Andy Landers’s 14th-ranked Lady Bulldogs had a golden opportunity to stay unbeaten at home and hand the sixth-ranked Wildcats their first league loss of the season, but, despite a valiant effort, injury-riddled Georgia squandered a 36-32 halftime lead in Stegeman Coliseum on Thursday night in a 69-64 loss to visiting Kentucky.
Up 46-36 four and a half minutes into the second period, the Red and Black saw their lead whittled down by the Wildcats’ Bria Goss and Samarie Walker, who between them scored 17 points on the Kentucky run that left the guests out in front by a 57-52 margin with eight minutes showing on the game clock.
Anne Armstrong pulled the Lady Dogs within three on a layup, but Goss and Bernisha Pinkett extended the Blue and White edge to eight points with seven minutes left. From there, the Athenians did little to capitalize on their remaining chances: Erika Ford was fouled, but made only one of the resulting free throws; Jasmine Hassell pulled down a defensive rebound, leading only to a Meredith Mitchell miss; a Kentucky turnover yielded an unsuccessful Ford jump shot.
Nevertheless, Georgia continued to battle, twice cutting the lead to three in the final five minutes before Armstrong drained the three-pointer that narrowed the deficit to 66-64 inside the final 60 seconds, but all that transpired thereafter favored the Kentuckians, so Hassell’s 13 points and nine rebounds went to waste, along with the contributions of the other four Lady Bulldogs who scored in double figures. Shorthanded Georgia was hampered by injuries, which kept Jasmine James out of the lineup and forced Coach Landers to use only seven players against a Wildcat club that was able to rotate a dozen collegians and pour in 34 points off the bench.