2:30 PM ET, November 11, 2007
ATHENS, Ga. (AP) -- Ashley Houts may have a shiner as a reminder of Georgia's 84-56 win over George Mason on Sunday, and that's OK with her.Houts took an elbow to her left cheek early in the first half and wobbled to the sideline to gather her bearings."I didn't black out, but it hurt," she said.When she returned, she punished the Patriots with 17 points, seven steals and five assists, a routine all-around effort for the 5-foot-6 sophomore point guard.Senior forward Tasha Humphrey led the Lady Dogs with 21 points. It was her 40th game at Georgia (No. 10 ESPN/USA Today, No. 9 AP) with 20 or more points.Lateisha Wade led George Mason (0-1) with 12 points."I feel much more comfortable this year," said Houts, the Southeastern Conference freshman of the year last season. "I have the confidence now to tell my teammates where they need to be. That's in the point guard's job description.""They've got to do it," coach Andy Landers said.He said that last year, Houts was reluctant like most freshmen to throw her voice around."She spent a lot of time last year just wondering if she had the offense figured out," Landers said. "You could tell this year when she came back that she had it because when we were putting things in, she was going 'yeah, yeah, yeah.'"Landers said he has not put much emphasis on offense so far. Instead, Georgia has worked extensively on defense."The last three years our defense has slipped off the page," Landers said.A thin roster forced Georgia to play conservative defense. Now with a two-deep roster at every position this season, the Lady Dogs want to dominate other teams."I think we have got to get better defensively," Humphrey said. "I think we are a step or two in the right direction."Led by Angel Robinson's 10 rebounds, Georgia barely won the rebounding battle (44-42) but scored 25 points off 26 turnovers."The rebounding is not good," Landers said, "but that goes back to on-the-ball defense.""It takes a lot away from your rebounding when you have to rotate and help on defense," Humphrey said.George Mason scored only one basket in the first 7 minutes, a 3-pointer by Casey Quigley, but Georgia failed to capitalize. Two free throws by Houts gave the Lady Dogs a 10-3 lead with 13:10 to go in the half, but the Patriots tied the game at 15-15 with 8:30 to go in the half when Ward hit a short jumper from the baseline.Georgia finished the half with an 11-4 run, started by Angela Puleo's 3-pointer with 4:36 to go and capped by her transition basket to account for the 35-24 halftime lead.Houts' defense ignited a seven-point run for Georgia early in the second half. She stole a pass but was fouled on the layup attempt. After she made her two free throws, Georgia pressed, and Houts again stole the ball, tipping it to Humphrey, whose no-look pass set up Christy Marshall's layup as she drew a foul.Marshall missed her free throw, but Georgia got the rebound and Brittany Carter hit a 3-pointer to push the Georgia lead to 60-34 with 14:16 remaining.George Mason never threatened again.