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Jan. 19, 2003

AP Sports Writer

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Christi Thomas scored 19 points and had 14 rebounds as Georgia defeated No. 14 South Carolina 67-59 Sunday for its sixth straight victory.

Freshman Alexis Kendrick had a 3-pointer and two foul shots in the in final 1:17 to seal the win. Thomas scored 12 straight points in the second half to put the Lady Bulldogs (12-4, 3-0 Southeastern Conference) ahead.

Jocelyn Penn, who entered the game as the nation’s leading scorer at 27.3 points a game, had 21 of her 23 points in the second half for South Carolina (14-3, 2-2), which has lost two of its last three.

Georgia had control at halftime with an 32-19 lead. But with Penn finding her stroke, the Gamecocks cut the margin to 44-43.

That’s when Thomas began to shine.

The junior started things with a three-point play. After Penn’s inside shot with 6:12 left gave South Carolina its first lead since the game’s early minutes, Thomas answered with another bucket to regain the lead.

Petra Ujhelyi had an inside layup to again put South Carolina in front. But Thomas followed with two foul shots for Georgia. Another three-point from Thomas made it 56-52 with 3:53 left.

Penn wasn’t finished. Her line-drive 3-pointer brought the Gamecocks to 58-57. But this time Kendrick made the big shot, hitting her 3-pointer with 1:17 left.

South Carolina made only one more bucket after that.

Kendrick finished with 18 points and six assists.

Georgia’s aggressive defense bottled up Penn and the Gamecocks in the first half.

South Carolina averages just more than 18 turnovers a game, yet had 14 in the opening period. Penn got two fouls early and made only one of her four shots for two points by the break. The team didn’t fare much better from the field, starting 3-of-12 and finishing at 29.2 percent (7-of-24).

The Lady Bulldogs closed the first half with a 13-0 run. Six different Georgia players scored during the surge, which finished on Sherill Baker’s jumper with 4.9 seconds left.