Athens, GA -- From tip-off to final buzzer, the Lady Bulldogs exhibited unparalleled obedience on both sides of the court Thursday night against the Kennesaw State University Owls.
Marjorie Butler set the tone and took full control of the floor with her assertive offensive drives and ball movement, looking for the key cuts through the paint and the open jump shots around the arc not only for herself, but her teammates as well.
UGA quickly recognized KSU's lack of hustle back on defense and took advantage of their inability to keep up. Hot off the bench, Caliya Robinson dominated the boards, converting each possession into a scoring opportunity and ending with 10 points at the half.
Merritt Hempe found herself back on the bench after picking up her second foul in the first quarter, but nonetheless redeemed herself, putting up 15 points total for the Lady Dawgs.
KSU worked hard on the blocks and within the key to gain position and maximize on their layups. Kelly Dulkoski found a few good looks under the basket after evading UGA's help defense, logging five points for KSU by the end of the half.
Toward the end of the second quarter, a hustle play sent Shacobia Barbee to the locker room, but was back and stronger than ever in the second half. When the buzzer sounded at the end of the half, KSU trailed UGA 42-20, with UGA shooting 51 percent and KSU 28 percent.
Heading into the second half, UGA took immediate charge, especially Tiaria Griffin. After a quick five points, Griffin became the 36th Lady Bulldog in UGA history to score 1,000 career points. With a humble smile, she accepted the audience's accolades and continued to play the game as if nothing happened.
"I'm just a very laid back person," Griffin said. "But it was a big milestone for me, and I think it's just a blessing to be given that opportunity...I think this year our team is a totally different team. We all cheer each other on - I think Cobi [Barbee] was more excited than me," she laughed.
"I was extremely happy for her," Head Coach Joni Taylor said on Griffin. "I told her I was proud of her...and I said, ‘Did you ever think you'd get it?' and she goes, ‘Well I mean this year, but coming into Georgia, I didn't think I would!'"
Barbee found herself back on the floor and fought harder than before, exhibiting a relentlessness and passion that you can't teach. KSU never showed much fight. UGA took the game, winning 89-34. This was the Lady Bulldog's second back-to-back game in seven days.
"This is what the SEC tournament is going to be like, this is what the NCAA tournament is going to be like against a really good team," said Taylor. "This was a chance for us to teach and prepare."