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Georgia women close strong to beat Florida, end 8-game losing streak
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Georgia vs. Missouri

When: 7 p.m. Thursday

Where: Verizon Arena, Little Rock, Ark.

TV: SEC Network

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Tiaria Griffin scored a game-high 17 points to lead the Georgia Lady Bulldogs to a 52-45 win over Florida on Sunday, snapping an eight-game losing streak in the process.

Marjorie Butler added 11 points and Krista Donald grabbed 11 rebounds for Georgia (18-11, 6-10 SEC) in the regular-season finale.

Cassie Peoples’ 13 points paced the Gators (13-16, 5-11 SEC).

In a contest eerily similar to a loss to the Gators two and a half weeks ago in Athens, Georgia led at the half and built a double-digit advantage in the second stanza before Florida surged ahead in the closing minutes.

This time, the Lady Bulldogs responded with an 8-0 run to regain control.

“We showed a lot of discipline coming down the stretch the last five minutes,” head coach Andy Landers said. “We didn’t always score, we didn’t always get what we wanted, but we were disciplined. We didn’t get in a hurry.

“We ran out of time and we got into a short clock in certain situations, but we stayed the course. I think that was important because in other games we’d gotten in a hurry and taken quick shots, we’ve gotten in a hurry and turned the ball over. That has cost us some ballgames. Today, we didn’t do that and it was the difference.”

Tenth-seeded Georgia faces No. 7 seed Missouri in the SEC tournament at 7 p.m. Thursday at Verizon Arena in Little Rock, Ark.

The Lady Bulldogs enjoyed their largest lead of the day at 37-25 with 14:41 remaining. Florida methodically chipped away and then used a 9-0 run covering just 92 seconds to grab a 43-41 lead, their first since 9-8.

Mackenzie Engram and Griffin nailed consecutive 3-pointers to put Georgia back on top, and Donald followed a Butler miss with the shot clock running down to put the Lady Bulldogs up 49-43 with 2:54 left.

Florida pulled within 49-45, but Butler canned both ends of a one-and-one with 17 seconds left and another free throw with seven ticks on the clock to secure the victory. Butler is now 17-of-19 from the line in the final 30 seconds of games this season.

Early on, it looked as if Georgia was in for a long afternoon. The Lady Bulldogs started slow and made just one of their first seven shots as the Gators raced to a 9-3 lead.

A pair of Griffin free throws at the 13:12 mark ignited a 7-0 run over the next 64 seconds that gave the Lady Bulldogs their first lead of the day at 10-9. Georgia continued its offensive surge and eventually gained a double-digit lead at 23-13 on a Griffin 3-pointer with 5:25 on the clock.

Florida closed the gap to six with 54 seconds left in the half, but Griffin’s third 3-pointer of the period with 10 ticks remaining gave the Lady Bulldogs a 29-18 edge at the intermission. That shot also was Griffin’s 55th make from behind the arc this season and pushed her past co-No. 10s Kelly Miller (1998-99) and Angela Puleo (2007-08) among Georgia’s all-time single-season leaders.

“Right after we got the lead in the first half, I thought we played kind of fast,” Landers said. “Florida didn’t score much, but they made enough baskets to cut into the lead and put a little pressure on us. I thought when ‘T’ dropped that 3 on them, it was a huge boost for us and gave us back the momentum going into the locker room.”

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