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    SEC Women's Basketball Today: November 11

    women's BASkEtBALL RESULTS
    Ole Miss 68, North Florida 59
    Minnesota 68, Arkansas 60
    South Carolina 71, Illinois 52
    Georgia 83,  TCU 60
    Auburn 77,  Mercer 43
    Mississippi State 78,  Jacksonville State 41
    Michigan 69,  Florida 66
    Kentucky 96,  Morehead State 60
    Vanderbilt 86,  Alabama A&M 55

    Ole Miss Wins Season Opener

    OXFORD, Miss. – The Ole Miss women’s basketball team downed North Florida, 68-59, Friday morning in the season opener for both teams.

    With the win, Ole Miss improved to 1-0 while North Florida fell to 0-1.

    Maggie McFerrin led Ole Miss with 11 points (including three threes), while Nikki Byrd added 10 and Valencia McFarland scored nine. 

    “I thought we were a little slow to start and we can’t get back in that pattern again,” head coach Renee Ladner said.  “I think our defense will have to create offense.  We let a lot of groups of people play and had a lot of people play today.” 

    North Florida pushed its lead early, taking a 19-7 lead over the Rebels with 13:41 left in the first half.  Ole Miss battled back to cut the lead to 19-14 on a fast-break layup from McFerrin with 10:54 left in the half.

    A three from McFerrin tied the game at 20 with 7:08 to play in the half.  Byrd hit a fast-break layup right before half to give Ole Miss a 37-29 lead.  The Ospreys hit a shot at the buzzer to bring the score to 37-31 at the half.

    McFerrin led the Rebels at the half with 11 points.  Byrd and LaTosha Laws each recorded three rebounds in the half.  Ole Miss shot 45.5 percent (15-33) from the floor while North Florida shot 54.2 percent (13-24). 

    In the second half, Ole Miss used a 16-4 run to go up 57-41 on a three pointer from Kenyotta Jenkins with 8:10 to play. 

    For the game, Ole Miss shot 41.3 percent (26-63) while North Florida shot 46.3 percent (25-54).  Byrd led Ole Miss with five rebounds while McFarland recorded five assists.

    Ole Miss will play at Lamar on Tuesday at 7 p.m.



    Arkansas Falls to Minnesota, 68-60

    DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Junior Sarah Watkins scored 18 points and senior Lynsday Harris added 17 but it was not enough as the University of Arkansas women’s basketball team suffered a 68-60 loss to Minnesota at the WBI Tip Off Classic in the season opener Friday.

    Arkansas (0-1) faces South Florida at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.
               
    “Well it was a disappointing start,” said Arkansas head coach Tom Collen.  “We didn’t take good care of the basketball.  We knew Minnesota would try and turn us over and take advantage of their size difference and they did that today.”
               
    Minnesota (1-0) was able to force 24 Razorback turnovers and scored 23 points from the Arkansas miscues.  They scored 42 in the paint and had three players in double digits.
               
    The Golden Gophers won the tip and controlled the tempo of the game from the first moments.  Arkansas trailed for most of the game but did put together a good rally late in the game.
               
    Down 42-35, Arkansas went on a 9-2 run to tie the game at 44-all with 9:57 to play.  But Minnesota regrouped after a timeout and stretched its lead out to 11, 57-46, with just under five minutes remaining.
               
    The Razorbacks put together another scoring drive of their own hitting three consecutive three pointers, two from Harris and one from freshman Callie Berna but it was not enough to overcome the early deficit.
               
    In addition to Watkins and Harris, Berna was in double figures in her first collegiate game scoring 13 for Arkansas.  Senior Ashley Daniels paced the team with seven rebounds, followed by six from Berna and four from Quistelle Williams.
               
    Arkansas shot 40.4 percent for the game on 21-for-52 shooting.  They were 8-24 from three-point range for 33.3 percent and hit 10-of-17 free throws for 58.8 percent from the line. 
               
