SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — After blowing a 14-point lead and looking at a deficit with just a few minutes remaining, Georgia didn’t panic or get rattled. The Lady Bulldogs turned to a freshman that coach Andy Landers said, “doesn’t know any better,” and their do-everything senior.
Freshman Shacobia Barbee scored 20 points, including a key 3-pointer with 2:03 left, Anne Marie Armstrong added 13 and No. 4 seed Georgia held off Iowa State’s furious second-half rally for a 65-60 win over the Cyclones in the second round of the NCAA women’s tournament Monday night.
Georgia (27-6) watched all of its 51-37 lead evaporate under a barrage of shots finally dropping for the fifth-seeded Cyclones as part of a stunning 19-1 run that gave Iowa State a 56-52 lead with 2:30 remaining.
As good as Iowa State’s rally was, the Georgia response was even better, scoring 13 of the final 17 points to reach the round of 16 for the 20th time in school history. Eleven of those 13 points were scored by either Barbee or Armstrong.
“I don’t think there was ever a point we were worried. We knew that we needed to go out there and just buckle down on defense and everything will take care of itself,” Georgia’s Jasmine James said.
A year after getting upset in the first round by Marist, Georgia is back in the regional semifinals. The Lady Bulldogs will face No. 1 seed Stanford or eighth-seeded Michigan in the regional semifinals across town at the Spokane Arena on Saturday night. The Lady Bulldogs are staying in Spokane, rather than traveling back home.
Anna Prins led Iowa State with 23 points, but the Cyclones (24-9) couldn’t overcome going more than 11 minutes to open the second half with just one field goal. They certainly put a scare into Georgia and nearly pulled off a stunning rally.
“I got into them a little bit. Just challenged them to finish,” Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly said. “We take great pride in finishing everything we’ve done, good and bad. They gave themselves a chance to win and Georgiacame back and hit some good shots.”
Having scored just five points and falling behind by 14, the Cyclones went on huge run to take a four-point lead with 2:30 left after the 6-foot-7 Prins knocked down her second 3-pointer of the game.
But Georgia’s response was better, part of a frantic final few minutes. Barbee and Armstrong hit consecutive 3s to retake the lead for Georgia. Hallie Christofferson hit a 3 for Iowa State to take a 59-58 lead, but Armstrong scored underneath on a tough reverse layup with 57 seconds left to give Georgia the lead for good.
Iowa State’s Nikki Moody then missed a challenged shot in the lane and a jump-ball call gave possession to the Lady Bulldogs with 30.6 seconds left. Barbee split free throws to put Georgia up by two and Prins missed a 3-pointer with 18 seconds left. Barbee made two free throws and after Poppens split a pair, Georgia’s Jasmine James got open for a breakaway layup to clinch the win.
“Our players did a nice job of making plays throughout the game, particularly at the end of the game when we had lost the lead,” Landers said. “It was the kind of game we thought it would be.”
Georgia had only two players in double figures, but got contributions from throughout its roster.
The Lady Bulldogs entered the night ranked 208th nationally averaging just 4.4 3-pointers per game, but knocked down a season-high 12 as they tried to combat the Cyclones superior height advantage. Leading scorer Jasmine Hassell went scoreless for the first 27 minutes before scoring all seven of her points in the second half.
Barbee made 7 of 14 shots, including a trio of 3s. Jasmine James made only three 3-pointers in the first 32 games of the season, then knocked down two against the Cyclones. It was the most 3s attempted and made by Georgia in its NCAA tournament history.
“It’s been there all season. We just need to be consistent with it,” Barbee said. “Tonight we knew we had to knock down the big shots. You’re wide open, you had to hit it.”
Conversely, the Lady Bulldogs’ focus defensively was to give Iowa State points in the paint but challenge shots from the perimeter. Prins dominated on the interior, but the Cyclones were just 9 of 31 on 3s. Brynn Williamson, who had 17 points and five 3-pointers in Iowa State’s first-round win over Gonzaga, went scoreless missing all six 3-point attempts.
Chelsea Poppens added 14 points and 17 rebounds for Iowa State and Christofferson finished with 12 points. Iowa State missed its first seven shots of the second half and committed three turnovers before Prins scored on a hook in the lane with 12:44 left.
“It was a really fun stretch at the end when we started to hit shots and started to get back in the game. Unfortunately it didn’t end the way we wanted,” Prins said. “They made big plays at the end. You can always look back and say what if, what if. We gave it everything we had.”
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.