Gamecocks Fight Past Alabama A&M, 60-53
|women's BASkEtBALL RESULTS
|South Carolina 60, Alabama A&M 53
|Florida 71, Stetson 57
|Mississippi State 71, Xavier 65
COLUMBIA, S.C. - A strong night for the frontcourt helped South Carolina to a 60-53 victory over Alabama A&M in women’s basketball action Monday night at Colonial Life Arena. The Gamecocks pounded the ball inside to junior Ashley Bruner and freshman Aleighsa Welch, and the duo combined for 27 of the team’s 60 points.
“[Ashley and Aleighsa] played great tonight, and they play great together in practice,” South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley said. “I thought Aleighsa played especially will with it being her second college game. I knew she would instantly help our basketball team because she is pretty aggressive, has a great basketball IQ and doesn’t mind mixing it up. Ashley’s a starter for us, but for right now she’s giving us a bang off the bench. She’s doing the things she has done the last couple years for us.”
For the Gamecocks, the offense opened up with some long range shooting early, then got the inside and transition games going to build a 15-point lead midway through the half. South Carolina went on a 15-2 run behind an aggressive defense keyed by the entrance of Ebony Wilson. The run started with an Aleighsa Welch put back followed by Ashley Bruner’s move on the left block with a 13-10 Gamecock lead. After Alabama A&M hit a free throw, the Gamecocks scored the next eight points as the Bulldogs turned it over three straight possessions. Bruner added four of the points with Ieasia Walker hitting a pair of transition layups and a free throw for a 22-11 South Carolina lead with under 10 minutes to play in the half. Sutton added a driving layup, and Welch closed the run with a transition layup to put the Gamecocks up 26-11.
The Bulldogs fought back, capitalizing on a series of Gamecock turnovers. Trailing 30-16 with two minutes left in the half, A&M scored the final eight points of the period to trail just 30-24 at the break.
At the start of the second half Ashley Bruner came out strong, going 3-of-3 from the field bringing the Gamecock advantage up to 39-30. With the lead hovering around nine points, Welch became the offensive aggressor, scoring the Gamecocks’ next eight points. Rebounding kept the Bulldogs close, however, and closed the gap to 51-47 with 5:33 to play. From there, Gamecock guards Walker and La’Keisha Sutton took control, repeatedly driving to the basket and hitting the resulting free throws to hold off the A&M and collect the win.
Bruner led the team in scoring with 15 total points, followed closely by Walker and Sutton with 13 apiece. Welch rounded out the double-digit scorers for South Carolina with 12 points and fell one rebound shy of her first career double-double with a team-high nine rebounds. Bruner pulled down five of her eight rebounds on the offensive end, and Sutton reeled in six boards. Senior Markeshia Grant handed out a career-high six assists on the night.
Gators Defeat Stetson, 71-57
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The University of Florida women’s basketball team used a strong defensive effort, holding Stetson to 28.3 percent (17-60) shooting from the field and forcing 17 turnovers, to pick up its first win of the 2011-12 campaign, 71-57, tonight at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. For the game, the Gators were led by junior Jennifer George (Orlando, Fla.), who tied a career-high with 21 points, on 9-of-16 shooting, and added nine rebounds.
“I was really proud with the way that we played down the stretch,” UF head coach Amanda Butler said. “I think that a lot of credit goes to our strength coach when you see the way we closed out the ball game in the last three minutes. I haven’t looked at that segment statistically, but there is no question that our team had the energy to create our own momentum and make big plays. A lot of that was instigated by our defense and really just locking up and trying to take away some of the things that had been successful with earlier in the ball game.”
In addition to the 21 points from George, eight additional Gators scored, paced by Deana Allen (Houma, La.) and Jordan Jones (Suwanee, Ga.), who added 11 and nine points respectively to help balance out the UF offensive attack. For the game, the Orange and Blue shot 46.7 percent (28-60) and outscored Stetson by 26 points in the paint (46-20) to help secure its 13th consecutive victory over the Hatters (1-1).
