Georgia wins shootout against Western Carolina 85-79

Georgia during a game against Western Carolina at Stegeman Coliseum in Athens, Ga., on Monday, Dec. 20, 2021. (Photo by Mackenzie Miles)

Credit: Mackenzie Miles

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Georgia during a game against Western Carolina at Stegeman Coliseum in Athens, Ga., on Monday, Dec. 20, 2021. (Photo by Mackenzie Miles)

Credit: Mackenzie Miles

The Georgia Bulldogs survived an 85-79 nail-biter against the Western Carolina University Catamounts at Stegeman Coliseum Monday, in a game that featured spectacular three-point shooting by both teams.

Georgia guard Aaron Cook hit a three-pointer to open the game, and the Bulldogs held the lead for the whole first half, although the Catamounts kept the score close with steady play and three-point marksmanship from guards Nicholas Robinson, Travion McCray and Tyler Harris.

A back-and-forth battle

At the outset, the Bulldogs led by as much as 11, and had a 10-point lead with 7:15 to go in the first half, but the Cats pulled within 5 after a couple of Robinson free throws and a layup by forward Marlow Gilmore, making it 28-23 with 5:08 before the buzzer.

Georgia then made it 30-23 after banking two free throws from guard Braelen Bridges, but Carolina came right back with two layups including one from a steal off Cook, leading to a basket by McCray to make it 30-27 Bulldogs.

The Cats scored another 2-point basket before a three-pointer by guard Jabri Abdur-Rahim put Georgia up 33-29 with a little over a minute to go in the half.

The Cats however refused to let up and tallied 2 more points off a Vonterius Woolbright jumper, making the score 31-33 Georgia.

The back-and-forth continued as Georgia’s Dalen Ridgnal scored a layup with 40 seconds left in the half, making it 35-31 Georgia.

The Catamounts’ Marvin Price hit a 2-point jumper and time expired on a missed three-pointer by Abdur-Rahim, and Georgia led the Cats 35-33 at the half.

Second half

Georgia’s Noah Baumann opened the second half with a 3-point basket, which was quickly followed by a Cats layup on the other end of the court, making the score 38-35 Dawgs.

After several back-to-back field goals by both teams, the Cats tied the score at 44-all on a Joe Petrakis 3-pointer.

Catamounts take the lead

Georgia then managed to pull away by 6, but the Cats stayed hot and took the first lead of the game 53-52 on a Marvin Price 3-point shot with 12:01 remaining. However, the lead was short-lived as Aaron Cook came right back down the court and sank a 3-point basket to give the lead back to Georgia 55-53.

After another Georgia field goal, Nicholas Robinson put Western Carolina back within 1, and then McCray gave the Cats its second lead of the game, 59-57 with 9:13 remaining.

The score again tied at 59 off a pair of free throws from Georgia’s Bridges with 8:29 remaining.

From there, Georgia never surrendered the lead again.

How it ended

With 4:54 to go, Georgia built a 67-62 lead, and extended the lead to 73-64 on two crucial 3-pointers by Kario Oquendo and Noah Baumann. Western Carolina answered the call on back-to-back 3-pointers by Marvin Price, and with 2:56 remaining, Georgia led 75-70.

The Bulldogs then went ahead 85-77 on a dunk by Oquendo, and time expired on a final layup by Western Carolina’s Petrakis for a final score of 85-79.

For Georgia, Oquendo led the team with 21 points; Braelen Bridges was 5-for-7 in field goals for 17 points; and Aaron Cook had 13 points. Abdur-Rahim ended the night with 9 points.

For Western Carolina, Travion McCray came off the bench for 20 points, including three 3-pointers; Robinson was 5-for-14 for 14 points; followed by Marvin Price (13 points), Vonterius Woolbright (12 points), and Petrakis (11 points).