Cats Fall to No. 19 Georgia, 73-62
ATHENS, Ga. (AP) -- When it looked like Kentucky might overtake No. 19 Georgia, the Lady Dogs turned to an old ``warrior''.
For six minutes of the second half, it was like old times for oft-injured Ebony Felder.
Sherill Baker scored 19 points, but it was Felder's spark that helped Georgia fight off a Kentucky comeback for a 73-62 victory Sunday in the teams' final game before the Southeastern Conference tournament.
Georgia (19-8, 8-6 SEC) tied for fourth in the standings, but Florida earned the fourth seed for the SEC Tournament by virtue of its 71-60 win Sunday at No. 18 Auburn.
As the fifth seed, Georgia will open against last-place South Carolina Thursday in Nashville, Tenn.
``She's a warrior,'' coach Andy Landers said of Felder. ``If it had not been for her, we would have been in serious trouble. She takes the ball and challenges you. The long and short of it is that she is going to come right at you.''
Georgia was clinging to a 53-52 lead with 10 minutes to play. Over the next six minutes, Felder scored seven of her season-high nine points. Plus her steal and feed to Baker for a breakaway layup started a 20-4 run that cemented the win. Felder also grabbed a season-high seven rebounds.
Felder missed the first 20 games of the season with chronic knee injuries, and she still plays in pain.
``I felt I stepped up and made some stuff happen,'' said Felder, who played a season-high 20 minutes. ``We were not ready to lose or to go to overtime.''
Senior Christi Thomas, playing her last home game, had 15 points and 12 rebounds, and Alexis Kendrick added 10 points and 10 assists. Janese Hardrick had 14 points, hitting a career-high four 3-pointers.
Sara Potts led Kentucky (11-16, 3-11 SEC) with 23 points, while Danyelle Payne added 13 points, and Keiko Tate 11. The Wildcats are the 11th seed entering the tournament and will open against Vanderbilt.
Kentucky started both halves poorly. Georgia took an 18-1 lead on the strength of three 3s by Hardrick. Kentucky did not score its first field goal until Racquel Ellis completed a three-point play five minutes into the game.
However, the Wildcats gradually closed the gap, pulling to within four at 31-27 after Shambrica Jones scored with 8:01 remaining in the first half. Two baskets each by Hardrick and Cori Chambers helped Georgia hold the lead, 44-38 at halftime.
The second half was not as dramatic, with Georgia scoring the first nine points and building a 53-38 lead with 15:42. The Wildcats responded with a 14-0 run of their own, keyed by three layups by Tate, to close the gap to 53-52. During the run, Thomas picked up fouls three and four and was sent to the bench for six minutes.
``We are inconsistent,'' said Landers. ``A lot of it is impatience, and some of it is undeveloped talent. Passing is one of the areas our guards can improve in. We are still going to hit the scoreboard some times while feeding the post.''
``I thought our kids battled really hard,'' said Kentucky coach Mickie DeMoss. ``But the last six or seven minites of the game, we basically ran out of steam. Depth was a big problem, as it has been all year.''
With a loss Georgia could have dropped as far as seventh in the tournament seeding.
``That is not what we are all about,'' said Landers. ``I want us to get back to where we are concerned with whether we are the fourth or fifth seed nationally. When the season started, I didn't envision this team being a 19-8 team. We have slipped. The team knows it, and I know it. I have to evaluate, and they have to evaluate, and we have to change some things.''
All-SEC candidate Sara Potts became the 24th member of UK’s 1,000-point club with her second three-pointer at the 8:41 mark in the first half vs. Georgia. She is just the 10th Wildcat in school history to reach the century mark in her junior season. Potts led all scorers with 23 points against the Lady Dogs and nailed five three-pointers for the second straight game.