Chattanooga. TN - With Georgia trailing by six points and less than a minute left in the first half, Ashley Houts decided to take control of her homecoming game at Chattanooga. The Trenton, Ga., native score 13 straight points for the Lady Bulldogs in a 74-57 victory.
Houts knocked down a three-pointer to cut UTC's lead in half before the intermission and then scored 10 points in the first 3:24 of the second period to give the Lady Bulldogs a 43-39 lead they would never relinquish.
"She's a senior. She's our leader. She's our point guard," Andy Landers said. "She did exactly what she's supposed to do. The neat thing about it was that it sparked our other players. They saw her doing that and all of a sudden Porsha (Phiilips) is knocking down balls on defense and 'JJ' hit some big shots. Everyone fed off each other but that started with Ashley."
Houts finished with 21 points, five assists and four steals before a crowd of 4,004, including an estimated 500 fans from her hometown of Trenton, Ga., less than 15 minutes from the Chattanooga arena. Freshman Jasmine James poured in 25 points, largely due to hitting six three-pointers, to secure game-high scoring honors.
Georgia eventually pushed its edge to 11 midway through the second half before Chattanooga, the 10-time defending Southern Conference champions, rallied. The Lady Mocs pulled within 56-62, but James then took over what her backcourt mate started. The reigning SEC Freshman of the Week scored 17 of her game-high 25 points to give the Lady Bulldogs breathing room.
Houts checked out of the game with 1:41 left to a boisterous ovation. She then sat on the bench for more time than she did in all 14 SEC games last season combined.
"To be honest, it just makes me very proud to be where I'm from," Houts said. "It means so much to me to have the chance to come back and play in front of so many people who watched me play for the Dade County Lady Wolverines. I always had such great support from everyone from Trenton, Ga., just like tonight."
The Lady Bulldogs started quickly and raced to a 9-2 lead less than five minutes in before Chattanooga unleashed a barrage of threes to get back into the contest. The Lady Mocs hit five straight field goals from behind the arc en route to a 21-14 lead."
Georgia tied the score at both 23-23 and 30-30 before a 6-0 surge put Chattanooga back up by six. Houts canned her three with 30 seconds left in the half to cut that margin in half and started the second stanza even hotter.
Houts' first-half triple also moved her past Pam Irwin-Osbolt into the No. 26 spot among the Lady Bulldogs' career scoring leaders. With her second-half scoring, she moved past No. 25 Carla Green and No. 24 Cynthia Collins.
The Lady Bulldogs will return to action on Sunday when they host Rutgers at 2:30 p.m. Sunday will serve as "Thanks for being a Dog Day" with all tickets sold at Stegeman Coliseum on game day for $1. Coliseum box offices will open at 1:00 p.m.
UGA students, faculty and staff are admitted to all Lady Bulldog games free of charge via Ticket Booth 4 beginning 90 minutes prior to tip-off.
Fans can also register to win free turkeys and to participate in Turkey Bowling during halftime courtesy of HoneyBaked Ham.
In addition, former Lady Bulldog Teresa Edwards will be honored during halftime ceremonies. Edwards is the most decorated women's basketball player in the world. The Cairo, Ga., native led Georgia to an NCAA runner-up finish, two Final Fours and three SEC Championships between 1983-86. Edwards also represented the U.S. in five Olympic Games, winning Gold Medals in 1984, 1988, 1996 and 2000. Edwards is both the youngest and oldest women's basketball player to win Olympic Gold, and she is one of only three American athletes to win Gold Medals in four different Olympics.
Edwards was inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame in August 2009 and will be enshrined in the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in June 2010.