ATHENS, Ga. (AP) -- Georgia's backcourt has a new look this season: Angela Puleo is starting and Ashley Houts is scoring.
Houts scored 17 points, Puleo added 9 and Georgia (No. 10 ESPN/USA Today, No. 9 AP) used a big run starting the second half to win its season opener, 81-53 over Richmond on Friday night.Georgia, which led 35-23 at halftime, stretched the advantage to 32 points with a 25-4 run in the first 9 minutes of the second half.Houts, a point guard who was the Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Year last season, added nine rebounds, five steals and four assists."What a line she had," Georgia coach Andy Landers said.Landers also praised the play of Puleo, who hit three 3-pointers."As far as understanding what we're doing as a freshman, we put it in and she understands it and tomorrow she does it," Landers said. "It's been a while since I've had a freshman like that."Puleo, from Maryville, Tenn., is the daughter of former Atlanta Braves pitcher Charlie Puleo.Houts is one of three returning starters for Georgia, coming off its fifth straight NCAA Sweet 16 season.In a change from setting up other scorers during her freshman season, Houts had 11 points in the first half and added a 3-point shot and three-point play to help Georgia pull away early in the second half.Houts said she may have more scoring opportunities this season."I think the biggest part is since we have such a big inside threat ... if they double down inside, they can kick it back out to me," Houts said.Tasha Humphrey, a third-team All-America each of the last two years, had 13 points and nine rebounds for Georgia. Freshman Jasmine Lee had 11 points and nine rebounds.Freshman guard Brittani Shells led Richmond with 13 points. Katie Holzer added 10 points and eight rebounds.Richmond shot only 27 percent (17-of-63) from the field.Georgia beat Richmond 72-41 at Richmond last year. The Spiders are coached by Michael Shafer, who for 11 years was an assistant for Landers at Georgia.Friday night was Shafer's first return visit since leaving Georgia in 2005."Honestly, once the game tips off, your mind is not on Georgia," Shafer said. "You're playing your basketball game against the other team. Now the time surrounding the game was a great chance to see coach Landers and the players."Shafer is the son of former Georgia associate athletic director John Shafer."After the game, coach Landers said, 'Your team has gotten better," Shafer said. "I hope he's right. And I told him and his players that it was time to go win the national championship."
Puleo became Georgia's 21st freshman to start in her first game. Also on that list are Houts and Humphrey. ... Houts finished one rebound shy of her first double-double. ... Georgia is 13-1 in season-openers at Stegeman Coliseum.