By Layne Weitzel, TTU Sports Information
ATHENS, Ga. – Tennessee Tech proved that it was not intimidated by the Southeastern Conference background or the home atmosphere of the Georgia Bulldogs on Monday night.
Tech fell to host Georgia 56-48 inside Stegeman Coliseum, but the win didn't come easy for UGA. The Golden Eagles held the undefeated Bulldogs (6-0) to their lowest point total of the season, outrebounded them 45-40 and limited them to 18 percent 3-point shooting and 37 percent from field goal range. Tech also forced 16 turnovers, which tied a season-high for Georgia.
Georgia led by just 25-20 at halftime, which marked its lowest halftime point total this season.
Tech cut the UGA lead to 50-44 with 56 seconds left in the game, forcing the Golden Eagles to foul to regain possession. Georgia earned six of its fourth-quarter points in made free throws late, which ultimately put the game out of reach as the clock ticked down.
The 8-point difference was the closest Tech has come to defeating Georgia in its 12-game series history since Dec. 12, 1999 when UGA won 77-72 in Cookeville. Monday night's game was also the tightest in Athens since Georgia beat Tech 79-62 on Feb. 2, 1994 – before any of Tech's current players were born.
"I can't say enough about our heart and fight our kids had tonight," said head coach Kim Rosamond. "Our kids battled and played hard, and as the game went on, I thought we kept battling and we never gave in. Georgia's a really good basketball team that's going to win a whole lot of games.
"I've got to give credit to our staff. This was coach Allison Clark's scout, and defensively I thought she had a great plan and mixed it up on them and played some man and some zone. In the end, we struggled in the second half keeping them off the offensive boards at some crucial times, but again, tonight was a step forward."
Senior Yaktavia "Shug" Hickson, playing near her hometown of Atlanta, led Tech with 14 points and six rebounds before fouling out late in the fourth quarter.
But Tech's performance on Monday was a group effort. Freshman MacKenzie Coleman, in her first career start, collected career-highs of 10 points and six rebounds and scored the first four points of the game for Tech. Fellow freshman Kesha Brady matched Coleman and Hickson with six rebounds. Lacy Cantrell totaled a season-high nine points off the bench. Akia Harris was on the floor for a team-high 39 minutes, handing out five assists before fouling out with Hickson.
"Our goal tonight was to come out and just be the best unit, the best team that we can be, and I thought you saw much more of a cohesive team tonight," said Rosamond. "If we can continue doing that, I don't think there's anybody in our league that we can't beat and we can't compete with."