Athens, GA -- The Pirates quickly took control of the game pulling up 5-0, but Georgia responded with tight deny defense, forcing two turnovers in three possession, both of which were converted into scoring opportunities. Alongside Mackenzie Engram, Marjorie Butler dominated the defensive boards and helped to rapidly push the ball up the floor.
"We have been working so hard on rebounds, and I think that really played a big role," Engram said, "...just being able to improve on our weakness - because rebounding, that's where we struggled - it's a great feeling."
Seton Hall was taking advantage of the open blocks down low, converting high-low plays into successful scoring breaks, but Georgia recognized this and quickly utilized mismatches under the basket. 73 percent of Seton Hall's shots were taken inside the three-point range, emphasizing their focus down low.
"We got away from that," Head Coach Anthony Bozzella said about SHU's first half tactics, "The momentum changed so much...in the first half we utilized the high-low, we utilized the back door cuts, we utilized all that stuff, and we were winning and didn't shoot that great. And in the second half we didn't do any of that, and we saw what the disadvantage was."
Shacobia Barbee put Georgia on top, going coast-to-coast for two points. Seton Hall jumped on multiple baseline drive opportunities, utilizing the open back door plays and used them to their advantage.
Seton Hall's Tiffany Jones continued to crash the boards throughout the entirety of the game and proved to be a force to reckon with. The emotion was evident on both sides as players dove left and right for loose balls and jumped out of bounds to save them under the basket.
The pace of the game didn't allow either side to even have time to flirt with the shot clock. With an assist from Caliya Robinson, Halle Washington put a quick two up on the board and was sent to the line after and aggressive upfake and lay-up.
The high speed and intensity of the game was carried into the second half, emotions higher than before. With the score standing at 33-30 by the end of the first half, Georgia fought to immediately tie it 33-33, Butler with a quick "3" to take the lead.
Before getting into foul trouble, Engram claimed the key, converting great footwork into scoring opportunities. The tension between the teams heightened, and it was evident after a few scuffles out on the floor, arising from jump balls and flagrant fouls.
"It wasn't a shock that any of that happened," Head Coach Joni Taylor said of the aggressive play, "I think the message was, ‘Let's play Georgia basketball,' the way we play. Whether it was a turnover we made, or a missed shot or missed free throw, it was the next play. Same thing with the tension - next play, and be smart about it."
Tiaria Griffin, recent 1,000 point club member, hit two 3's in a row to extend the lead 50-40, with the crowd feeding off of the emotion of the players. Georgia pulled away, forcing the Pirates to play catch-up for the remainder of the game, working toward the final score of 70-52.