    Collen was able to work in 11 of his 14 players into the lineup but knows going to the bench will be important as tournament play continues.
        
    “I probably played my starters a little more than I wanted to today,” he said.  “We have a deep bench and we will need everyone before the weekend is over.”
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    Gamecocks Push Past Illinois 71-52

    CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - South Carolina used a stifling defense and an aggressive offensive plan in the second half as the Gamecocks topped Illinois 71-52 in women’s basketball action at Assembly Hall Friday afternoon. South Carolina out-scored Illinois 40-28 in the second half, including a 21-4 run midway through the period. Junior Ashley Bruner netted 12 of her team-high 14 points in the second half to lead three Gamecocks in double figures. She also pulled down a team-high six rebounds.

    Both teams struggled with turnovers in the first half, and the Gamecocks got things under control first behind senior Markeshia Grant. Picking up right where she left off in the exhibition game, her 3-pointer from the right sideline gave the Gamecocks a 9-6 lead they would not relinquish in the period.

    South Carolina opened the second half with an 11-4 surge keyed by staunch defense and aggressive drives to the basket. Charenee Stephens hit her first two points of the night on a short jumper on the right block. The Illinois scored all four of its points on Kersten Magrum free throws on the ensuing possessions. Senior La’Keisha Sutton stormed back with a driving layup, and Ashley Bruner and Ieasia Walker each added a free throw. A drive by Illinois’ Lydia McCully brought her team within seven, but a traditional three-point play by Bruner and a transition layup from Sutton stretched it out to 42-31.

    From there, the Gamecocks were rolling. Sutton hit a pair of free throws, and Bruner added a bucket from the left block. A long jumper from Ebony Wilson made it a 48-31 advantage with 12:50 left to play. The defense cranked up another notch, forcing the Illini into six turnovers in their next eight, which only yielded one point. The Gamecock offense scored in almost every conceivable way during the stretch. Bruner hit from the left block, Wilson added a put back and Aleighsa Welch picked up her first points as a Gamecock with a transition layup. Stephens flashed across the lane for a bucket on a baseline out-of-bounds play, followed by Tina Roy’s first 3-pointer in the Garnet and Black. Fellow freshman Elem Ibiam closed out the surge with a move on the left block to put South Carolina up 65-35 with seven minutes to go.

    The coaching staff took advantage of the significant cushion, getting the five newcomers significant minutes in the game. While the move allowed Illinois to cut the lead in half, but Sutton came back in the game to steady the lineup and allow the Gamecocks to cruise to the victory.

    Grant and Sutton joined Bruner in double figures with 11 and 10, respectively. The duo also handed out three assists each, as did junior Sancheon White. The Gamecocks limited Illinois’ leading scorer from last season, Karisma Penn, to just 10 points before she fouled out of the contest. South Carolina out-rebounded Illinois 34-32 and shot 42.1 percent from the field.
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    Lady Bulldogs Roll Over TCU In Opener

    ATHENS, Ga. --- Junior Anne Marie Armstrong posted career highs of 22 points, eight rebounds and five steals as the No. 13 Georgia Lady Bulldogs (1-0) defeated the TCU Horned Frogs (0-1) Friday, 83-60, in the season opener at Stegeman Coliseum.

    In addition to Armstong, three more Lady Bulldogs scored in the double digits. Senior Meredith Mitchell notched her fourth career double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds. Sophomore Khaalidah Miller and junior Jasmine James put up 17 and 14 points, respectively.

    "It was good start to the season," said Georgia head coach Andy Landers. "A lot of players did a lot of things well. We struggled at times defensively, but the effort was good I thought pretty much from beginning to end."

    Georgia started strong with a 10-2 run in the first 3:30 of the game and never relinquished the lead.

    “TCU played well," continued Landers. "At the end of transition we failed to check up correctly, they found their players and went to the offensive boards. Defensively, they kept adjusting until they slowed us down. Offensively, we played pretty well in the first half. Then they started matching and shifting until they got their zone right and it really affected us in the second half.”

