Lady Bulldogs to open season against Gardner-Webb

Game Information

#19 Georgia Lady Bulldogs (0-0) vs. Gardner-Webb Runnin’ Bulldogs (0-1)

Thursday, Nov. 11 | 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 and The Georgia Bulldogs App

Opening Tip

» Georgia is set to open the 2021-22 season against the Gardner-Webb Runnin’ Bulldogs this Thursday evening at Stegeman Coliseum.

» Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. ET with Matt Stewart and Mark Slonaker calling the action on SEC Network +. Fans can also listen to the voice of the Lady Bulldogs, Jeff Dantzler. Dantzler has spent over two decades calling some of the best moments in Georgia sports history.

» Georgia is 39-9 in season-opening games overall and has won 15-straight lid-lifters dating back to the 2005-06 season (L, 84-72 to No. 6 Baylor).

» The Lady Bulldogs own a 26-2 overall record in season-opening home games. The team is a perfect 5-0 in home openers under Coach Taylor’s leadership.

» Graduates Que Morrison and Jenna Staiti return to lead the Lady Bulldogs. Morrison and Staiti were Georgia’s top two scorers and rebounders last season, accounting for close to 30 points and 15 rebounds per game. Overall, the Lady Bulldogs return 83 percent of their scoring from last year’s team.

» Morrison and Staiti were each named to the preseason All-SEC second-team in a vote by league coaches. Staiti was also tabbed to the Lisa Leslie Award Watch List for the nation’s top center and the Naismith National Player of the Year Watch List.

» Each of Georgia’s seniors have already earned their college degrees. Malury Bates (sociology), Mikayla Coombs (sport management), Morrison (communication studies) and Staiti (human development and family science) have all graduated from the University of Georgia.

» 2021 SEC Coach of the Year Joni Taylor enters her seventh season leading the Georgia Lady Bulldog basketball program. Taylor finished as a National Coach of the Year finalist after leading Georgia to the SEC tournament finals for the first time since 2004 and its highest NCAA tournament seeding since 2007 (No. 3 seed).

» Georgia also welcomes back 2021 SEC All-Freshman Team selection Sarah Ashlee Barker as well as Jordan Isaacs, who started all 28 games at the ‘4′ spot last season.

» The Lady Bulldogs signed two McDonald’s All-Americans in the same recruiting class for the first time in program history this past offseason. Guard Reigan Richardson and forward Jillian Hollingshead are set for their freshman seasons, along with Alina Sendar and Kimora Jenkins.

Series History

» Georgia and Gardner-Webb will meet for just the second time in program history . The Lady Bulldogs won the only previous contest between the two teams, 84-56, on Dec. 22, 2019. Then-freshman Javyn Nicholson scored a career-high 22 points to go with 10 rebounds en route to her first double-double. Gardner-Webb was held to a 29 percent shooting performance in that contest as the Runnin’ Bulldogs hit just 2-of-10 in the fourth quarter.

Scouting the Opponent: Gardner-Webb

» The Runnin’ Bulldogs were picked to finish fifth in the Big South this year after compiling an 11-13 overall record and 10-7 mark in the conference last season. The ‘Dogs roster features top returners Lauren Bevis, Jhessyka Williams, Alasia Smith, and Ki’Ari Cain. The roster also features four newcomers, split between transfers and freshmen: L’Mia Littlejohn from Western Carolina University, Sarah Matthews from Gulf Coast State College (NJCAA), Sharkara Anderson, and Laken Cox.

Georgia Game Notes

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.

Exceeding Expectations

» Coach Taylor’s teams have lived by the mantra ‘It’s not where you start but where you finish.’ In four 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 32 of her last 37 games with 12 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 with zero starts in 65 total games played. Staiti has now started in 58 of her last 59 contests and has more than tripled her points per game average to 13.2 ppg and upped her rebounds to 7.3 per contest.

Defense Travels

» 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 SEC games only with 33 steals and 2.2 per game.

The Riverdale, Ga., native and three-time selection to the SEC Academic Honor Roll has also stepped it up offensively. She has now scored in double figures in 12 of her last 13 games dating back to last season.

A Healthy Dose of Que

» After suffering a string of injuries in her career, 2021 SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Year Que 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.

Morrison started all 28 games last season and led the team with 29.9 minutes played per contest.

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 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.

She has played in 41 games during her career as a Lady Bulldog.

All in the Family for Barker

» SEC All-Freshman Team selection Sarah Ashlee Barker is entering her sophomore season. The Birmingham, Ala., native played in 24 games and had several big moments last season. She hit the go-ahead shot against Georgia Tech in overtime, finished with 10 points in the win against Arkansas and played a career-high 31 minutes in the victory at Alabama.

Barker’s two brothers both play quarterback at the Division I level. Braxton is a redshirt-junior at the University of Alabama and Harrison is a redshirt-freshman QB at UAB.

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 became 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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