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Bulldogs’ big run deflates Grizzlies

Georgia’s Kellie Cole shoots over a Montana double-team in the second half. (Tyler Tjomsland)
Georgia’s Kellie Cole shoots over a Montana double-team in the second half. (Tyler Tjomsland)

Georgia’s 21-6 sprint buries Montana

The University of Montana women’s basketball team had a small window of opportunity Saturday afternoon.

It closed abruptly in the second half. That’s what a 21-6 run will do to a team.

The Georgia Bulldogs turned a tight game into a runaway, 70-50, in an NCAA tournament opener at the McCarthey Athletic Center.

Georgia (26-6) meets Iowa State (24-8) Monday to decide a berth in the Sweet 16 at the Arena next weekend. Tipoff is at 6:30.

Twice Montana cut Georgia’s lead to two points early in the second half, the last time coming at 38-36 when Jordan Sullivan hit a 3-pointer with 15:51 remaining.

Before the Grizzlies could blink, though, the Bulldogs had extended the lead to 59-42 nearly 10 minutes later.

“They are just a really, really good basketball team and they are really good on the defensive end,” Montana coach Robin Selvig said. “I thought we executed pretty well. We got enough shots to stay in that game but it was 38-36 and all of a sudden they scored quick. They made plays when we had a little momentum going. They have a lot of weapons and they play hard.”

To the Grizzlies’ credit, they didn’t let a slow start faze them.

Georgia broke out quickly, opening a 17-6 lead. But the Grizzlies eventually settled, tightening things later in the first half.

A basket in the post by Sullivan pulled Montana within 22-17 with 5:03 to go before halftime.

Back-to-back turnovers allowed Georgia to extend the lead back to 11 points at 28-17 with 2:23 to go. But back-to-back 3-pointers from Torry Hill pulled Montana within 30-23. Carly Selvig’s two free throws with under a second remaining made it 32-25 at intermission.

Montana didn’t have an answer for Georgia’s second-half surge.

“I was really pleased with the way our team defended,” Georgia coach Andy Landers said. “I felt that the desired effect of that defense probably set in at somewhere around the 13-minute mark there in the second half.”

If not a tad earlier – the desired effect being it took hope out of the Grizzlies, who couldn’t generate much offense because they were beleaguered by poor shooting (17 of 58 from the field).

Montana’s usual leading scorer, former Lake City standout Katie Baker, was limited to seven points.

“They just made some plays and basketball is a game of runs,” Baker said. “They got a big momentum swing their way, a couple of loose balls, a couple big shots, hit a couple of big 3s and just like that they are ahead again.”

Georgia served Montana with a big dose of physical in Jasmine Hassell, who torched the Grizzlies inside for 16 points. Freshman Shacobia Barbee had 13 to go with seven rebounds and Jasmine James added 11 points and a team-high four assists.

Hassell, too, pointed to defense being the key.

“We started turning them over and we started making plays on the offensive end,” Hassell said. “We all just buckled down and played (defense).”

Montana (24-8)—Smith 1-1 1-2 4, Baker 3-9 1-2 7, Sullivan 3-6 1-2 8, Hill 4-12 0-0 11, De Boer 2-9 0-0 4, Feller 0-1 0-0 0, Cole 0-5 1-2 1, Doran 1-1 0-0 3, Hurley 1-4 2-2 4, Selvig 0-3 4-6 4, Rickman 2-7 0-0 4. Totals 17-58 10-16 50.

Georgia (26-6)—Armstrong 2-5 2-2 7, Hassell 6-11 4-6 16, Barbee 6-9 0-0 13, James 4-11 2-2 11, Griffin 1-7 1-2 4, Miller 0-3 0-0 0, Bennett 1-1 0-0 3, Hempe 0-1 0-0 0, Donald 1-2 0-0 2, Willis 2-2 0-0 4, Butler 1-3 0-0 2, Ford 4-6 0-0 8. Totals 28-61 9-12 70.

Halftime—Georgia 32-25. 3-Point Goals—Mont. 6-17 (Hill 3-8, Smith 1-1, Sullivan 1-1, Doran 1-1, De Boer 0-1, Feller 0-1, Rickman 0-1, Cole 0-3), Geo. 5-17 (Bennett 1-1, Armstrong 1-1, Barbee 1-2, James 1-3, Griffin 1-5, Butler 0-2, Miller 0-3). Fouled Out—None. Rebounds—Mont. 43 (Smith 7), Geo. 37 (Barbee 7). Assists—Mont. 11 (Hill 3), Geo. 15 (James 4). Total Fouls—Mont. 12, Geo. 17. A—5,674.

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