Photo by Ross D. Franklin
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Georgia was just too big for Tulane, and the smallest of the Lady Bulldogs was just too tenacious.
Ashley Houts scored 22 points and Angel Robinson had 18 points and 13 rebounds to lead Georgia to a 64-59 victory over the Green Wave on Saturday night in the opening round of the NCAA women's tournament.
The fifth-seeded Lady Bulldogs (24-8) broke open a close game with a late 18-2 run.
Roshaunda Barnes scored 17 points for No. 12 seed Tulane (26-7). Chassity Brown added 13 points, all in the second half, but made just 4 of 16 shots.
The 5-foot-6 Houts also had six assists, seven rebounds and three steals.
Georgia, making its 16th consecutive NCAA tournament appearance, advanced to a second-round matchup with No. 4 seed Oklahoma State (24-10) on Monday night.
It was the 49th NCAA tournament victory for Georgia coach Andy Landers, in his 27th appearance since he took over the program in Athens in 1979.
After five lead changes and four ties, Georgia went ahead for good 47-46 when Meredith Mitchell sank a 3-pointer with 8 minutes to play. That started the decisive 18-2 run. Houts scored nine of those points.
"The rebounding was critical late in the game, as was the shot blocking," Landers said, "because they actually beat us four or five times on the drive, and we were able to stop them with a shot block."
Jasmine James capped the outburst with a free throw and the Lady Bulldogs led 62-48 with 1:46 to play.
"I think we kind of bit down defensively and made some key stops and got some key boards," Houts said. "We got some boards offensively as well as from the free-throw line, some put-backs. We got some quick points off our defensive plays and tried to put it away that way."
The Green Wave gave Georgia one last scare, thanks to three turnovers by the winners in the final 1:15.
Barnes' 3-pointer cut it to 62-56 with 56 seconds left. Houts made two free throws, but Indira Kaljo made a 3 to slice the lead to 54-49 38 seconds from the finish. Houts turned it over, but Tiffany Aidoo missed a 3 for Tulane and the chance for any miracle comeback ended.
"The way that game finished really shows what our team is like," Tulane coach Lisa Stockton said. "We don't quit. There's a lot of guts and we play to that buzzer at the end."
Green Wave starting forward Danielle Nunn sprained her right ankle early in the game. X-rays were negative and she returned in the second half, but was scoreless and fouled out in 10 minutes.
The Lady Bulldogs dominated the boards 27-15 in the second half to outrebound the Green Wave 47-34 overall.
Robinson had nine rebounds in the second half, four of them offensive.
"I just heard, coming from my left ear, Coach Landers saying, 'Crash the boards, crash the boards.' Ashley was doing the same thing," Robinson said. Tulane made 10 of 35 3-point attempts to Georgia's 6 of 15.
Tulane, with four guards in the starting lineup, stayed with their SEC foes most of the way after a bad start.
The Lady Bulldogs shot out to a 10-0 lead and were up 15-4 after Anne Marie Armstrong sank a 3-pointer. The Green Wave came back to take the lead 23-22 on Aidoo's layup. Georgia outscored the Conference USA champions 5-1 over the last 2:37 of the half. Houts' steal and layup put the Bulldogs up 27-23 and Georgia led 27-24 at halftime.
The Lady Bulldogs started the season a school-record 16-0, but went 7-8 after that. They lost to Mississippi State 67-52 in the quarterfinals of the SEC tournament.