LOS ANGELES - The Georgia Lady Bulldog basketball team led for 30 minutes but could not withstand a furious UCLA comeback in an 80-69 loss on Wednesday at the legendary Pauley Pavilion.
Georgia built a 12-point advantage and led most of the way, but the Bruins, a 2018 NCAA Elite Eight team, outscored the Lady Bulldogs 31-18 in the fourth to take the win. Taja Cole led Georgia with 22 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists, while Gabby Connally added 19 points.
"When they finally took the lead for the first time we panicked," head coach Joni Taylor said. "We did not rely on our offense. I wanted to see what we would do against a good team like this on the road and this was a great test. Today, we did not handle adversity down the stretch and we will learn from this."
UCLA jumped out to an 8-5 lead midway through the first quarter, but Georgia used a trio of scorers to retake the lead. Cole and Caliya Robinson hit a pair of baskets to go along with a Caldwell 3-pointer to give the Lady Bulldogs a 14-10 advantage with 2:36 left in the first frame.
Georgia went on an 11-0 run and led 22-12 at the end of one. Cole and Robinson finished the opening period with six points a piece as the Lady Bulldogs hit 59 percent of their shots.
Japreece Dean and Michaela Onyenwere scored four and five points a piece to cut the Lady Bulldogs' lead to 27-20 to begin the second quarter. UCLA inched closer but Georgia was able to stave off the Bruins as Connally knocked in three 3-pointers to give Georgia the 40-31 edge going into the break.
Kennedy Burke scored UCLA's first six points of the second half, while Georgia went on a near four-minute scoring drought. An Onyenwere basket cut Georgia's lead to just two with 2:29 on the third quarter clock, but Cole hit runner in the lane to push Georgia back up by four as her team clung to a 51-49 lead at the end of three.
The Lady Bulldogs then got in foul trouble as UCLA built a 70-65 lead with just over two minutes on the clock. Georgia then committed six turnovers in the final two minutes in the 80-69 loss.
Next up, Georgia heads to Georgia Tech for a 2 p.m. ET tip on Sunday.