The Hatters got out to quick start to begin the game, jumping out to an early 12-7 advantage before the Gators responded rallying off the next nine points behind a balanced effort which saw five different UF players contribute in the run. After the teams exchanged baskets for the next few minutes, Stetson closed the half on a 12-5 run to take a 30-29 lead into the half. George and Jones led the Gator charge in the first half with seven points apiece, while Allen added five and corralled seven boards. There were 10 lead changes and four tied scores during the first 20 minutes of action.
The Gators (1-1) set the tone for the rest of the game early in the second half, when they opened the frame with an 8-0 run, using three made jumpers and lockdown defense to force the Hatters into a timeout less than two minutes into the half. From there, UF kept up the pressure not allowing Stetson to get within four points the rest of the way as it cruised to the double-digit victory.
In the second half, the Gators outscored Stetson 42-27 behind an impressive 58.1 percent (18-31) shooting output and 14 points and five rebounds from George.
LSU OPENS NIKKI CALDWELL ERA WITH 64-56 ROAD WIN OVER WICHITA STATE
WICHITA, Kan. – Senior forward LaSondra Barrett scored 16 points and converted a clutch three-point play in the final minute as the 21st-ranked LSU women’s basketball team opened up the Nikki Caldwell era with a 64-56 win over Wichita State on Monday night in Charles Koch Arena.
The Lady Tigers (1-0) committed 22 turnovers and attempted 12 fewer shots than Shockers, who benefited from an 11-of-37 effort from three-point range. The 35 attempts were the most ever by an opponent against LSU. Wichita State dropped to 1-1 on the season after opening the year with a win over Northwestern State on Saturday.
“Give Wichita State a lot of credit,” said Caldwell, who made her LSU coaching debut. “They exploited us on some of our missed rotations defensively and they continued to fight until the end. We broke down defensively, adjusted and went more to our man-to-man (defense).
“I am proud of our team hanging tough at the end and coming out with a win. I was pleased with us hitting big shots when we needed to. It’s the first game on the road, but if you limit those turnovers we have more chances to score the basketball. We have to be better in that area. You have to make every possession count, especially on the road.”
Sophomore Jeanne Kenney added 15 points and dished out a career-best five assists. Kenney had 12 in the second half in the first start of her career. The Baton Rouge native connected on 4-of-5 from three-point range, including two late in the second half that rallied LSU from a five-point deficit. Freshman Krystal Forthan had eight points, seven rebounds and a block in her collegiate debut.
Wichita State was led in scoring by Jessica Diamond, who finished with 16 points and was 4-of-8 from beyond the arc. LSU saw a four-point halftime lead evaporate seven minutes into the second half when Diamond drained back-to-back treys that made it 44-39 Shockers.
Kenney then scored five of LSU’s next seven points, including a three from the left corner that tied it at 46 apiece with 11:07 to go. With 7:01 left in the game, Kenney sparked a quick 6-0 spurt with another trey and she was the catalyst of a brilliant three-point play that gave the Lady Tigers the lead for good.
Kenney gathered a missed free throw, fired a pass in transition to Courtney Jones, who found Barrett for a layup and an ensuing made free throw. LSU led 60-54 and Barrett converted another three-point play with 0:57 remaining that put the game away. Barrett, a National Player of the Year candidate, scored the final four points for LSU.
Despite the turnovers, the Lady Tigers were efficient offensively, shooting 61.5 percent from the floor. The Shockers shot 30.8 percent and were out-rebounded 38-31.
LSU committed 13 turnovers in the first half and seven turnovers in the first six minutes. The Shockers capitalized and built an 8-2 lead. Theresa Plaisance then came off the bench and the Lady Tigers rallied with seven straight to take their first lead. Plaisance buried a three from the right corner and added a lay-up that made it 9-8 in favor of LSU with 13:34 remaining in the half. They took a 35-31 lead into the locker room.
LSU returns to Baton Rouge for its home opener against No. 14 Georgetown at 7 p.m. CT Wednesday in the Maravich Center. The first 1,000 fans in attendance will receive a free Nikki Caldwell signed mini-basketball. At halftime, two tickets to the LSU-Arkansas football game will be given away. It will be a student priority point game for LSU students and the first 200 LSU students will receive free nachos.
