Caliya Robinson leads Lady Bulldogs in win over Mercer

ATHENS, Ga. — In their first game of a three-game home stretch, senior forward Caliya Robinson led the University of Georgia Lady Bulldogs basketball team with a career-high 30-point effort to take the 67-60 victory over the Mercer Bears at Stegeman Coliseum on Monday.

Robinson, Georgia’s overall leader of the night, shot 50 percent from the field to make up her 30 points, which was the first 30-point game since sophomore Gabby Connally dropped 37 against Texas A&M last season. Robinson also added 17 rebounds to make her second double-double of the season and 21st of her career.

Donnetta Johnson, a freshman guard, finished the game with career and season-bests, finishing five-of-eight from the field for 11 points with five rebounds. Jenna Staiti, a redshirt sophomore, finished with nine points with 10 rebounds, while redshirt junior Taja Cole scored six points and had seven assists.

"I never expected [Mercer] not to be in the game,” Georgia head coach Joni Taylor said. “They are really good. They were 30-3 last year, and we gave them two of their losses. I never expected this to be a game that we were going to blow them out. We play them every year. We know them, they know us. It is going to be a grind-it-out kind of game. Fortunately, we have size on our side."

After coming out cold in the first period in a 19-11 hole, the Lady Bulldogs stormed back in the second period. During a 9-2 run, three Lady Bulldogs scored points to cut Mercer’s lead to five. The sequence included Robinson with five points on a shot behind the arc and another on the block. Sophomore Maya Caldwell added two points, while Malury Bates, a junior forward, capped the Lady Bulldogs’ run with a jumper in the paint to make the score 27-22 with Mercer leading.

In the final two minutes of the first half, Robinson and freshman guard Donnetta Johnson scored a combined eight points, obtaining the Lady Bulldogs’ first lead of the game. Including a shot at the buzzer before the half, Robinson had already secured a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds, and the Lady Bulldogs went into halftime with the 35-30 lead.

Georgia maintained its lead for the duration of the third period, entering the final period with a slim 47-45 advantage. In the opening possession in the fourth period, Mercer tied the game at 47-all. Georgia lost its lead for the first time since the second period after the Bears went up 51-48, but the three-point margin was the largest deficit Georgia faced in the second half. Staiti knocked down a 3-pointer, while Robinson added another two points, reclaiming the lead at 53-51. However, the lead would change four more times in the following two minutes.

Georgia created the game’s key separation with its 9-0 run by Robinson and Johnson in the last five minutes of the game. Robinson scored two points from the line, the first to tie the game with the second regaining the Georgia lead of 58-57. She then added another two points with her jumper in the paint to push the Lady Bulldogs’ lead to three. Johnson knocked down a three-point shot to continue Georgia’s run, then finished it off with a layup to give the Lady Bulldogs the 64-56 lead. Down the stretch, three converted free throws from Connally, Robinson and Staiti secured the 67-60 win.

With this win, the Lady Bulldogs improve their season record to 4-3. Next up in its home game trio, Georgia takes on Charleston Southern on Sunday in Stegeman Coliseum at 2 p.m.

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