No. 17 Georgia 73, Denver 51
Jasmine Hassell had an obvious assessment for her team's success against Denver. The massive size advantage.
Hassell scored 16 of her 22 points in the first half while frontcourt mate Porsha Phillips had 18 points and 11 rebounds to help No. 18 Georgia beat Denver 73-51 in the semifinals of the Westside Thanksgiving Classic on Friday.
''I don't think they really have an answer for all of our post players,'' Hassell said. ''I think we all just worked really hard in the post tonight.''
Hassell started the game on the bench, but upon entering proved to be nearly unstoppable. The 6-foot-2 sophomore went 9 of 12 from the floor to match her career best in points in just 24 minutes of action.
She had no issue establishing herself in the paint, getting to the rim at will against the undersized Pioneers.
''She made herself available to the ball very, very well,'' Georgia coach Andy Landers said. ''And then when she got it, she kept it simple - just turn and score.''
Jasmine James added 17 points for the Bulldogs (4-1), who built up a double-digit lead midway through the first half and didn't look back.
Georgia will next play host Loyola Marymount in Saturday's tournament championship. LMU secured a 94-62 win over Stephen F. Austin in the other semifinal.
Britteni Rice finished with 12 points and Brianna Culberson had 10 for Denver (1-3), which suffered through a couple cold stretches on offense and shot 36.7 percent (18 of 49) for the game.
''We weren't good enough on the offensive end,'' Denver coach Erik Johnson said. ''You're not going to hold a team like that to 40 or 50 points, so we are going to need to score 70 points.
''So really, I think the game came down to our job on the offensive end.''
The Pioneers' biggest offensive deficiency came early on as they went scoreless for a span of nearly four minutes.
Hassell didn't waste the opportunity, scoring seven points during an 11-0 run that broke open a tie game and resulted in a 24-13 advantage with 10:34 left in the first half.
''I'm just trying to do what I'm supposed to do on the block and finish for our team,'' Hassell said.
Brianna Culberson snapped Denver's drought with a layup, but the Bulldogs had built a lead they wouldn't relinquish. Georgia led 41-29 at halftime.
With Hassell doing most of her damage in the opening 20 minutes, it was Phillips' turn after that.
Phillips scored 10 of her points in the second half and was heavily active on the defensive end during a key run of eight straight points for the Bulldogs.
''They didn't have an answer for Hassell, they didn't have an answer for Porsha and they didn't have an answer for Jasmine James,'' Landers said.
James made a 3-pointer to finish the spurt for her team's largest lead at 59-38 with 9:45 remaining.
The Pioneers got within 63-49 before Hassell made a layup to seal the win.
Denver faces Stephen F. Austin in the tournament's consolation game on Saturday.