MISSISSIPPI STATE MOVES TO 2-0 WITH TOUGH WIN AGAINST XAVIER
STARKVILLE, Miss. –Mississippi State’s Martha Awal posted her second double-double of the young campaign and Diamber Johnson poured in 21 points as the Lady Bulldogs knocked off Xavier 71-65 in a women’s basketball game Monday night at Humphrey Coliseum.
Trailing 18-15 midway through the first half, the Lady Bulldogs (2-0) scored 10 points and did not trail for the remainder of the contest. MSU led by as many as 13 points and withstood one final Xavier rally to post a second consecutive victory at home.
The victory also made sweet amends for last season’s 61-36 setback to Xavier in a contest played in Cincinnati. Xavier had won three straight meetings in the series.
“It feels really great to get this win,” said Johnson, a senior guard. “I’ve been here for four years, and we’ve never beaten Xavier. It was nice to get a little taste of revenge.”
While the Musketeers (1-1) are in the atypical position of not being nationally ranked, the Xavier squad is still five-time defending champions of the Atlantic 10 Conference.
“I realize that Xavier lost some players, but four of those players (played) against us last year,” MSU head coach Sharon Fanning-Otis said. “They had some players that had been really successful together, and a couple of transfers which means they were another year older (and came) from some pretty good programs.”
Alwal, the reigning Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Week, scored 14 points and pulled down a team-high 11 rebounds in 32 minutes of work. This effort came on the heels of 11 rebounds and 10 blocked shots in MSU’s season-opening win over Jacksonville State.
Xavier started strong Monday night, sprinting to a 10-2 advantage at the first media time out. Johnson scored on two of her team’s next three possessions to bring the hosts within 10-8. Xavier ran the lead back out to 16-9 and still led 18-15 before defensive pressure started the game-deciding run.
A jumper by Alwal placed the Maroon and White in the lead for good. Porsha Porter followed with a steal and fast-break layup. Another Xavier turnover led to Ashley Brown layup as the hosts grabbed a 25-18 lead with 7:43 left before halftime.
The Lady Bulldogs eased into halftime with a 37-32 advantage. Despite allowing 53.8 percent shooting from the field, the Lady Bulldogs offset that by forcing 12 first-half turnovers. Xavier also had a 21-15 rebounding advantage at the break.
In the second half, the Lady Bulldogs took matters on the defensive end and seized complete control of the contest.
“We changed defenses on them, but we gave up some layups because we did not have the weak side help,” Fanning-Otis said. “You saw them with a couple of open threes. But, hopefully, we will get tougher and learn from each other.
“When we had a 13-point lead, I had hoped that at that point we could put a team away. That’s something we have to grow into.”
After Xavier closed within 37-35, the Lady Bulldogs moved back out to a comfortable lead with a 12-1 run. A layup by Porter gave the hosts a game-best 49-36 lead with 14:37 remaining.
Xavier did hang tough, reeling off eight straight points to close within five. The Musketeers would get within two on three different occasions in the second half, including at 67-65 with 53 seconds left. Johnson, who finished with eight second-half points, sank four free throws to close out the victory.
“During the second half, I was really trying to get everyone involved, but things weren’t really falling for them,” Johnson said. “I knew it was time for me to take over. I was comfortable with myself taking those shots.”
For the contest, the Lady Bulldogs hit 28 of 69 shots from the field (40.6 percent), 3 of 9 shots from 3-point range (33.3 percent) and 12 of 18 shots from the foul line (66.7 percent). The Musketeers hit 22 of 51 shots from the field (43.1 percent), 7 of 22 shots from 3-point range (31.8 percent) and 14 of 20 shots from the foul line (70.0 percent).
Xavier held a 43-37 rebounding advantage. The Lady Bulldogs had 13 assists and eight turnovers, while the Musketeers had 15 assists and 19 turnovers.
Porter was also in double figures with 14 points, while Brown pulled down seven rebounds in 21 minutes before fouling out late in the contest. MSU had a remarkable 13 steals, including six by Porter. Johnson dished out a team-high seven assists.
Xavier received a double-double from Jessica Pachko (14 points, 11 rebounds). Others in double figures included Tyeasha Moss with 14 points, Shatyra Hawkes with 12 points and Lynette Holmes with 12 points.