Lady Rebs can't conquer Georgia

The No. 17 Lady Bulldogs closed strong in the first half and opened up a large lead in the second half as they rolled to victory in the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams.

Ole Miss didn't have an answer for Tasha Humphrey inside or Megan Darrah outside as the two Lady Bulldogs combined for 47 points in Georgia's impressive 84-70 win over the Lady Rebels Thursday night in Oxford in the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams.

Just as effective was a Georgia defense that held Ole Miss' two leading scorers - Armintie Price and Ashley Johnson - to 12 total points, 19 points below their collective averages of 19 and 12 respectively.

Georgia head coach Andy Landers, his ballclub now 10-3 overall and 1-0 in SEC play, praised his team's effort and execution, especially when it came to stopping Price and Johnson.

"I think we just guarded them," he said. "I don't think it was anything really special. We just felt we had to close out on Johnson and take away the 3. We did that for the most part. To play against those two, and really against their entire team, our kids prepared really, really well for this game. They were intent on wanting to play well. What you saw our team do on the court this evening was what they prepared to do. You don't always get that."

Ole Miss head coach Carol Ross said it was a tough loss to take, especially since it was a home game.

"It's real disappointing to not be able to win at home," said Ross, whose team has now lost three of its last four games to fall to 10-4 on the season and 0-1 in conference play. "In our league it's critical that you win home games. So we're in a dig out of the hole mode already. It's also disappointing that defensively we didn't get it done. When you have breakdowns, good teams make you pay. I thought Georgia did an exceptionally good job of making us pay for our mental mistakes and our physical mistakes. They just took control of the game."

The Lady Rebels actually had the Lady Bulldogs in a hole in the first half. A 3-pointer by Lindsay Roy gave Ole Miss a 24-16 lead at the 8:39 mark of the first half and ignited an enthusiastic home crowd of nearly 2,000. But Landers called a timeout, regrouped his team, and the Lady Dogs started to roll.

From that point on until the end of the first half, Georgia outscored Ole Miss 25-11 to lead 41-35 at intermission. The Lady Bulldogs were 6-10 from 3-point range in the first half and a perfect 5-5 from the free throw line.

Georgia kept up its intensity to open the second half, stretching its lead to 10 points at 45-35 with only 35 seconds gone. Ole Miss got as close as three points (55-52) with 13:25 to go on two Shawn Goff free throws. But as had been the case all night, the Lady Bulldogs answered. Darrah nailed a 3-pointer to push their lead back out to 58-52 with 13 minutes to go, the start of a 15-2 run for Georgia over the next three minutes and a 70-54 advantage.

The lead swelled to as much as 18 points several times in the game's waning minutes.

Sophomore Danetra Forrest led Ole Miss in scoring with 12 points, followed by sophomore Carla Bartee and junior Ashley Awkward with 11 each.

Humphrey had 29 for the Lady Dogs and Darrah 18. Price had only eight points and Johnson only four for the Lady Rebs.

Georgia ended the contest shooting 47 percent (29-62) from the floor but 54 percent (12-22) from behind the arc. The Lady Bulldogs were 9-11 (88 percent) from the free throw line.

Ole Miss shot 42 percent (25-59) from the floor and was 5-17 (29 percent) from behind the 3-point line. At the charity stripe, the Lady Rebs were 15-23 (65 percent).

Each team had 15 turnovers. Georgia had the best of the boards with 37 rebounds to 35 for Ole Miss.

"I'm really pleased with our basketball team, as I should be," said Landers, whose Lady Bulldogs had lost on their last two trips to Oxford. "We beat a very good Ole Miss team, a team that had been really, really hard for us to beat, and actually for everyone else, down here. We're not a great rebounding team, but tonight we outrebounded a great rebounding team."

Ross and the Lady Rebels host arch-rival Mississippi State Sunday at 2 p.m. in a game to be televised by SEC TV on Fox Sports Net.

"We'd be talking about Sunday already even if we had won by 14 tonight," said Ross, who is 3-1 vs. MSU since becoming the Ole Miss head coach. "There's no shame in getting knocked down. There's shame in staying down. Hopefully this team will get up and fight and play with pride and try to re-establish its homecourt again. You can't sit around and start feeling sorry for yourself in this league. I would be surprised if this team is not chomping at the bit to get back on the court again to compete against our big instate rival, Mississippi State."

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