Challenging shots, trapping away from the basket and forcing Georgia Tech to negotiate a thicket of long-armed bodies, Georgia overwhelmed its archrival with a withering defensive effort Sunday at McCamish Pavilion.

The Lady Bulldogs bested Tech 66-52, holding Tech to 40.4% shooting from the field and forcing 18 turnovers that were converted into 18 points.

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“That’s what we talk about – our defense always creates our offense,” said UGA first-year coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson, a former Lady Bulldogs player who won her debut game in the rivalry as coach. “When we play the way we play, we just really want to cause havoc all the time.”

Georgia (5-0) remained unbeaten under Abrahamson-Henderson with its first win over a power conference opponent and first away from Stegeman Coliseum. While the Lady Bulldogs upped their record in Clean Old-Fashioned Hate to 37-8, the Jackets had won three of the previous four meetings in the rivalry. Satisfied Georgia fans, part of an announced crowd of 2,384, filled McCamish with chants of “UGA! UGA!” as the final seconds wound down.

“Our energy was just immaculate,” UGA guard Diamond Battles said. “We came together whether we made a mistake or not, we stayed together. The energy was still high after our mistakes. We were a really good team (Sunday). We were a great team (Sunday).”

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Tech (3-1) dropped its first game of the season. Its 52-point output was its low for the season.

“Right now, we just have to deal with the disappointment of the loss, and we have to get better and we will,” Jackets coach Nell Fortner said.

Georgia’s defense was central to a 12-2 run that bridged the third and fourth quarters and created a 57-44 lead that proved unassailable. A string of Tech misses led to open-court chances that Georgia was able to convert.

“Just play defense,” Battles said of her coach’s defense-first mentality. “No matter if we’re not scoring on offense, if it’s not going our way, you have to play defense. You play defense the majority of the game. So she’s really (honed) in on that, just playing defense. When all else fails, play defense.”

Fortner lamented her team’s inability to get the ball up the court against the UGA press.

“We struggled with breaking the press, and it created a lot of problems for us,” she said. “It was a long day trying to get the ball down the floor.”

Georgia forward Zoesha Smith led all scorers with a career-high 21 points on 10-for-13 shooting from the field to go with 10 rebounds (also a career high) and four steals. Smith, who had never played more than 20 minutes in a game in her career prior to this season, has set scoring career highs in four of Georgia’s five games.

“Of course, Zoesha, she stepped up tremendously,” Battles said. “She played a heck of a game.”

Battles, who came with Abrahamson-Henderson from Central Florida, added 14, compensating for 3-for-15 shooting from the field with an 8-for-10 effort from the line.

“Down the stretch there, she was drawing a bunch of fouls and making the free throws, so that really helped us,” Abrahamson-Henderson said.

For the Jackets, guard Cameron Swartz led with 15 points on 6-for-15 shooting from the field. Guard Bianca Jackson went for 12 points with four steals and four assists but also turned the ball over seven times.

Tech, which has also proved itself a formidable defensive team in Fortner’s tenure, held Georgia to 34.4% shooting in the first half, which ended with the Lady Bulldogs holding a 29-26 lead.

But with easy transition baskets off misses and patient offense in the half-court, Georgia shot 17-for-30 (56.7%) in the second half and scored 30 of its 37 points in the paint.

“Just being patient, not rushing anything, not thinking too much, not second-guessing – just playing the game,” Battles said. “Reading the defense and making the right reads and making shots.”

As was the case in its win Wednesday at Auburn, Tech had trouble keeping its opposition off the offensive glass, giving up 20 offensive rebounds to its 18 defensive rebounds. That helped the Lady Bulldogs take 62 shots from the field to Tech’s 52. By comparison, the Jackets could collect only six offensive rebounds to Georgia’s 27 defensive rebounds.

“This is two games in a row where we’ve just given up way too many second-chance opportunities, and you’re just not going to win a lot of games that way,” Fortner said. “There’s a degree of toughness that you have to have to do that, and we didn’t have that (Sunday).”