WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The West Virginia University women’s basketball team used a second-half comeback to topple Georgia, 49-45, on Tuesday afternoon, at Massimino Court at Keiser University in West Palm Beach, Florida.
After falling behind, 19-11, in the first quarter and, 34-22, at halftime, West Virginia (8-2) outscored Georgia (10-3), 27-11, in the second half to secure the come-from-behind victory. The Mountaineers shot 44.4% from the field in the second half and limited the Bulldogs to 4-of-27 (14.8%) from the floor during that span.
WVU was powered by a strong performance from fifth-year senior guard Danni Nichols, who posted a team-high 13 points to go along with four rebounds, three assists, two blocks and a steal. Nichols also shot 5-of-7 (71.4%) from the field, including 2-of-3 (66.7%) from behind the arc, in 27 minutes of action.
Senior guard Jayla Hemingway joined Nichols in double figures, with 11 points, and hauled in six rebounds. Meanwhile, senior forward Tavy Diggs hauled in a team-high 10 rebounds.
Defensively, WVU forced 19 turnovers and tallied nine steals against UGA. What’s more, the Mountaineers cashed in 20 points off the Bulldogs’ 19 turnovers.
West Virginia fell behind, 8-2, to begin the game, as Georgia converted a pair of 3’s. The Mountaineers would respond with a 6-0 run to tie the game. Following the media break, WVU continued to keep it close, but a 7-0 run by UGA would close out the quarter. The Mountaineers trailed the Bulldogs, 19-11, after the first 10 minutes of the game.
Georgia stretched its run to 15-0 to begin the second, as West Virginia fell behind by 16 and was forced to call a timeout. From there, WVU tacked on 11 points, including four from redshirt sophomore guard Kyah Watson, to close out the opening half, but seven points from UGA kept its lead in double figures. Nichols closed out the second quarter with a buzzer beater to make a 34-22 game, in favor of the Bulldogs, at halftime.
After junior forward Kylee Blacksten score to begin the third quarter, Georgia sank a 3-pointer to make it a 37-24 game with 7:19 to play in the frame. From there, it was all West Virginia. The Mountaineers would tally four unanswered points to force a Bulldog timeout at the 5:29 mark, and then, tack on six more points to close out the frame. WVU trailed UGA by just three points at the start of the fourth quarter.
West Virginia kept up its offensive attack to begin the final 10 minutes of the game by converting two 3’s to take the lead. Following another UGA timeout, the Bulldogs score to make a 40-39 game, in favor if the Mountaineers. WVU would counter with four more points to stretch its lead to five points with just under four minutes to play in the game.
A Georgia 3-pointer cut West Virginia’s lead to 44-42 with 3:32 to play, but another four-point flurry from the Mountaineers’ offense helped WVU boost its advantage to six points. Following a UGA score at the 2:34 mark, fifth-year senior guard Madisen Smith was called for a technical foul, as the Bulldogs’ Diamond Battles went to the line to shoot a pair. Battles went 1-of-2 from the line to make it a 48-45 game with 55 seconds left to play.
WVU locked in on defense for the final minute of the game, as Georgia went to the line three times during that stretch. The Bulldogs came up short though and shot 1-of-6 from the stripe.
Nichols would tack on a free throw of her own with 19 seconds to play, which made it a 49-45 lead for WVU. The Columbia, Missouri, came up big on the ensuing possession, as she blocked a UGA 3-point attempt with 13 seconds left on the clock. Georgia would get the ball back with 10 seconds left to play and attempt another triple, but it came short. West Virginia would hang on to complete the comeback and secure its eighth win of the season.
West Virginia continues play at the West Palm Beach Invitational on Wednesday, Dec. 21, with a matchup against Miami (Ohio). The Mountaineers and RedHawks are set to tipoff at 12 p.m. ET, at Massimino Court at Keiser University. Wednesday’s contest will be broadcast on FloSports and the Mountaineer Sports Network.