DULUTH, Ga. --- Georgia used a 19-3 run late in the first half to gain a comfortable lead and maintained that advantage throughout the second stanza en route to a 53-43 win over Vanderbilt in the second round of the SEC Tournament on Thursday.
With the victory, Georgia secured its 29th 20-win season during Andy Landers' 35-year tenure as the Lady Bulldogs' head coach.
Senior Khaalidah Miller led Georgia (20-10) with 12 points, while Krista Donald and Erika Ford chipped in 10 points apiece. Christina Foggie paced Vanderbilt (18-12) with 19 points.
"It was the kind of game I think that we thought it would be – extremely competitive," Landers said. "We just felt challenged defensively by a very good Vanderbilt team, a team that has skillful players who cannot only make shots, but make plays and execute extremely well. That was a big challenge for us."
Foggie, the SEC's leading scorer, opened the game with a pair of 3-pointers in the first 2:12 to spot the Commodores a 6-0 lead. Georgia scored the next seven points in a span of just 70 seconds and took its first lead on a Khaalidah Miller 3-pointer at the 17:25 mark.
After Vanderbilt regained a 12-9 advantage, back-to-back layups by Merritt Hempe opened a 19-3 Lady Bulldog surge over the final 9:17 of the half. Georgia held the Commodores without a field goal for 9:36 until Marqu'es Webb closed out the first-half scoring on a layin with 12 ticks on the clock.
"Defensively that's when a lot of things just came together," Landers said. "We knew what we wanted to do. We knew how we wanted to defend them. We started the game that way. But we had some cracks. We had some little breakdowns. I think as the game got played, after about 10 minutes, all five of our kids were on the same page. We were playing close to exactly the way that we wanted, the way that we hoped we could play defensively and affect the things Vanderbilt was trying to do offensively."
Georgia pushed its lead to 15 points twice early in the second half before consecutive, back-door layups by Foggie pulled Vanderbilt within 32-24 with 16:19 left. The Lady Bulldogs answered with back0-to-back 3-pointers from Tiaria Griffin and Miller over the next 59 seconds to regain a 14-point advantage and another Ford 3-pointer gave Georgia its largest lead at 43-26 with 13:28 on the clock.
Vanderbilt closed the gap to 10 points on four occasions but never got within single digits the rest of the way.
Georgia will now face top-seeded South Carolina in Friday's quarterfinal round at noon.
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