BOILING SPRINGS – David Efianayi scored 15 points off the bench, but Georgia's second-half pressure proved too much in opening up a tight game into a 77-59 win over Gardner-Webb.
The Runnin' Bulldogs (2-4) fought hard over the first 20 minutes, as a back-and-forth game that featured 14 lead changes and 10 ties wound up a 40-37 Georgia lead at the break.
The host Bulldogs (4-2) went on a 23-8 run to start the second half, putting the game out of reach. Georgia used a 3/4 court trap and some pressure to disrupt Gardner-Webb offensively, as the Runnin' Bulldogs went cold after the break – shooting just 25.0 percent (7-of-28) over the final 20 minutes.
GWU also had 12 of its 19 turnovers after the break, limiting its opportunities for a rally.
Gardner-Webb didn't shoot particularly well in the first half (39.3 percent), but made 13-of-17 free throws as a result of driving with aggression to the rim. GWU also held a rebounding edge in the opening half, one it still held on to by the end of the game.
The Runnin' Bulldogs fell behind 4-0 early, but responded with a 6-0 run to take its first lead. Neither team would gain much of an edge in the first half, with the largest leading in the first 10 minutes going to Georgia at 14-9 with 13:34 to play before intermission.
Gardner-Webb responded with an 11-2 run, however, taking its largest lead of the half – 20-16 – on a free throw from Efianayi. The two teams traded leads over the next several minutes, with Gardner-Webb taking its last lead of the game, 32-21, on a pair of free throws from Christian Turner.
Georgia recovered, going up 40-34 on a jumper by All-SEC forward Yante Maten with 39 seconds remaining before break.
Laquincy Rideau trimmed lead back to three with a 27-foot triple with three seconds on the clock.
Georgia wasted little time seizing control of the game in the final 20 minutes, getting a layup by Maten just 30 seconds into the half. A three-pointer by Turtle Jackson pushed the lead to 45-39 and a pair of free throws from Mike Edwards stretched the lead to eight points by the 15:52 mark.
Georgia's lead would not be trimmed to less than seven points the rest of the way.
Gardner-Webb shot 32.1 percent for the game (18-of-56), made 21-of-30 free throws (70.0 percent) and outrebounded Georgia 39-38.
In addition to Efianayi's 15 points, Gardner-Webb got 11 points from Rideau and nine from Jamaal Robateau. No other Runnin' Bulldog had more than six.
Maten – who went for 30 points and 13 boards in a loss to No. 5 Kansas earlier this week – led Georgia with 16 points and nine boards. J.J. Frazier and Edwards each had 10 points for the Bulldogs, who shot 47.3 percent from the floor (26-of-55) and turned Gardner-Webb's 19 turnovers into 28 points.
Gardner-Webb will return home for its next outing, hosting Division II Coker on Tuesday, November 29, at 7:00 pm in Paul Porter Arena.