Landers had his players hand their cellphones over to the coaching staff to minimize contact with family and friends during the Southeastern Conference tournament at the Gwinnett Arena.
At least for one game, Landers’ move worked well.
Jasmine Hassell scored 19 points, Tiaria Griffin added 15 and No. 12 Georgia snapped No. 22 LSU’s seven-game winning streak with a 71-53 victory in the quarterfinals of the SEC tournament on Friday night.
“There’s so much going on in the building and they’re looking around,” Landers said. “It’s easy to get distracted like that. Last night (watching LSU’s win over Auburn), we had none of those distractions. We were just sitting there — a bottle of water and focused. It was pretty good.”
The Lady Bulldogs (25-5) will face No. 7 Kentucky, an 11-point winner over Vanderbilt, in the semifinals today.
Adrienne Webb finished with 16 points, Theresa Plaisance added 13 and Danielle Ballard had 10 for LSU (20-11).
Advancing to the SEC semifinals for the first time since 2007, Georgia had a double-digit lead for the rest of the game after Jasmine James’ jumper made it 38-27 in the final minute of the first half.
“It’s always good to get on top of a team because when you’re there you want to stay there,” Hassell said. “We just wanted to go out and make a statement. We want to work hard. We want to play hard when we play well as a team.”
Each of the Lady Bulldogs’ starters scored in double figures with Anne Marie Armstrong adding 12 points, Shacobia Barbee 11 and James 10.
Georgia has won two straight and is 5-1 since losing by eight points at LSU on Feb. 10. The Lady Bulldogs handed Kentucky its only home loss on Feb. 3.
Hassell scored eight points during a 5:31 span of the first half, all of them coming in the paint as her last basket put Georgia up 34-24 at the 3:29 mark.
“Our guards did an excellent job of executing the passes,” Hassell said. “They put the ball where I needed to score. If they didn’t put it there, I wouldn’t have the opportunity to score.”
After Hassell began the second half with a turnaround jumper, Barbee’s layup made it 44-30 before Armstrong’s free throw put the Lady Bulldogs up 15.
Plaisance, the SEC’s second-leading scorer and at 6-foot-5 the biggest player on the floor, was impressed with how well Georgia fed the ball to Hassell.
“That’s one thing they did a really good job with this game,” Plaisance said. “They got her the ball down low numerous times and she converted. Also she was just keeping plays alive for them grabbing offensive boards at crucial times. That’s a momentum-killer.”
Barbee pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds. Along with Armstrong and James, Barbee handed out four assists.
Georgia’s biggest lead was 28 points with 5 minutes remaining.
LSU coach Nikki Caldwell said that freshman center Shanece McKinney fell hard on the floor in the second half and indicated that she might have suffered a concussion.
Caldwell added that McKinney might not be well enough to travel with the team immediately back to Baton Rouge, but the second-year coach believes she will recover quickly and that the Lady Tigers will persevere.
“I don’t want this group to allow this game to basically define who we are,” Caldwell said. “We’re a team that has the ability to play with and beat some of the best teams in the country. Georgia (on Friday) had our number, but this was not our best game by any stretch.”
As for Georgia, Landers will use the same approach — no cellphones — this weekend.
“I told the kids you’ll never sit out in the arena this week,” Landers said. “Tell your mom and dad you’re on lockdown. We’ll come in 35 minutes before the game. We’ll go stretch. Put on your tennis shoes. Get in the ice tub. Tell your mom and dad you won’t go out after the game. That’s the tough thing about playing at home. You know so many people.”