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Lady Dawgs Eye Return to NCAAs

Six of last year’s top eight scorers return

NCAA Womens Basketball: SEC Conference Tournament-Missouri vs Georgia Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

While the men’s basketball team started its season off on Tuesday night, the Lady Dawgs get going Thursday by hosting Kennesaw State. It begins a six-game homestand that includes Georgia Tech on Nov. 17.

Georgia, which was 18-12 overall and 9-7 last year, has the obvious goal of returning to the NCAA tournament, two years removed from earning the right to host the first and second round.

Look for this team to be strong defensively. In each of the past four years, Georgia has ranked in the top five of the SEC in three-point defense and field goal percentage defense.

Last year’s team was the youngest in the SEC with eight freshmen and sophomores. With six of the top eight scores from last year returning, the Lady Dawgs now hope to learn from that experience.

Two key pieces from last year, Gabby Connally and Stephanie Paul, will be among the returners being counted on. Connally moves to point guard and scored 12.4 points a game last year and was voted by SEC coaches as second-team all-conference.

Paul emerged as the season went on as the top player to come off the bench. Two others that came on strong to finish out last year could also figure to be key - Maya Caldwell and Que Morrison. Caldwell scored double figures in five of Georgia’s final ten games last year as Morrison found her groove after recovering from a knee injury, playing at least 30 minutes in the final six games of the year.

But this team will have more than last year’s experience. New talent, by way of a signing class and transfers is also raring to go, though not right away. Mikayla Coombs, a 2017 McDonald’s All-American, transfers in from UConn and was ranked No. 2 guard in the nation for her signing class. Her eligibility, denied by the NCAA, is being appealed by Georgia with Shaniya Jones being eligible after the fall following a transfer from Virginia Tech.

Georgia’s top-15 signing class includes five-star point guard Chloe Chapman and five-star forward Javyn Nicholson, both of whom rank among the nation’s top-40 prospects according to espnW, while fellow freshman forward Jordan Isaacs was a highly sought after recruit who was tabbed a four-star player by