Unlike the two newcomers to the NCAA tournament who square off after them in Tallahassee, Fla., Georgia and Marist are no strangers to the event.
Seeded fourth in the Raleigh regional, the Bulldogs are in the tournament for the 18th consecutive year and 29th time overall. They will open against the 13th-seeded Red Foxes, who qualified for the seventh straight year and eighth time in nine years.This matchup comes after Florida Gulf Coast plays St. Bonaventure in a matchup of schools making their first NCAA tournament appearances.Three-point shooting could be a key to this game. Georgia went 9-0 this season when making at least 37.0 percent from beyond the arc. Khaalidah Miller tops the Bulldogs with 67 3-pointers and averages 12.1 points, slightly behind forward Jasmine Hassell for the team lead (13.2).Georgia coach Andy Landers, whose Bulldogs (22-8) have the highest seed among the teams playing in first-round action at Tallahassee, said he was hugely mistaken when he initially believed that the 3-point shot wouldn't make much difference in the collegiate women's game. Landers said the 3-pointer is vital to the Bulldogs' chances of advancing in the tournament."It drives the ebb and flow in the momentum changes," he said.Marist (25-7) also likes to shoot plenty of 3s -- nearly two dozen a game."Your ability to defend it is critical, especially if you are playing against a team such as Marist that can shoot it as well as they do," Landers said.Marist seniors Corielle Yarde and Brandy Gang led the Red Foxes in scoring at 14.1 points and 12.3 points a game, respectively. They have combined with sophomore Leanne Ockenden to make 152 shots from 3-point distance this season."It's going to be part of our game," Marist coach Brian Giorgis said. "When we have been successful in this tournament it has been because of great guard play."