Georgia held Florida State to 26.9% shooting overall and 27.6% on 3-pointers in the Bulldogs’ 66-54 first-round victory Friday in the NCAA Tournament in Iowa State, Iowa.
Now Georgia, 22-11 and the 10th seed in Seattle Regional 4, faces a much bigger test in the second round Sunday.
UGA plays second-seeded Iowa (27-6), which led the nation in scoring at 87.5 points per game and in field-goal percentage at 51.1%. The Hawkeyes also shot 37.2% in 3-pointers, 10th best in the nation.
Georgia coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson obviously has a plan for facing Iowa but she isn’t giving it away.
“We try to just do us and play us,” Abrahamson-Henderson said. “That’s always our goal. So you know, dependent on if we are going to press or not in this game, that will change a little of the dynamics. Clearly I’m not giving you all my secrets, people.”
Iowa guard Caitlin Clark, an Associated Press first-team All-American, will be the biggest concern for the Bulldogs. She leads the nation with 8.5 assists per game.
“She makes you change what you have in your game plan,” Georgia guard Diamond Battles said.
“Amazing. Amazing,” Abrahamson-Henderson said of Clark. “I mean, she’s one of the best players in the country for sure.”
The Hawkeyes will have to deal with Georgia’s height advantage, especially with the double-post offense the Lady Bulldogs run.
“They’re a very physical team,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. “We can’t grow overnight, so we have to be able to handle it.”
Iowa used a zone defense in the second half of its 95-43 first-round win over Southeastern Louisiana Friday. It’s likely the Hawkeyes will use that on Sunday too.
“I think in the second half, we played all zone, and our zone caused them a lot of problems, and I think that’s something we can feed off going into Georgia,” Clark said. “I think our zone defense could be really good playing them. Obviously we’re going to try a lot of different things, but I think there’s a lot we can take away from our zone defense being really good.”
The Hawkeyes remember the disappointment of last season, when they were a No. 2 seed and lost in the second round to 10 seed Creighton.
“I definitely feel like something was taken from us last season,” Iowa center Monika Czinano said. “But I’m not letting that loss last year haunt me. That was last year, this is this year.”
Sunday’s game will be played at 3 p.m. in front of a sellout crowd of 14,382 and televised by ABC.
“Like I said the other day, every D-I athlete lives for this moment, whether they are cheering for you or cheering against you,” Battles said. “You get to play in front of a sold-out arena, who wouldn’t want to do that? The lights are on and it’s time to show up. I think our team is locked and loaded and we are ready to show up and put on a show.”
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Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC