reach.

"We got into some foul trouble," Landers said, "but fortunately we were able to come down the stretch with enough players left."

Christi Thomas scored 18 of her points in the first half, but spent most of the second half on the bench with four fouls.

"We did not do a good job pressuring Thomas," said Fanning. "She was able to have her way in the first half. In the second half we attacked the rim better and got more offensive rebounds."

Sherill Baker scored 15 points and had 10 rebounds for Georgia before she fouled out. Braxton added 15 points before also fouling out in the closing seconds.

Georgia led 34-21 at halftime. Mississippi State finished the game hitting just 38 percent from the field. Georgia had 23 turnovers.

"Defensively, I thought we were where we needed to be," said Landers, "especially in the first half. LaToya scored 28 points, but I thought we really did a good job defensively on her and made her work for every one of them."

MSU-GEORGIA POST GAME NOTES

LaToya Thomas registered her 41st career double-double with her 28 points and 11 rebounds. Thomas has moved in to 2nd on the Southeastern Conferences all-time free throws made chart.

Blessing Chekwa scored 10 points versus Georgia. It was the fifth time this season she has reached double figures in scoring.

In seven of their eight SEC contests, MSU has shot 70 percent or better from the free throw line.

The loss to UGA snapped State's two-game winnnig streak versus the Eastern Division Bulldogs. UGA now leads the all-time series 17-9.

The Red and Black out-scored MSU 24-2 off the bench.

Sunday's gane versus LSU is Take a Kid to the Game Day at Mississippi State. Children under 18 and accompanied by an adult. The game is also known as "Pack The Hump". Game time is set for 2 p.m. CT.

The game will be televised live on Fox Sports Net South as part of their SEC-TV package. The game can be seen on Starkville Cable channel 24.

FANNING QUOTES

On the game ...
"Shooting 27 percent in the first half hurt us. We just didn't attack the basket or get offensive rebounds. They had balanced scoring."

On Sherill Baker ...
"She was the key for them. She had 10 rebounds. Baker is very athletic."

On coming back from double-digits ...
"We found a way to get back in the ball game. I was pleased with the effort. We weren't ready in the first half to take the ball to them."

On the LSU game ...
"This is probably the biggest game in our program's history. We need to pack the Hump on Sunday."

On LSU ...
"This is probably the best team that they have had down there."

MISSISSIPPI STATE (16-5)
Chekwa 5-11 0-1 10, Jones 2-5 0-0 6, White 6-17 5-6 18, Thomas 10-19 7-8 28, Kates 3-9 0-0 7, Carter 0-0 0-0 0, Warren 1-7 0-0 2, McKinney 0-1 0-0 0, Anderson 0-1 0-0 0, Stringfellow 0-1 0-0 0, Burton 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 27-72 12-15 71.

GEORGIA (15-5)
Lycett 0-9 0-0 0, Thomas 8-9 5-6 22, Baker 4-12 7-8 15, Kendrick 3-8 2-3 11, Driskell 2-4 0-0 4, Taylor 1-2 1-2 3, Pierce 2-3 0-0 6, Frye 0-0 0-0 0, Braxton 6-12 3-3 15. Totals 26-59 18-22 76.

Halftime -- Georgia 34-21. 3-Point goals -- Mississippi State 5-27 (Jones 2-4, Thomas 1-3, Kates 1-6, White 1-8, Chekwa 0-1, Stringfellow 0-1, Warren 0-4), Georgia 6-20 (Kendrick 3-5, Pierce 2-2, Thomas 1-1, Braxton 0-1, Baker 0-3, Lycett 0-8). Fouled out -- Chekwa, Baker, Braxton. Rebounds -- Mississippi State 41 (Thomas 11), Georgia 43 (Baker 10). Assists -- Mississippi State 6 (White 3), Georgia 15 (Lycett, Braxton 4) Personal fouls -- Mississippi State 21, Georgia 18. A -- 1,631.


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