    The Lady Bulldogs connected on 41.7 percent of their shots from the field while holding TCU to 36.8 percent. Georgia knocked down 13 three-pointers.
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    Auburn Cruises Past Mercer, 77-43

    MACON, Ga. – Auburn (1-0) scored the first 12 points of the game and never looked back as the Tigers trounced Mercer (0-1) 77-43 Friday night in Macon, Ga. Sophomore Tyrese Tanner started and led the Tigers with 14 points in the season-opening victory for the women’s basketball team.

    Tanner was one of three Tigers in double figures in the game, followed by freshman Hasina Muhammad and junior Blanche Alverson with 12 points each. Alverson tallied the first double-double of her career, also pulling down a career-high 10 rebounds.

    “It was a really good effort tonight to come into Mercer, to a packed house on their homecoming and get the win,” said Auburn head coach Nell Fortner. “We really took advantage of the back-door cuts early to get out to a good start. Going on the road and getting a win in the season-opener was great and really builds our confidence.”

    Auburn held Mercer scoreless for the first four minutes of the game and led by as many as 20 points before taking a 36-19 lead into the locker room at halftime.

    The Bears came out and went shot-for-shot with Auburn in the early going of the second half, cutting the lead to 14 with 14:51 to play. The Tigers answered with an 8-0 to get the lead back to 22, fueled by six transition baskets by Tanner.

    Mercer would get no closer than 18 points the rest of the way as Auburn gradually pulled away for the eventual 34-point, 77-43, victory.

    The game was also a homecoming for Auburn senior Parrisha Simmons, a native of Macon, Ga. She came off the bench for five points and nine rebounds in 18 minutes of play.

    “Parrisha is just such a great utility player, she can come into the game and give you something in so many different areas,” said Fortner. “We were glad to get to bring her home to Macon and let her play in front of her friends and family.”

    The game was the Auburn debut for a pair of new Tigers, freshman Muhammad and junior point guard Najat Ouardad. Muhammed started and scored 12 points with two rebounds, a block and a steal. Ouardad came off the bench for seven points, four assists, three rebounds and three steals.

    As a team, Auburn out-rebounded Mercer 50-27, including 14 offensive boards for 12 second-chance points. The Tigers also used their defense to fuel the offense, tallying 11 steals while forcing 19 Mercer turnovers, turning them in to 20 points on the other end.

    The Tigers shot 55.4 percent from the field while holding the Bears to 26.8 percent. Auburn also got to the free-throw line 24 times, connecting on 15 attempts.
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    LADY BULLDOGS CRUISE PAST JACKSONVILLE STATE

    STARKVILLE, Miss. – STARKVILLE, Miss. – Mississippi State blocked its way to victory Friday night in a women’s basketball season opener.

    The Lady Bulldogs set a new school record with 14 total blocks as MSU scored the first 16 points of the game and cruised to a 78-41 victory over Jacksonville State at Humphrey Coliseum.

    The victory was the 300th home win in program history. The Lady Bulldogs moved to 22-0 against Ohio Valley Conference foes and 36-2 in home openers. MSU has now won 26 straight home openers.

    In her MSU debut, freshman Martha Alwal also set a school record with 10 blocked shots. A 6-foot-4 freshman from Worthington, MN, Alwal posted a double-double with four points, 11 rebounds and 10 blocked shots.

    “Overall, I was excited about my game tonight,” Alwal said. “There are lots of things I need to work on on the offensive end. I need to take better shots and work on blocking out. However, this was a good start.”

    For the Lady Bulldogs, it was a good start all the way around. The offensive charge was led by Diamber Johnson, who poured in a new career high with 30 points on 12-of-23 shooting.

