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Stati, Caldwell lift No. 17 Georgia past Gators 95-80

NCAA Womens Basketball: Georgia at Tennessee

Jan 14, 2021; Knoxville, Tennessee, USA; Georgia Lady Bulldogs guard Gabby Connally (2) brings the ball up court against the Tennessee Lady Vols during the second half at Thompson-Boling Arena. Mandatory Credit: Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

GAINSVILLE, Fla. — Jenna Staiti scored 30 points, Maya Caldwell added 27, both career highs, and No. 17 Georgia pulled away from Florida for a 95-80 win on Sunday.

Combined with No. 19 Kentucky’s loss to Ole Miss, Georgia secured a top-four seed and a double-bye in next week’s Southeastern Conference tournament.

There were seven ties and 12 lead changes, the last coming when Que Morrison made two free throws and Caldwell followed with a layup to give the Lady Bulldogs a 51-48 lead midway through the third quarter.

The Gators hung in there until a 9-0 run, started and ended by Caldwell and featuring Stati’s second 3 of the game and fifth of the season, broke it open under the four-minute mark.

Morrison scored 14 points, Mikayla Coombs 11 and Gabby Connally 10 for Georgia (18-5, 10-5 SEC), which has won eight straight in the series. Stati also had 13 rebounds, for her eighth double-double of the season, three blocks, two assists and a steal.

Floor Toonders, Jordyn Merritt and Kiara Smith all scored 16 for the Gators (10-12, 3-11) and Nina Rickards added 14. They have lost four straight since leading scorer Lavender Briggs (19.5) was lost for the season with a foot injury.

Florida was not daunted by Georgia’s defense that allows 59.2 points on 36.6% shooting, but the Gators did have 19 turnovers that were turned into 22 points.

The Lady Bulldogs were efficient on offense, shooting 58.2%, highlighted by a 10-for-13 fourth quarter and 22-of-31 (71%) second half. Staiti was 13 of 21 and Caldwell 11 of 15 with both hitting 2 of 3 behind the arc.