Feb. 13, 2003
By PAUL NEWBERRY
AP Sports Writer
ATHENS, Ga. – Mary Beth Lycett rubbed her aching feet. Christi Thomas slumped in her seat. Alexis Kendrick moaned when she saw 48 minutes beside her name on the stat sheet.
“I’m worn out,” Lycett said.
With good reason. No. 14 Georgia had to overcome a 19-point deficit in regulation, then needed two overtimes to finally beat 15th-ranked South Carolina 97-91 on Thursday night.
Lycett, who made six 3-pointers and finished with 19 points, sparked her teammates with a fiery speech at halftime – out of character for the team’s only senior starter.
“She wasn’t fired up – she was mad,” said Kendrick, a freshman point guard. “I had not seen that side of her. She motivated us to give it our all. We didn’t even look like we wanted it in the first half.”
Kara Braxton also scored 19 points for the Lady Bulldogs (17-5, 8-1 Southeastern Conference), who completed a season sweep of the Gamecocks (17-6, 5-5).
Georgia led 72-69 when the horn sounded as the ball rolled out of bounds at the end of regulation. But the officials put four-tenths of a second back on the clock after reviewing the replay.
Petra Ujhelyi took the inbounds pass and somehow got off a 3-pointer before the buzzer went off a second time. Once again, the officials huddled in front of a TV monitor before determining that Ujhelyi released the shot in time.
“Honestly, I can’t believe that went in,” Lycett said. “I didn’t think it was possible to get off a shot in four-tenths of a second.”
The Gamecocks tied it again 82-82 on Cristina Ciocan’s runner in the lane with 2.7 seconds left in the first overtime. Lycett threw away the ensuing inbounds pass, giving South Carolina a chance to win, but Ciocan put up an airball from outside the arc to force another overtime.
This time, Georgia went ahead for good when Sherrill Baker’s jumper made it 87-85 with 2:29 remaining. Lycett hit her sixth 3-pointer to give the Lady Bulldogs a five-point lead, and Thomas got loose on the inside for a basket that sealed the victory with 46 seconds to go.
“Our team came out attacking,” South Carolina coach Susan Walvius said. “I don’t think we played with the same intensity in the second half.”
Six players were in double figures for the Lady Bulldogs. Thomas had 18 points – along with 15 rebounds to tie her career high – while Kendrick scored 16, Baker 12 and Jessica Pierce 11.
Braxton also had a double-double, grabbing 11 rebounds.
Ciocan led South Carolina with 21 points. Ujhelyi added 18 points and 12 rebounds, while Jocelyn Penn scored 16. Ciocan and Penn both fouled out, as did teammate Koretha Johnson, leaving the Lady Gamecocks with no hope of forcing a third overtime.
Georgia got off to an awful start, shooting just 30 percent in the first half and falling behind 42-23 late in the period. Making matters worse, starter Marquita Driskell was knocked out in the opening minutes when Ujhelyi landed on the Georgia player’s left shoulder while scrambling for a loose ball.
Driskell watched the second half with her arm in a sling. Doctors will re-examine her shoulder Friday to determine the seriousness of the injury.
South Carolina was still up 47-32 when the Lady Bulldogs reeled off a 13-0 spurt that turned the momentum. Thomas and Braxton scored four points apiece during the run and Baker finished it with a driving basket that brought Georgia to within 49-47.
Georgia finally took its first lead, 61-59, on Baker’s basket with 3:37 left in regulation.
“We challenged each other at halftime,” Lycett said. “We got in each other’s faces. That’s never happened before. I think it’s because we’re such good friends. But we were embarrassing ourselves out there.”