    A pair of 3-points by fellow newcomer Kendra Grant sparked the game-opening 16-0 run. After the Lady Gamecocks closed within 18-5, the hosts scored the game’s next 10 points.

    “Finding a way to win and finding a way to get better,” MSU head coach Sharon Fanning-Otis said. “That is what we need to do. We still have to work on penetration and guarding players better. I am very proud. I was pleased that we kept them under 30 percent and shot 47 percent on our offensive end.”

    In the opening half, the Lady Bulldogs defensively held Jacksonville State to 14.8 percent shooting. The Maroon and White eased into halftime with a 35-13 advantage.

    “This was a good start for this team,” Johnson said. “It is like we have been saying through the preseason, this team has a chance to be special. We have to work hard every day and not go backwards. We did a good job of sharing the basketball tonight and guarded well on the defensive end.”

    In the second half, the Lady Bulldogs scored the first eight points to extend the lead to 30 points. The hosts would lead by as many as 39 on three occasions in the final half.   

    For the contest, the Lady Bulldogs hit 31 of 65 shots from the field (47.7 percent), 5 of 18 shots from 3-point range (27.8 percent) and 11 of 18 shots from the foul line (61.1 percent).

    The Lady Gamecocks hit 15 of 53 shots from the field (28.3 percent), 3 of 10 shots from 3-point range (30.0 percent) and 8 of 18 shots from the foul line (44.4 percent).

    MSU held a 46-32 rebounding advantage. The Lady Bulldogs had 14 assists and 15 turnovers, while the Lady Gamecocks had 13 assists and 26 turnovers.

    Porsha Porter added 10 points to the MSU cause.

    Jacksonville State received 11 points from Destiny Lane and 10 points from Danielle Vaughn.
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    Florida Falls To Michigan

    Senior guard Jordan Jones (Suwanee, Ga.) knocked down a UF career-tying five three-pointers and rallied for 21 points – just shy of a her UF career-high 25 – but a physical back and forth battle with Michigan that consisted of 29 lead changes and 13 ties fell short for the Gators, 69-66, in the team’s season-opener Friday at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.

    “You have to give Michigan a lot of credit for the way they played and the way they executed. They really looked like a solid and experienced veteran team,” Florida head coach Amanda Butler said. “I thought they did an exceptional job of executing their game plan and what would be effective against us – I thought that we didn’t, plain and simple. I felt we didn’t do a good job of winning the paint. We shot way too many threes and a lot of them didn’t make sense. My biggest disappointment in how we played was that we didn’t pay enough attention to our defensive game. Luckily, this is our first game and not our last and we have, obviously, a lot of areas to improve and a great opportunity to do that when we play again on Monday.”

    A crowd of 3,028 gathered to watch Florida (0-1) open the 2011-12 season against Michigan (1-0), and what a show they got. The Gators rallied for 10 treys, with five different student-athletes connecting from behind the arc, led by Jones’ five, while sophomore Lily Svete (Granger, Ind.) knocked down two and senior Lanita Bartley (Jacksonville, Fla.) and sophomores Jaterra Bonds (Gainesville, Fla.) and Kayla Lewis (Decatur, Ga.) tallied one apiece.

    “We tried to focus on stopping (Jordan) Jones from the start of the game and she still got 13 threes off on us,” Michigan head coach Kevin Borseth said. “She can really fill it up and shoot it. They ran some nice plays that Amanda has for them and they got us on a couple double-screens. She (Jones) got open and to her credit, made them. She was the focus from the start.”

    Bartley (11) and Jones (21) each scored in double-digits as Jones achieved her 50th career double-figure scoring. For Bartley, it was the 11th of her Florida career. The Gators’ starting lineup collaborated for 48 points and 20 of UF’s 36 rebounds on the evening, while the bench chipped in 18 points and nine boards. Eight of UF’s nine players put up points, while all nine grabbed at least one rebound, led by senior Azania Stewart’s (Wood Green, England) six. Stewart was 3-for-5 from the floor and 2-for-3 from the charity stripe, finishing with eight points, but was strapped with foul trouble most of the evening.

