#19 Georgia Lady Bulldogs (2-0) vs. Mercer Bears (2-1)
Thursday, Nov. 18 | 7 p.m. ET | Athens, Ga. | Stegeman Coliseum (10,523)
Watch: SEC Network + (Matt Stewart and Mark Slonaker)
Listen: Georgia Bulldog Sports Network (Jeff Dantzler)
WGAU 98.7 FM and AM1340 Georgia Bulldog App
- Recognition of international student-athletes during the game
- Halftime – Scoot and Shoot promotion and BMW RC Race
» Georgia welcomes the Mercer Bears to Stegeman Coliseum for a Thursday matchup at 7 p.m. ET. Matt Stewart and Mark Slonaker have the call on SEC Network +, while Jeff Dantzler will voice the action on the Georgia Bulldog Sports Network.
» The Lady Bulldogs are 2-0 and have won 10 of their last 13 games dating back to last year. It marks the sixth-straight year Georgia has started a season with two consecutive wins.
» Sophomore guard Sarah Ashlee Barker scored a career-high 19 points to lead Georgia past Furman Monday night. Barker hit 62 percent (8-of-13) from the floor in the win.
» The Lady Bulldogs committed just nine turnovers on Monday. That is Georgia’s lowest turnover number since committing eight in last year’s SEC tournament win against Kentucky.
» Freshmen Jillian Hollingshead and Reigan Richardson combined to score 14 points Monday night. Hollingshead has scored 16 points and totaled 10 boards through her first two collegiate games.
» Graduate center Jenna Staiti blocked five shots during the win against Furman. The SEC’s career active leader in blocks needs just three more swats to move into the top-5 in the Georgia career record book. She currently has 210 blocks over the past five years.
» Graduate guard Que Morrison has scored in double figures in 14 of her last 15 games.
» Senior Mikayla Coombs dished out a career-high seven assists on Monday. Coombs is shooting 60 percent from the field through two games this season and is hitting 46 percent of her shots during her time at Georgia. That is a huge improvement from her first two years at UConn, where she hit 27.9 percent of her shots.
» Mercer head coach Susie Gardner will return to her alma mater on Thursday. Gardner played at Georgia from 1983-86 and was part of the 1983 and 1985 NCAA Final Four teams.
» Georgia has won 25-straight games against Mercer and leads the all-time series, 27-12. The two teams first met in 1974, with the Bears winning the first five matchups in the series. Georgia is 16-5 at home all-time against Mercer and has not lost to the Bears at Stegeman Coliseum since 1979.
Scouting the Opponent: Mercer
» Mercer enters Thursday’s game after knocking off 2021 NCAA tournament squad Troy. The Bears -- a tournament team themselves -- defeated the Trojans 75-66 behind 19 points from Jaron Dougherty. Mercer was picked to win the Southern Conference by both media and coaches in the preseason polls.
Georgia Game Notes
Georgia Inks Elite Signing Class
» Following last Thursday’s win against Gardner-Webb, the Lady Bulldogs received more good news with the signing of three premier prospects. Janiah Barker and Sydney Bowles, two of the highest rated players in the nation, will join talented point guard product Tineya Hylton in Georgia’s 2022 class.
Barker – who is considered the No.1-ranked forward nationally and among the top-3 players overall -- is a native of Marietta, Ga. She currently preps at Montverde Academy in Florida. Bowles – a consensus top-10 guard prospect -- is from Lithonia, Ga., and plays at Woodward Academy. They will begin their collegiate careers during the 2022-23 campaign.
Hylton prepped at Hamilton Heights Christian Academy in Chattanooga, Tenn., before going back to Canada to play at Royal Crown Academic School in Toronto, Ontario. She will join the Lady Bulldogs this season.
» Georgia has held each of its first two opponents below 50 points, marking the 41st time under head coach Joni Taylor the Lady Bulldogs have accomplished that feat. Gardner-Webb and Furman combined to make just 25 percent of their shots against Georgia.
Spreading the Wealth
» Every available player has touched the floor in each of the first two contests. Twelve of the available 13 players scored at least a point against Gardner-Webb, while 10 of 12 scored against Gardner-Webb.
Nicholson Posts Double-Double in Opener
» Junior forward Javyn Nicholson scored 13 points and brought down a career-best 12 rebounds in the season-opener against Gardner-Webb. It marked her first double-double since 2019.
During last season’s game against Mercer, Nicholson led Georgia with a team-high 15 points and seven rebounds.
» Head Coach Joni Taylor and her staff implemented a new offensive philosophy prior to the 2020-21 season with the goal of playing a more up-tempo style with defensive pressure.
That move has paid dividends. Since last season, Georgia has scored over 90 points four times. The Lady Bulldogs scored over 90 points just four times combined in the five seasons prior.
Georgia Picked Fourth in SEC, No. 19 in National Poll
» SEC coaches voted the Lady Bulldogs fourth in the annual preseason poll, just behind South Carolina, Texas A&M and Tennessee. Georgia came in at No. 19 in the national preseason coaches poll. Last season, the Lady Bulldogs finished ranked No. 10 in the Associated Press top-25 -- its highest ranking going into the NCAA tournament since 2001.
