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Lady Bulldogs ousted in first round of tourney
Georgia's Danielle Taylor reacts during the first half against Arizona State on Saturday at the Gwinnett Arena in Duluth. - photo by John Bazemore

DULUTH — Georgia had the home fans and another advantage: Arizona State was missing its point guard.

The equalizer was Arizona State's defense.

Arizona State held Georgia to 20 first-half points to beat the Lady Bulldogs 58-47 in the NCAA tournament's opening round Saturday.

"I thought we played tremendous defense," said Arizona State coach Charli Turner Thorne, who added her team's game plan was to take away Georgia's inside game.

Georgia center Angel Robinson had 9 points and 9 rebounds. Arizona State took a 34-27 advantage in rebounds.

The sixth-seeded Sun Devils entered the tourney with a two-game losing streak after point guard Dymond Simon tore a ligament in her left knee. Arizona State won easily, despite fill-in starter Kate Engelbrecht scoring only three points with no assists and two turnovers.

"Obviously, we've been through a lot of transition as a team, losing Dymond Simon," Turner Thorne said. "I couldn't be more proud of our team for just regrouping, everybody stepping up and playing great team basketball."

Arizona State (24-8) led 27-20 at halftime and stretched the lead to 16 at 44-28. Christy Marshall scored for No. 11 seed Georgia (18-14) with 4:45 remaining to cut the lead to 48-41. Kayli Murphy, who had 12 points and 11 rebounds, scored Arizona State's next three baskets to push the lead back to double digits.

"We just called timeout, regrouped, and really just locked down on defense and tried to run the floor and pick it up on our side," Murphy said.

Lauren Lacey and Becca Tobin also had 12 points each for Arizona State.

Georgia, which struggled to find shots, had 19 turnovers, made only 40 percent of its shots from the field and had no scorer in double figures.

Angela Puleo and Porsha Phillips each had 9 points for Georgia, playing in its 15th straight NCAA tournament.

The Lady Bulldogs, playing only an hour from their campus, had the support of the majority of the 2,027 fans, but that advantage didn't help Georgia find good shots against the Sun Devils' tough defense.

The Sun Devils led the Pac-10 by allowing 53 points per game while setting the conference record for fewest points allowed in a game in a 75-23 win over UC Irvine.

Only a late scoring flurry by Ashley Houts saved Georgia from setting a season low for points in the first half.
Houts had eight points while hitting two 3-pointers in the final 2:02 to cut Arizona State's lead to 27-20 at halftime but didn't score in the second half.

Briann January, the two-time Pac-10 defensive player of the year, led the defensive effort against Houts, who had four assists and four turnovers.

Georgia coach Andy Landers said he was disappointed with his team's effort.

"This is about being competitive," Landers said. "This is about laying your ears back and bringing the fight to the big show. That's where my disappointment is."

Said Phillips: "We didn't play hard. We just got out-hustled."

Landers said his team's passiveness might have encouraged the Sun Devils.

"I'm really disappointed with this," he said. "I hope nothing from this game carries over to next year."

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