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UGA women roll in NCAA Tournament opener

Georgia Lady Bulldogs guard Khaalidah Miller pushes the ball up the floor against Montana during the first round of the women’s NCAA Tournament on Saturday in Spokane, Wash.

Georgia Lady Bulldogs guard Khaalidah Miller pushes the ball up the floor against Montana during the first round of the women’s NCAA Tournament on Saturday in Spokane, Wash.

SPOKANE, Wash. --- The Georgia women’s basketball team used a 70-50 win over Big Sky champion Montana Friday night to move on to the second round of the NCAA Championships at the McCarthey Athletic Center in Spokane, Wash.

The fourth-seeded Lady Bulldogs (26-6) got 16 points from senior Jasmine Hassell, while classmate Jasmine James added 11 points and four assists. Freshman Shacobia Barbee had 13 points to go along with seven rebounds. Montana (24-8) was led by Torry Hill’s 11 points, which include 3-for-8 shooting from three-point range.

“The idea was to come out and really put a lot of pressure on them,” said head coach Andy Landers, who tonight won his 53rd NCAA Tournament game in 30 trips. “We made passing and catching extremely difficult and eventually were able to break them down after they made things close. I thought Jasmine Hassell was terrific, but I thought a lot of people were terrific. We got a lot of productivity off the bench. This was a great team win.”

The Lady Bulldogs started the game on a 15-4 run over the first six minutes, a stretch that included nine points from the rookie Barbee. After Georgia had built an 11-point lead at 28-17 with 2:27 remaining before halftime, Montana used a pair of threes from Hill to cut the Lady Griz deficit to seven, 32-25, at the intermission.

Montana quickly continued cutting into the Lady Bulldog advantage after the break, and pulled to within just two, at 33-31, with less than three minutes gone by in the second frame. It was again a two-point game, this time at 38-36 in Georgia’s favor with 15:54 on the clock, before the Lady Bulldogs embarked on a 26-11 run over the next 10 minutes to pull away. The streak was capped by a long-ranger for James that made it 59-42 with 5:55 remaining.

The Lady Dogs took their largest lead of the game to that point at 18, 61-43, on a Hassell lay-up, before going up by 20 for the first time at 65-45 when Barbee grabbed a steal and converted on the lay-up with 2:53 to play. A three from senior Danielle Bennett gave Georgia a 22-point lead at 70-48 with under a minute to go, and the Lady Bulldogs ultimately came away with the 70-50 decision to punch their ticket to Monday’s second round match-up.

Georgia’s bench finished the day with 19 points, including an eight-point output from sophomore Erika Ford in 16 minutes of action.

The Lady Bulldogs will take on No. 5 seed Iowa State on Monday at 9:30 p.m. on ESPN2.