    Friday’s contest was a fight until the end in the first meeting between Michigan and Florida – neither team led by more than six points throughout the duration of the full 40 minutes – leading to a climatic finale that ended in a heartbreaker for the Gators.

    With just under three minutes left in regulation, Bartley had success on a breakaway layup to take Florida up, 60-59, after the Gators forced one of the Wolverines’ 18 turnovers in the game, but Michigan responded with a Rachel Sheffer jumper to take UM up, 61-60. The final charge started when senior Ndidi Madu (Antioch, Tenn.) laid in a shot that put UF up, 62-61, with 2:03 on the clock, but Michigan’s Carmen Reynolds countered with a three that gave the Wolverines momentum and a 64-62 advantage. Following a Jones foul, Courtney Boylan capitalized with an and-one layup that extended the UM lead, 67-62, following the free throw with 27 seconds remaining.

    Florida was persistent, though, showing drive until the end as Stewart battled underneath, drawing a foul and knocking down one of two free throws to narrow the margin, 67-63, with 17.1 seconds on the clock. Reynolds’ effort was relentless as the senior rallied for her final points on a layup with six seconds left that gave Michigan its largest lead of the game – six points – and sealed the deal for the Wolverines with 69 points.

    “It was a game where we really didn’t catch fire until the last two minutes and there were like 20-some lead changes.  I don’t think the lead was any more than a possession that whole game and it was pretty much tooth and nail,” Borseth continued. “It really wasn’t until the last two minutes of that game when we got that five-point lead – I don’t want to say it was on ice because it was never on ice at that point. We knew at the beginning of the game it would be possession-by-possession and I think these guys did a great job of being strong when they had to.”

    The Gators were able to tack on three more points on a Bonds three at the buzzer, but the Gators moved to 21-17 all-time on opening day as Michigan earned its first victory of the season in the first-ever meeting between the two programs.

    Florida shot just 33.3 percent (23-69) overall from the floor, with a 10-of-27 effort from beyond the arc, while Michigan shot a steady 49.1 percent (27-55), with 5-of-12 from long range, while winning the rebounding battle 42-36 and outscoring the Gators 32-18 in the paint.

    After a 33-30 halftime deficit in favor of UM, Jones jumped out of the gate with back-to-back threes to kick off the second period, but seven lead changes and two ties between the two physical squads ate up the first 10 minutes of the second half. Florida’s largest lead of the contest came with 9:59 on the clock when the Gators went on an 8-2 run to go up, 50-46, following a Lewis layup; but Michigan’s 49 percent shooting form the floor proved to be a little too much for the Orange and Blue.

    Michigan grabbed 42 rebounds to UF’s 36, but the Gators forced 18 Wolverine turnovers, only committing 11.

    Florida started the night right, winning the opening tip of the contest and allowing Jones to set the early tone by draining her initial three-pointer to get Florida on the board first. A physical back-and-forth exchange through the first 20 minutes kept the game fairly even as the teams entered the locker room at the half with just a three-point differential.

    The first half brought eight ties and 11 lead changes between the two squads, with Jones leading the Orange and Blue with three treys and two free throws for 11 points. Bartley and Bonds both collaborated for five points, as Bartley hit a clutch three early to put UF up, 8-6.

    Florida took advantage from the charity stripe, going 5-for-6 to capitalize on seven Michigan fouls, but a pesky UM offense that shot 50 percent from the floor in the first period gave the Wolverines a presence as Boylan led the Michigan offensive output with eight points, while Sheffer and Reynolds each had seven.

    Michigan and Florida traded points for the first 10 minutes as Jones and Bartley both hit threes, Bartley layed one in and Bonds and Stewart each chipped in four points apiece before Lewis snagged an offensive rebound and hit a jumper to knot the game at 18-all.

