ATHENS – Fifth-year forward Diamond Battles’ ninth double figure point performance of the season eclipsed her 1,000 career point milestone and led the University of Georgia women’s basketball team to a 40-point win, 84-44, over Mercer on Wednesday morning in Stegeman Coliseum.
Battles led the team in scoring with 15 points. Senior forward Javyn Nicholson followed in scoring with 13 points, and fifth-year Malury Bates added 10. Junior forward Zoesha Smith led Georgia with 10 boards, tying her career high. Freshman forward Amiya Evans set a career high in rebounds (8) and tied her season high in scoring with two points. Fifth-year forward Kari Niblack made her Lady Bulldog debut against the Bears and tallied nine points and five rebounds.
“It was a different team compared to Monday, but I think defense, no matter what anybody thinks, defense wins games” Georgia head coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson said. “Defense wins games in football, defense wins games in baseball, defense wins games in basketball, and anywhere else so we’re a work in progress, we’re going to get better every single game. I always want us to play to the last minute of the game. My number one thing is for us to play good defense, get stops, get rebounds, get loose balls, get everything.”
Mercer won the tip, but the Lady Bulldogs controlled the opening minutes of the game. Led by strong defense, Georgia went on an 13-0 run, forcing five turnovers and a Mercer timeout. The Lady Bulldogs outscored the Bears in the paint, 18-0, to build a 14-point lead, 25-11, in the first quarter.
A low-scoring start to the second quarter was broken by a 12-0 run by the Lady Bulldogs, highlighted by a jumper from Battles to score her 1,000th career point. Georgia outscored Mercer off the bench 20-2. The Lady Bulldogs were 59% from the field in the first half and held Mercer to seven points in the second quarter as they took a 45-18 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Seven points from Battles fueled the Lady Bulldogs’ offense to lead off the second half. Nicholson followed Battles with seven points in bottom half of the frame, including two of Georgia’s 13 points off fastbreaks. The Lady Bulldogs brought a 34-point lead into the final quarter of play.
Five unanswered points from the Lady Bulldogs increased Georgia’s lead. Georgia kept control of the game, limiting Mercer to six rebounds in the fourth quarter. Niblack rattled off five of the Lady Bulldogs’ final eight points to give Georgia its final 40-point edge.
The Lady Bulldogs will be back in Stegeman Coliseum on Dec. 17 when they host Belmont. Tip-off will be at 2 p.m. The game will be streamed on SEC Network +.