Dec. 27, 2003
By KEITH PARSONS
AP Sports Writer
ATLANTA – Kara Braxton bounced back from a lackluster first half – not to mention a tongue-lashing from coach Andy Landers – and made sure Georgia restored its dominance over Georgia Tech.
Braxton scored eight of her season-high 26 points in an early second-half run, leading No. 12 Georgia to a 78-62 victory over the Yellow Jackets on Saturday in the Russell Athletic Shootout.
No. 17 LSU beat Florida State 75-68 in the opening game of the doubleheader.
“After the motivational speech in the locker room at halftime, I think I came out and played better in the second half,” Braxton said, a small smile forming on her face.
Braxton had a miserable first half. She was only 3-for-12 and missed a 3-pointer badly, which led Landers to yank her from the game.
He talked to her sternly on the bench for several seconds, but she started the second half and finished 8-for-20. The 6-foot-6 Braxton and the 6-5 Christi Thomas dominated throughout, including that stretch soon after halftime when the Bulldogs pulled away.
“We started shooting fallaways and 3-pointers,” Landers said. “We’re not very good at that. We had this discussion at halftime, and we came out and put our 6-6 and our 6-5 rear ends on the block, and you see what happened.”
Thomas added 13 points for the Lady Bulldogs (8-2), who lost to Georgia Tech for the first time ever in last year’s shootout. Georgia is 25-1 in the series.
“Last year, I think this game was a turning point for us,” Thomas said. “It got us on a different track then we had been running. You have to use that as motivation and just put it to them.”
“In my 13 years, Kara Braxton is one of the most talented post players I’ve seen,” Georgia Tech coach MaChelle Joseph said. “She has size, speed and quickness.
“There may not be a better post player in the country when she’s at her best, and she certainly was 100 percent today.”
The Yellow Jackets trailed by seven at halftime, and the deficit shrunk to three after Alex Stewart scored the first four points of the second half. But Braxton had consecutive three-point plays and added a layup, and Thomas also scored from in close to push the lead to 45-32.
That spurt forced a timeout by Georgia Tech, and Megan Harpring had a basket out of the stoppage to end the drought.
On the other end, Braxton passed out of the post to Janese Hardrick, who made a 3-pointer. Georgia guard Sherill Baker then cleanly stole the ball from Isom and dribbled all the way in for a layup, and the Yellow Jackets immediately turned it over against a full-court press.
Hardrick had a jumper to make it 52-34, and Georgia Tech got no closer than 14 points the rest of the way.
“I think Braxton just took over,” Joseph said. “You take that spurt out and it pretty much was an even game.”
Stokes scored 15 of her points in the second half and went 7-for-8 from the charity stripe. She also pulled down six rebounds in the contest while dishing out two assists. Isom and April Johnson led the Jackets with seven rebounds apiece while Stewart had nine assists for the third time this season, and second time in the past two contests.
The Jackets will return to action in the Atlanta Marriott Northwest Holiday Invitational, held the 30th and 31st of December. They will meet William and Mary on the 30th at 1 p.m. and play either Florida A&M or Charleston Southern in the second game of the tournament.