ATHENS, Ga. — Greg Marsden suspected there would be an advantage on the final rotation.
As Utah went to balance beam — one of the toughest events to finish with — Georgia went to the floor exercise in front of its home crowd, with the score knotted at 147.775.
The fourth-ranked Gym Dogs (3-0) posted their highest floor exercise total of the season to capture a 197.150-196.725 victory over the third-ranked Utes on Monday at Stegeman Coliseum.
"On somebody else's floor, you've got to assume that they're going to do a good job and finish strong," said Marsden.
"This is what it's all about — to come into this kind of situation and challenge yourself and see how you perform and hold under," he said. "Their team is always the best, or among the best, so you know you're going to get a dogfight every time you come."
Even though the Utes lost their second meet of the season, Marsden was pleased with his team's fight. The Utes suffered a fall from their first competitor of the day, freshman Stephanie McAllister, but did not have to count it. And on the final rotation, leadoff competitor Gael Mackie lost her balance and fell off the beam that also did not count.
"We came into a tough situation early in the year with a lot of new people in the lineup," Marsden said. "It started out tough on a couple of events. ... They kept fighting all the way through the meet."
The Utes (1-1) scored their lowest beam total of the season with a 48.950, as no gymnast scored above a 9.850. Seven-time All-American Kristina Baskett led with a 9.850.
Utah began the competition with a 49.400 on the uneven bars, even after McAllister's fall. The Utes held a one-tenth lead after the first rotation as Georgia scored a 49.300 on vault.
Daria Bijak and Baskett led the Utes with a 9.900 and 9.925, respectively, on bars.
But the Utes fell flat on vaulting, the event which they are ranked No.1 in the nation. After scoring a 49.425 in its first competition, Utah finished with a 49.075 on Monday. Baskett anchored the event with a team-high 9.850.
Georgia regained the lead midway through the competition after a 49.425 on bars, led by two-time NCAA all-around champion Courtney Kupets' 9.975.
After falling in their first competition, both Nina Kim and Baskett bounced back with a 9.900 and 9.850, respectively, on floor exercise. The Utes were also led by Annie Diluzio, who scored a 9.900 and shared the floor title with Kim and Kupets.
"I thought it was a fluke last week," said Marsden of the seniors' season opening falls. "I think I said after the meet that I'd be surprised if that happened again. They're our most experienced and the leaders on our team and really looked to be the best prepared going into the season. I was happy for them (Monday). That was something to get off their back."
Georgia had a fall by leadoff competitor Paige Burns on beam and wobbles throughout the rest of the routines to score a 49.025, while the Utes scored a 49.300 on floor to tie the meet.
"We knew it was going to be close," said Georgia coach Suzanne Yoculan, who will retire after this season. "We knew Utah was strong."
Baskett said she didn't let the pressure and score affect her beam routine.15 comments on this story
"We try not to think about that kind of stuff because that's when it starts messing with your head," she said. "We've been doing gymnastics for a long time so we kind of learn how to tune that stuff out. We went up and had one mistake on beam, but I think we had an awesome beam set. It wasn't enough, but it was good enough for our second meet."
Baskett finished second in the all-around competition with a 39.450 behind Kupets, who is first in the nation in the all-around. Kupets led the pack with a 39.600. Georgia's Tiffany Tolnay scored a 39.425 and Utah's Kim finished fourth with a 39.375.