Head coach Joni Taylor, Mackenzie Engram and Haley Clarke talked to the media on Friday afternoon. The three address Georgia’s upcoming matchup against Mercer. Georgia’s a No. 4 seed in the Women’s NCAA Tournament and is a host school. The Bulldogs take on No. 13 seed Mercer tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. at Stegeman Coliseum.
Both Engram and Clarke answered questions regarding the upcoming matchup. One of the main emphasis is to keep Mercer’s guards from scoring. Khalia Lawrence averages 19.2 points per game for the Bears. She scored 29 in the Southern Conference championship, so she enters the tournament on a hot streak.
“I think their guard play is what stands out the most. We have to lock-in and defend their guards as well as we did the first time,” Clark said. “Having a challenge on the defensive end is always something exciting and that I take pride in. I know it’s something that I can do for my team and be that person. It’s super exciting because (Lawrence) has a very quick pull-up and jump shot. I’m up for the challenge and looking forward to it.”
After the players spoke, Taylor took questions from the media.
Taylor expressed the excitement surrounding the tournament and how exciting it is to host at home. She said they’re extremely proud to host and be able to have the tournament back in Athens. Taylor goes onto say that Georgia’s freshmen are too naive to be nervous for tomorrow’s game. The freshmen were a big part of Georgia’s success this season.
“They’re too naive to be nervous,” Taylor says. “They have no idea what they’re walking into, which has made them great all year long, which continues to make them great. I think the other thing is you have ‘Steady Eddy’ – Haley Clark and Mackenzie Engram and even Caliya Robinson and Simone Costa. And our freshmen have done a tremendous job all year long of following the lead of our upperclassmen and our more experienced players. When they’re steady, our freshmen are steady. But no, they have not shown any nerves at all.”
Taylor mentioned that Mercer is a challenge and how much respect she has for Mercer head coach Susie Gardner.
Check out the press conference below for Taylor’s and the two players full statements.