The Lady Bulldogs were sending a message to coach Andy Landers that they knew about his impending milestone.
Landers became the seventh Division I women’s coach to reach 800 career victories when No. 8 Georgia beat Savannah State 94-57 on Tuesday night.
“They put it up after the last game. They thought that was cute,” Landers said. “I didn’t even know they knew about it. I think they were kind of giddy. If this kind of thing is something that kids find to be fun, and they take a lot of pride in it, it’s a good thing.”
Landers, who is 800-268 in his 34th season at Georgia, was presented with a framed red team jersey with the No. 800 on it in a postgame ceremony.
He became the school’s first full-time women’s basketball coach when he was hired in 1979 and has led the Lady Bulldogs to seven SEC regular-season titles, four SEC tournament championships and five Final Four appearances.
“(This is) not something that’s been on my radar. It is what it is. It happened,” Landers said. “At some point, maybe later. Ten years from now. Fifteen years from now. Twenty years from now, if I live that long, I’ll look back and say, ‘Wow.’ But (on Tuesday), we’re just out there doing what we do.”
Jasmine James scored 18 points and freshman Tiaria Griffin added a career-high 15 for the Lady Bulldogs (5-0), who played their fourth games in seven days.
Andrietta Thomas led Savannah State (1-2) with 22 points.
Georgia led by as many as 38 points, forced 25 turnovers and outrebounded the Lady Tigers 44-26.
“Rebounding has been an Achilles’ heel for us this year, and they had great size inside and they pounded on the boards,” Savannah State coach Cedric Baker said. “I think if we had rebounded better and controlled tempo and not given up so many second-chance shots and turnovers in the backcourt, it probably would have been a closer game and margin.”
The Lady Bulldogs used a 16-2 run to take a 37-13 lead with 7:38 left in the first half. Griffin and fellow freshmen Marjorie Butler each scored six points to key the run.
Jasmine Hassell added 14 points for the Lady Bulldogs, who shot 50.7 percent from the field (38-of-75).
Hassell, a senior, surpassed the 1,000 career points and now has 1,004.
“To be honest, I didn’t know about it,” Hassell said. “When we were in the huddle, people were patting me on the back. I was like, ‘Why do they keep patting me on my back?’ And somebody said it. It’s a blessing and honor.”
Georgia dominated from the outset, taking a 27-11 lead 10 minutes into the game.
Landers started freshmen Merritt Hempe and Shacobia Barbee and then substituted his starting five with another group that included Butler and Griffin.
Eleven Georgia players scored in the rout.
“We had a lot of people play well, and some had more opportunity to play better and they cashed in on it,” Landers said. “I say it all the time, but basketball is such a game of opportunity.”
Hassell scored the first basket of Georgia’s 16-2 run, but freshmen accounted for the rest with Butler and Griffin alternating the scoring.
After Hempe scored, Butler made two free throws.
Griffin came back with a 3-pointer for a 30-13 lead with 9:35 left, before Butler hit a jumper. Griffin hit another 3-pointer before Butler closed the run with a layup to give Georgia a 37-13 advantage.
Barbee hit a 3-pointer with 13:24 left to give the Lady Bulldogs a 63-35 lead.
Ezinne Kalu, Savannah State’s leading scorer, picked up her second foul with 14:24 left in the first half and had 10 points, 7.5 points below her average.