ATHENS, Ga. -- The No. 19 Georgia Lady Bulldogs cruised past Alabama 64-47 on Sunday afternoon in their Southeastern Conference home opener at Stegeman Coliseum. Georgia improves to 13-2 on the year (1-1 SEC), while Alabama falls to 11-6 (0-2 SEC).
Tiaria Griffin led all scorers with 16 points for the Lady Bulldogs. Merritt Hempe added 15 points to Georgia's offensive output, shooting 9-for-10 from the line, and grabbed seven boards.
The Lady Bulldogs opened in decisive fashion, outscoring the Tide 23-7 in the first eight minutes of the game. Griffin accounted for 10 of those points, including six from 3-point range. Alabama closed the gap to 11 points at the 5:05 mark, but Georgia used a jumper from Hempe to spark a 9-1 run, giving the Lady Bulldogs a 41-23 advantage at the break.
"It was a game where we got off to a great start," head coach Andy Landers said. "I thought we were red hot defensively, red hot offensively and that set the tone. We built a lead and managed it the entire afternoon. I think one of the great things about the game was that we got to play a lot of people."
A Georgia defensive effort in the second stanza allowed it to maintain control of the game. Although the Lady Bulldogs tallied 15 turnovers in the second half, Georgia grabbed 19 defensive boards to the Tide's 11 and matched nearly every Alabama basket. Mackenzie Engram, who had seven points and six rebounds, sunk a 3-pointer with 6:24 to play, boosting Georgia to a 21-point lead, its largest of the game.
"The difference (today) was we put a whole game together. I think we played both halves," Griffin said.
Alabama's bench outscored Georgia 23-15, but the Lady Bulldogs took a 30-22 edge in points in the paint. The Lady Bulldogs posted higher shooting percentages across the court, shooting 46 percent to the Tide's 30 percent from field goal range, 36 to their 17 percent from 3-point range and 88 to their 46 percent from the line.
Georgia will return to action on Thursday, when the Lady Bulldogs host Missouri at 7 p.m. at Stegeman Coliseum.