Georgia 70, Texas 68
DALLAS (AP)—Georgia began the season by casting doubt on Texas as a championship team.
Then again, maybe Georgia was just establishing itself as one.
But little doubt will linger now about whether the Bulldogs are a legitimate contender, after sixth-seeded Georgia ousted third-seeded Texas 70-68 in the second round of the NCAA tournament Monday night.
Count Texas coach Jody Conradt among the believers.
“Could this game have been a Final Four game?” Conradt said. “I think so.”
It certainly played out like one. Georgia (24-9) led for the entire game but was forced to hold off Texas (22-9) right down to the final buzzer, when Heather Schreiber’s 3-point attempt fell dead at the corner of the rim.
It was a much different ending than when Texas and Georgia met in November. Back then, the Longhorns were ranked No. 2 and were a Final Four favorite, but the Bulldogs grounded Texas by rallying from a 15-point deficit before cruising to a 78-64 victory.
This time, Georgia’s victory denied Texas a trip to the round of 16 for the first time in four years. It’s the earliest tournament exit since a first-round elimination in 2001.
“I haven’t been in too many locker rooms that were as depressed and despondent as this one,” said Conradt, who was coaching her 51st NCAA tournament game.
Down on the other bench, Georgia coach Andy Landers was in his 64th career tournament game but acting like it was his last. Landers stammered, shouted and paced throughout the game, at one point putting one of his own players in a headlock to enhance his point to an official about a play under the basket.
By the end of the game, Landers had led Georgia to the round of 16 for the 15th time in 21 tournament appearances. Georgia will face the winner of Tuesday night’s Duke-Boston College game on Saturday in the Chattanooga Regional semifinals.
Landers’ intensity also motivated his players, particularly freshman Tasha Humphrey. She scored 26 points and had 10 rebounds in a back-and-forth duel with Texas’ Tiffany Jackson, who tied her career high with 30 points.
“That killer mentality that has been instilled my whole life,” Humphrey said. “Playing against the best post player in the nation. A fun, exciting matchup, that’s what fueled my fire.”
Jackson had an opportunity to tie it with 12 seconds left but her short jumper was blocked by Georgia’s Rebecca Rowsey.
Texas could have also used a better outing from guard Nina Norman, who scored just five points. Norman played again with a heavy bandage on her left hand as she did against Oral Roberts in the first round, but the junior was hardly as effective.
In that first game of the tournament, Norman scored 20 points on 7-of-11 shooting. Against Georgia, she was 2-of-13.
Georgia opened the game by hitting nine of its first 11 shots, mostly from the outside. Chambers scored six points in the first 2 minutes—all on long, contested jump shots—and finished the first half with 13 points on 6-of-6 shooting.
With Chambers perfect from the perimeter and Humphrey controlling the paint, the Bulldogs shot 60 percent in the first half and led by as many as 12 points.
“I think it was probably the kind of game we expected,” Landers said. “Hard fought and well played.”