Bulldogs use strong first half to fuel win against Saint Joseph’s at Sunshine Slam
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The Georgia Bulldogs created enough separation in the first half to fend off the Saint Joseph’s Hawks’ comeback attempts in the second, winning the game 66-53 on Monday evening at the Ocean Center and advancing to the championship of the Greenlight Sunshine Slam.
Georgia’s bench impressed, putting up 29 of its 66 points. In total, the Bulldogs had four players scoring in double figures, led by Kario Oquendo with 15 points going 6-of-7 from the free throw line. Jabri Abdur-Rahim, Justin Hill and Terry Roberts all added 12 points of their own, with Abdur-Rahim and Hill playing just 16 and 18 minutes, respectively.
Georgia’s championship game in the Sunshine Slam is tomorrow against UAB at 4 p.m. ET and will be televised on the CBS Sports Network. This will mark the first game between the Bulldogs and the Blazers since December 3, 2010, in which Georgia won 66-64. UGA holds a 3-1 record against UAB all-time.
“Our level of urgency [in the first half] was high,” said head coach Mike White. “I think there was a big difference in our communication between half one and half two. In half one, it was about as sharp as it had been in any game or practice.”
Georgia led 10-4 heading into the first media timeout, with Roberts leading the Bulldogs early with six points. After returning from the break, Abdur-Rahim was fouled on a three-point attempt and cashed in each of his free throws, extending a UGA scoring run to nine straight.
Abdur-Rahim then sank back-to-back deep balls and forced a timeout from St. Joseph’s, putting Georgia ahead 26-13 with 6:22 remaining in the opening half. He led all scorers in the first half with 12 points while going three-of-five from the three-point line in just 10 minutes.
Georgia led 38-15 heading into the locker room, holding the Hawks to just 21.9% shooting from the field and collecting five steals. The team closed the half on a 20-2 over the final eight minutes. With only 15 points scored by the opponent in the first half, it marked the fewest Georgia allowed in a half since holding Kansas State to 12 in the opening frame on December 31, 2014.
Saint Joseph’s came out aggressive in the first 70 seconds of the second half, forcing a quick timeout from the Bulldogs. The Hawks’ defensive adjustments between each half proved to stifle the Georgia offense. Over the first eight minutes, Saint Joseph’s outscored the Bulldogs 13-3 and shrunk its deficit to just 13 at the under-12 media timeout.
Defense defined the remainder of the half on both sides, with only three field goals made between the 10- and five-minute mark of the second half. However, Saint Joseph’s cut the lead to single digits for the first time since 8:04 in the first half after making a pair of free throws with 2:12 left in the contest.
Georgia managed to respond, though. Matthew-Alexander Moncrieffe found an open Hill on the perimeter to make a three and put the Bulldogs up 57-46. Despite the Hawks’ best efforts to come back, Georgia managed to pull out the win in the end after making shots at the charity stripe down the stretch by a 66-53 margin.
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