MINNEAPOLIS -- There was nothing pretty about Georgia's
victory over pesky Belmont in the first round of the NCAA
Tournament on Saturday.
And the Lady Bulldogs know that they'll be heading home early if
they put up another performance similar to this one on Monday
night against Iowa State.
The tournament-tested Lady Bulldogs held the newcomers from
Nashville to one field goal in the final 15:22 of an ugly 53-36 win
at Williams Arena.
"We definitely have to step it up," Georgia forward Christy
Marshall said. "We can't go into the second round playing like
that. If we want to stick around, we have to play harder."
Ashley Houts had 10 points and six assists for Georgia, which
held the Bruins to 20 percent shooting and forced 22 turnovers.
Gritty Belmont (25-7) withstood an early shot from the Bulldogs,
turning the game into a sloppy turnover fest that kept it close in
the second half.
The two teams combined to miss 82 shots and turn the ball over
"We're guarding people, we're hitting shots, then we started
missing shots and, the more we missed, the less we attacked on the
defensive end," coach Andy Landers said. "That's unfortunate, but
that's where it was."
With the Hall of Fame coach throwing his hands up in disgust for
much of the game, third-seeded Georgia (26-6) took over the game on
defense to advance to play sixth-seeded Iowa State on Monday night.
Alysha Clark led Belmont with 12 points and 13 rebounds, but the
Bruins were just 1-for-25 on 3-pointers.
"We had wide-open shots, we just couldn't knock them down,"
Clark said. "If we would have been hitting our shots, it would
have been a different game."
The game looked like a monumental mismatch on paper, with
Georgia making its 24th appearance in the NCAA Tournament and
Belmont here for the first time.
That's not all.
Georgia has won 765 games in 28 seasons under Landers, who
coached his 1,000th game Saturday. He knows how to handle the
distractions of the NCAA Tournament, having led the Bulldogs to 13
straight berths, and 16 rounds of 16 and five Final Fours in his
Few casual basketball fans even know where Belmont is on a map.
The small school of about 4,500 students in Nashville, Tenn.,
has only been playing Division I basketball for 10 years since
making the jump from the NAIA in 1997.
Even the little things got in Bruins' way on their first trip to
the big one. Belmont coach Tony Cross marveled on Friday at all the
paperwork his team had to fill out, calling it "kind of
But the loss did little to temper the Bruins' enthusiasm.
"It helps our program," Belmont forward Tereva Moore said.
"It lets people know where Belmont is. We're going to be back. It
gives us confidence."
The Bruins looked predictably starry-eyed in the first 2½ minutes, falling behind 11-0 and missing their first seven shots.
"I've never been shut out, so I figured we were going to score
sometime, hopefully sooner or later," Cross deadpanned.
They didn't give up.
The Bruins trailed by 12 points at halftime, but outscored
Georgia 11-4 in the first six minutes to cut the lead to 34-29.
They frustrated Bulldogs star Tasha Humphrey, who came into the
game averaging 16.1 points and 8.0 rebounds but scored just nine
points on 3-for-10 shooting.
Belmont also out-rebounded Georgia 46-39 and grabbed 20
"The problem was we didn't clean up after ourselves," Landers
said. "We played reasonably good defense, but allowed them to get
to the offensive boards far, far, far too many times."