Mercer no contest, No. 6 Georgia women remain unbeaten

Mercer no contest, No. 6 Georgia women remain unbeaten
Mercer forward Sharmesia Smith (5) pressures Georgia's Shacobia Barbee (20) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game. Georgia won 80-38.

ATHENS, Ga. (AP) – Georgia used its depth to get balanced scoring in another easy win.

Jasmine Hassell, Jasmine James and Erika Ford scored 12 points each as 11 players scored in the sixth-ranked Lady Bulldogs’ 80-38 victory over Mercer on Tuesday night.

Georgia (10-0) is off to its best start since opening the 2009-10 season with 16 victories, and has won by an average of 27.3 points a game.

“I really like the way our team is playing right now,” freshman guard Marjorie Butler said. “Nobody on the team is selfish and everybody is going out there and playing hard every game. That’s hard for any team to play against us when you have nine and 10 people going out there every game and giving their all.”.

The Lady Bulldogs had 10 players log between 11 and 25 minutes against Mercer. For the season, nine players are averaging between 16 and 24 minutes.

“I think we’ve done a really good job thus far,” James said. “Having five freshmen and then having the class (of seniors) that we have, we’ve done a really good job of jelling together.”.

Georgia struggled early against Mercer (4-3), even trailing four minutes into the game. But the Lady Bulldogs took control the end of the first half and then dominated the second half.

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They led 34-21 at halftime before scoring the first nine points of the second half.

That started a 25-5 run that extended the Lady Bulldogs’ advantage to 59-26 with 9:43 left in the game.

Georgia shot 59 percent from the field (20-of-34) in the second half and was 9 for 15 (60 percent) on 3-pointers.

“Georgia hit a lot of threes,” said Mercer coach Susie Gardner, who played for Georgia coach Andy Landers from 1982-86. “I don’t think that’s necessarily their M.O., But they hit a lot of 3s on us, and they’re bigger, quicker, stronger and faster than us. They’re very, very good, and I think they’ll go far in the NCAA tournament this year.”.

Hassell and James combined to score eight of Georgia’s first 11 points of the second half.

That gave the Lady Bulldogs a 45-23 lead, which reached 54-25 on Ford’s 3 with 12:35 remaining.

Georgia had 18 steals and forced Mercer into 28 turnovers. The Lady Bulldogs also had 22 assists and only eight turnovers.

“I thought we came out and executed beautifully in the half court (in the second half),” Landers said. “We put the ball in the right person’s hands at the right time, and that person finished every single time. It was just beautiful execution to take what was a 12- or 13-point lead and to turn it into more like a 25- or 26-point lead.”.

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The Lady Bulldogs’ lead increased to 46 points on Danielle Bennett’s 3 with 1:41 left in the game.

Kendra Grant scored 16 points to lead the Bears, who are playing without their two leading returning scorers from last season.

They shot 29 percent (15 for 52) from the field.

Briana Williams, who led the Atlantic Sun Conference in scoring the past two years, is out for the year with a torn ACL and Ry’van Buchanan is out with a meniscus injury. They combined for more than 28 points a game last season.

Khaalidah Miller added 10 points for the Lady Bulldogs and Butler established her career high with nine points.

Fellow freshman Shacobia Barbee had five points, but added six rebounds, six assists and six steals.

“I really do think that depth makes a difference for us because you don’t have anybody really going out there and playing 40 minutes or 30 minutes,” Butler said. “Everybody is playing 16 to 25 minutes, so it keeps everyone fresh and everyone playing hard.”.