ATHENS, Ga. (AP) With a freshman leading the way, Georgia showed it can compete with one of the Southeastern Conference’s top teams.
Mackenzie Engram scored 16 points off the bench and No. 22 Georgia held off No. 10 Texas A&M 54-51 on Thursday night to deny the Aggies another comeback win in the SEC.
Marjorie Butler had 11 points for Georgia (17-3, 5-2 SEC), including two free throws with 9.7 seconds remaining.
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Georgia earned its first win in five tries all-time against the Aggies.
The Aggies trailed at halftime in each of their four SEC wins, and they staged another comeback after trailing 27-21 at the break. Texas A&M took its last lead at 42-41.
Georgia’s poise in withstanding the comeback impressed both coaches.
”We have a resolve about us,” said Georgia coach Andy Landers. ”We come back and play very well. We stay the course.”
Texas A&M coach Gary Blair said Georgia’s zone defense and the strong play by Engram were the keys.
”This is the best Andy’s team has looked, I think, in three years,” Blair said.
Jordan Jones, who had 11 points, missed a last-second 3-pointer for Texas A&M (16-4, 4-2 SEC) that would have tied it. Courtney Walker scored 12 points and Courtney Williams had 11 for the Aggies.
Engram played 22 minutes – more than her combined total in Georgia’s previous three conference games. She added seven rebounds, including a game-high five on the offensive end.
”The best thing about Mackenzie’s game was that she executed,” Landers said. ”She actually did the things that we needed to do, and with freshman that’s a process. … Mackenzie was terrific for us.”
With Georgia leading 52-49, a missed jumper by Tiaria Griffin went out of bounds, giving the Aggies possession with 31 seconds remaining. The teams traded timeouts before Williams’ long jumper with 18 seconds remaining cut the Georgia lead to one point.
A video review by the officials showed Williams’ foot was on the 3-point line.
Butler’s free throws padded the lead, forcing the Aggies to play for a 3-pointer on their final possession.
Texas A&M rallied from halftime deficits in its four SEC wins and six times overall this season.
The Aggies’ defense held Georgia to 25-percent shooting in the second half, setting the stage for another comeback after the Lady Bulldogs led 27-21 at the break.
”I thought we were going to do it again,” Blair said of the comeback bid.
Texas A&M: Junior Chelsea Jennings, who did not play in the first half, had four points. She made two straight baskets early in the second half to help the Aggies’ comeback. … Williams entered the game tied with South Carolina’s Tiffany Mitchell for the SEC lead with her average of 16 points in league games.
Georgia: Texas A&M was the first of four straight Top 25 opponents on the Lady Bulldogs’ schedule, including games at No. 5 Tennessee and No. 14 Kentucky and a home game against No. 1 South Carolina. … With Sunday’s win over Vanderbilt, Georgia already is guaranteed its 36th straight winning season, the third-longest streak in the nation.
Blair said he told Landers before the game to expect a low-scoring pace.
”I told Andy before the ballgame the first team to hit 50 wins,” Blair said.
Shacobia Barbee, who leads Georgia with 12.4 points per game, was scoreless until she made one of two free throws with 10:49 remaining. Barbee finished with five points while making only one of eight shots from the field. She led Georgia with four assists and two steals.