» Coach Taylor’s teams have lived by the mantra ‘It’s not where you start but where you finish.’ In five of her first six seasons, the Lady Bulldogs have finished well ahead of their preseason ranking. The largest jumps came in 2017-18 -- when Georgia was picked eighth and finished second -- and last season -- when the team was picked ninth and finished fourth.
Georgia’s SEC Standings Under Joni Taylor
Season Preseason Rank SEC Finish
2015-16 9th 6th
2016-17 12th 8th
2017-18 8th 2nd (tied)
2018-19 4th 7th
2019-20 10th 9th
2020-21 9th 4th
Staiti’s Streak Continues
» Jenna Staiti has become known as ‘Steady Staiti’ over the last two seasons -- and for good reason.
The Cumming, Ga., native has scored in double figures in 34 of her last 39 games with 13 double-doubles and nine 20-plus point efforts. It is a remarkable stat line for the All-SEC center, especially when you look back to her first two years of college basketball.
During her freshman and sophomore campaigns, Staiti averaged 4.4 ppg and 1.7 rpg in 65 total games played. Staiti has now more than tripled her points per game average to 13.2 ppg and upped her rebounds to 7.3 per contest over the past three years.
» Georgia has become one of the top defensive teams in the SEC during Coach Taylor’s tenure. In her six seasons leading the program, the Lady Bulldogs have finished either first or second in the conference in scoring defense on three occasions, including a league-best and school record 54.1 ppg in 2015-16. Last year, Georgia ranked second in the SEC, holding opponents to 60.5 ppg. The team also finished top-5 in most defensive categories, including field-goal percentage defense, 3-point field-goal percentage defense and turnovers forced.
Not Just Defense For Morrison
» Que Morrison is known as one of the top defenders in the nation as she routinely guards the opponent’s top player night-in and night-out. Last year, Morrison led all players in conference play with 33 steals (2.2 per game).
The Riverdale, Ga., native has also stepped it up offensively. She has now scored in double figures in 14 of her last 15 games dating back to last season.
A Healthy Dose of Que
» After suffering a string of injuries in her career, Morrison finally experienced a full healthy season for the Lady Bulldogs.
Here is a look back at some of the adversity Morrison has overcome.
The defensive stopper placed on the SEC All-Freshman Team after drawing 32 starts on Georgia’s NCAA tournament team. Then, in her sophomore campaign, Morrison missed the first eight games due to a torn meniscus in her left knee. In 2019-20, she had an injury to her foot before the year began. She then suffered a torn labrum in her right shoulder to end her junior campaign midway through SEC play.
Coombs Takes on Leadership Roles
» Mikayla Coombs — a native of Buford, Ga. — was selected by her peers to serve as the vice chair of the SEC Women’s Basketball Leadership Council. As one of four elected officers, she will participate in various meetings throughout the year to provide feedback to Athletics Directors, Senior Woman Administrators and Faculty Athletics Representatives.
This news came after she was chosen as the only student-athlete representative on the NCAA competition committee. Coombs graduated with a degree in sport management from the University of Georgia and is currently pursuing a master’s in the same program. She was named a UGA Presidential Scholar in 2020, has placed on the Athletic Director’s Honor Roll three times and made the Dean’s List in 2021.
Dogs Have Options Again
» Georgia had one of the deepest rosters in the SEC last season. The Lady Bulldogs played 10 or more players in 23 of 28 games and used 11 or more players on 14 occasions.That trend looks to continue this year with 10 returners who could all see big minutes.
Consistency is Key
» Georgia has one of the longest tenured staffs in the SEC. With the return of Karen Lange, Chelsea Newton and Robert Mosley, Georgia is the only team in the conference to not have a single coaching change at any level -- head coach or assistant coach -- over the past six years.
Chapman Sticks with Basketball
» Junior guard Chloe Chapman played two seasons with the Georgia soccer team, but after spending two years as a dual-sport athlete, she will now focus on just basketball. The Mitchellville, Md., native was a consensus top-40 prospect and was rated as the No. 8 overall point guard in the nation coming out of high school.
Georgia Freshmen Already Making History
» Lady Bulldog freshmen Reigan Richardson and Jillian Hollingshead were both named McDonald’s All-Americans, marking the first time in Georgia history the program has signed two McDonald’s All-Americans in one class. Hollingshead and Richardson are the 11th and 12th McDonald’s All-Americans to sign with the Lady Bulldogs and are the first to commit right out high school since Ronika Ransford in 2010. Current Lady Bulldog Mikayla Coombs was a McDonald’s All-American in 2017.
Isaacs Brings Experience
» Georgia junior forward Jordan Isaacs was the only non-senior to start every game for the Lady Bulldogs last season. Isaacs made big play after big play and stepped up defensively to lead her team. She made perhaps two of the most important plays of the year for the Lady Bulldogs. One was her block on Rennia Davis’ shot attempt that sealed the win against Tennessee, while the other came against Arkansas when she brought down an offensive board to set up Gabby Connally’s buzzer-beater.
A Storied History
» Georgia is one of just two SEC programs (Tennessee) and one of just 16 teams nationwide to reach the 1,000 win total. The Lady Bulldogs accomplished the feat last season on the road at East Carolina. It was the latest impressive accomplishment for the storied program.
The Lady Bulldogs are one of only three teams, joining Wisconsin-Green Bay and Tennessee, to have a winning record every year since 1980 and have been to 34 of 39 NCAA tournaments.
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