Nov 29, 2003
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) - Once Georgia fell behind for the first time this season, junior center Kara Braxton knew her team had to turn to defense. The offense wasn't bad either.
Braxton had 21 points and 12 rebounds to help No. 10 Georgia turn back an upset bid in a 77-65 victory Friday night over host Santa Clara.
``All we had to do was settle down and get back into the flow of things,'' said Braxton, who picked up her third double-double of the season and 15th of her career. ``Our defense was the main factor.''
The Bulldogs outscored Santa Clara 16-3 in the final four minutes to pull away.
``Although we play a couple of freshmen, this is a veteran team who has been there,'' Georgia Coach Andy Landers said. ``I thought we rebounded well and defended better down the stretch. That's what basically wins basketball games.''
Christi Thomas added 18 points as the Bulldogs (3-0) won their second consecutive road game. Jessica Pierce added 12 points.
Michelle Cozad scored 15 of her 22 points in the first half as the Broncos (1-2) lost their second in a row at home. Santa Clara had not lost its first two home games since the 1977-78 season, when SCU finished 4-20. Whitney Sutak had 13 points and Jennie Rondel added 10.
``We had a few turnovers, but we played an awesome game,'' Cozad said. ``We just kept fighting back.''
Sutak sparked a 13-2 run that gave Santa Clara a 58-56 lead with 6:54 remaining. The senior guard scored seven points during the run, including a key three-pointer.
``We were right there until the final minute,'' said Broncos Coach Michelle Bento-Jackson. ``Their big kids really hurt us and made some tough shots. We were just beating ourselves in the last two minutes.''
Four lead changes later, Thomas put the Bulldogs ahead for good with a short jumper with 4:15 to play.
The game remained in doubt into the final minute. Sherrill Baker, who finished with 11 points, made a steal and basket to help secure the victory.
``Baker's play was terrific,'' Landers said. ``When your defense is good, like hers was, it creates the easiest shot in the game.''
Tori Markey's baseline jumper brought the Broncos to 40-35 two minutes into the second half.
Santa Clara, without two of its regulars and using its third starting lineup in three games, remained within striking distance as the Bulldogs went cold from the field. After making 13 of its first 24 shots, Georgia made eight of its next 24.
Braxton's inside jumper gave Georgia its biggest lead of the first half at 30-13, and it highlighted a 14-3 Bulldogs run.
Santa Clara responded with its own run, closing to 32-24 with 3:39 left in the half on a short jumper from Markey.
Georgia, which plays at Stanford on Sunday, went on a late run to open a 37-28 lead at halftime.