Missouri's Wannette Smith (31) pushes past Georgia's Tiaunna Briggans (24) during their 78-65 victory over Georgia in the second round of the NCAA East Regionals.
March 18, 2001
By PAUL NEWBERRY
AP Sports Writer
ATHENS, Ga. - When the final horn sounded, Kelly Miller buckled over as if she had been punched in the stomach. Coco Miller gnawed at her jersey and fought back tears as she trotted off the court.
For Georgia's twin stars, the last college game was a most stunning loss.
Amanda Lassiter scored 22 points and 10th-seeded Missouri upset the second-seeded Lady Bulldogs 78-65 Sunday in the second round of the NCAA East Regional.
The Lady Bulldogs (27-6) felt they deserved a No. 1 seed but couldn't even get by the subregional on their home court.
Missouri (22-9) snapped Georgia's 24-game winning streak at Stegeman Coliseum and became the first road team to win an NCAA game at Athens since 1990.
"The whole team played hard," Coco Miller said, choking with emotion at the postgame news conference. "It's just too bad it had to end like this."
The Millers made it to the Final Four as sophomores but never got back. The Lady Bulldogs were beaten in the regional final a year ago and then watched Missouri pull away in the second half to hand Georgia the most surprising NCAA loss in school history.
"I just don't think we were playing up to our potential at all," said Kelly, a two-time All-American who started all 131 games in her college career. "We never had a great game this year."
Sitting side-by-side in the locker room, the Millers said it was too early to ponder the next stage in their lives. They have always played together - youth leagues, high school, four years at Georgia - but there's no guarantee they'll wind up on the same team in the WNBA.
"We haven't really spoken about that," Coco said. "We don't have to say much. We know what the other one is thinking."
Kelly Miller was held to 11 points on 5-of-16 shooting, while her sister
made only 5-of-15 attempts for 10 points.
Missouri moved on to the regional semifinals at Pittsburgh, advancing to the third round for the first time in school history.
"We came in confident, knowing we could compete with Georgia," Lassiter said. "We didn't want to seem timid. We wanted to get them out of their comfort zone and control the tempo."
Lassiter hit four 3-pointers and had seven rebounds and six steals. Marlena Williams added 19 points for the Tigers, who until this year had not won an NCAA game since 1986.
"I'm not really big on history myself," coach Cindy Stein said. "This has more to do with the present. We don't want to be satisfied with this game."
Missouri led 35-33 at the half and slowly pulled away to a 57-44 lead on Evan Unrau's basket with 8:51 remaining.
Georgia cut the deficit to 57-52, but Williams converted a three-point play after Lassiter stole an outlet pass off a rebound.
"It was huge," Stein said. "Pep (Williams' nickname) has been playing like that all year. The prime-time players were on the floor."
Lassiter followed with a 3-pointer to push the lead back to double figures and the Lady Bulldogs never got closer than eight points.
Until this year, Georgia's most shocking home tournament defeat came 11 years ago to seventh-seeded Arkansas. Overall, the Lady Bulldogs have lost only three times in 23 NCAA games at Stegeman Coliseum.
Coincidentally, Georgia also lost to Missouri in the NCAA men's tournament Thursday.
"Our kids played hard," Lady Bulldogs coach Andy Landers said. "They probably did the best they could today."
Missouri beat the Lady Bulldogs at their own game, forcing 19 turnovers to set up 23 points. The Tigers did a good job of handling Georgia's high-intensity, man-to-man defense.
After running and gunning in the first half, Missouri slowed the pace over the final 20 minutes.
The Tigers repeatedly fooled Georgia with inbound plays and feeds inside. Missouri was also strong on the boards, collecting 14 offensive rebounds to set up 14 points.
"They beat us to a lot of balls," Landers said. "They made some hustle plays that I would have liked to have seen our kids make."
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