    It was nearly three and a half minutes of solid defense for both teams before a Nicole Elmblad layup broke the tie in favor of Michigan at the 7:09 mark, followed by a free throw from Boylan that gave the Wolverines the 21-18 lead. Jones was quick to strike back as she sunk a three to tie the score at 21 with just over five minutes on the clock.

    Jones rallied for two free throws and her third three of the half down the stretch, while Svete hit her first of two threes in the game and Bonds sunk a free throw to give UF 30 points at the half. Sheffer and Reynolds knocked down back-to-back layups to carry UM into the locker room ahead by three.

    Boylan (21), Reynolds (15) and Sheffer (13) led the Wolverines in scoring, while Boylan and Jenny Ryan collaborated for seven boards each on the defensive end for Michigan.
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    Vanderbilt Defeats Alabama A&M

    The Vanderbilt women's basketball team used an impressive shooting night to score an 86-55 victory over Alabama A&M in its season opener. The Commodores improved to 1-0 on the season, while the Bulldogs fell to 0-1.

    Guards Jasmine Lister and Christina Foggie led the way for Vanderbilt with 22 and 18 points, respectively. Lister added seven assists, while committing no turnovers. She was also 4-of-6 from 3-point land.

    Three other Commodores were in double-figures. Tiffany Clarke picked up 11 points, while grabbing seven rebounds. Freshman Maggie Morrison had an impressive collegiate debut with 10 points, five assists and four rebounds. Junior Elan Brown narrowly missed a double-double with 10 points and nine rebounds.

    Alabama A&M was led by 25 points and eight rebounds from Whiquitta Tobar. Shundray Davis added 13 points and nine rebounds. Outside of their two guards, the Bulldogs did not get much scoring output, as no one else on the squad recorded more than five points.

    Morrison's play was especially important to Vanderbilt Head Coach Melanie Balcomb, as her team was without junior guard Gabby Smith (concussion, day-to-day) and saw freshman guard Kady Schrann roll an ankle late in the first half.

    "(Having Morrison) helps because I like being able to move Lister to the two-guard and having Maggie at the point to distribute," Balcomb said, before adding Scrhann could have returned had the necessity presented itself.

    Balcomb was also pleased with how her team handled the Alabama A&M 3-2 zone defense, which the Commodores did not expect to see.

    "You saw tonight that when we go slow, we're pretty good shooters. We started off shooting six-of-10 from three and they had to go to man," said Balcomb.

    The Commodores shot 48.5% from the field, including 45.0% from three. Size and depth both proved to be a factor, as Vanderbilt outscored Alabama A&M in the paint, 38-28, as well as off the bench, 23-9.

    Vanderbilt nearly doubled-up on the Bulldogs in the first half, taking a 45-23 lead into the break. Three-point shooting helped open up the lead, as the Commodores were 7-10 from beyond the arc. Lister was an impressive 6-7 from the field, as well as 3-3 from 3-point range in the frame.
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    Kentucky Wins At Morehead State

    MOREHEAD, Ky. (AP) - Kastine Evans scored a career-high 23 points and No. 18 Kentucky used a second-half scoring spree to cruise past Morehead State 96-60 in the season opener for both teams on Friday night.

    Down 32-31 at halftime to the Eagles, the Wildcats opened the second half on a 9-0 run and wouldn't trail again. Kentucky extended that early spree to a whopping 36-10 run at one point in the second frame, and finished the half outscoring Morehead State 65-28.

    Kentucky's 65 point outburst was the most scored in any half in team history, as the Wildcats shot 69 percent (20 of 29) in the frame.

    A'dia Mathies added 16 points, Keyla Snowden had 15 and Maegan Conwright chipped in 11 for the Wildcats.

    Courtney Lumpkin led the Eagles with 12 points and Ashar Harris grabbed 20 rebounds.

    Kentucky has won eight straight against Morehead State and holds a 25-4 all-time advantage.