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    SEC Wednesday Women's Recaps

    South Carolina 65, Savannah State 39
    Ole Miss 74, Cleveland State 63
    Marist 69, Auburn 61
    Kentucky 90, Samford 61
    Florida 62, Duquense 49
    Arkansas 86, Texas Southern 41

    Gamecocks Roll in 65-39 Win Over Savannah State

    COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina women’s basketball earned its 10th win of the season in a 65-39 victory over Savannah State on Wednesday at Colonial Life Arena.  The win gives the Gamecocks a 10-2 start, their best since the 2002-03 campaign when South Carolina ran out to a 13-1 record.  It also marks the first season that a Dawn Staley team has notched double-digit wins prior to the start of SEC competition.
    The teams traded baskets early in the first half while both squads struggled to find a rhythm. South Carolina settled down after the first media timeout and went on a 17-5 run to take a 23-9 lead midway through the first half. Freshman forward Aleighsa Welch did a bulk of the damage during the surge, netting nine of her team-high 15 points in that span.

    “[Aleighsa Welch] has been playing extremely well for us. I’m not surprised by what she’s been able to do; she’s a very intelligent basketball player, she plays hard,” said Staley.  “She understands conceptually what we’re trying to do on both sides of the ball, and she’s aggressive. She’s way ahead of what you think a freshman would be able to come in and contribute.”

    Play was choppy late in the period, but the Gamecocks took a 33-17 advantage into the locker room. After giving up the opening basket of the second half to the Lady Tigers, the Gamecocks went on a 24-6 run to open up a 57-26 lead with just over eight minutes to go in the game.  After the run, South Carolina was able to cruise to the final horn.

    The Gamecocks made a huge impact on the boards throughout the contest, claiming a 38-19 advantage on the glass.  Seventeen of the Gamecocks’ rebounds came on the offensive end of the court, leading to 16 second-chance points.  The Gamecocks were also able to limit the Lady Tigers’ second chances as well, allowing only one offensive rebound in the first half and four for the game. 

    Junior guard Ieasia Walker added 11 points, and junior guard Sancheon White finished the game with 10 points, tying her highest point total in a Gamecock uniform.  Senior forward Charenee Stephens was the leader on the glass, pulling down seven boards to go with her eight points in just 15 minutes of action.  Welch added five rebounds as well.  Junior forward Ashley Bruner led the Gamecocks in assists, dishing out a career-high four.

    Sophomore forward Jasmine Kirkland netted 13 points and sophomore guards Ezinne Kalu tallied 10 points for the Lady Tigers.  Blessing Uba, a sophomore guard, led Savannah State with four rebounds. 


    Ole Miss Hoops Wins Third Straight

    OXFORD, Miss. – Ole Miss won its third consecutive game Wednesday, beating Cleveland State, 74-63, to win the Magnolia Classic. With the win, Ole Miss improved to 9-3 while Cleveland State fell to 4-6.

    Valencia McFarland recorded her first career double-double with 14 points and 10 assists.  Nikki Byrd added 14 points and six boards while Danielle McCray scored a career-high 12 points. The Rebels ended the game with 22 assists on 32 field goals.

    For the game, the Rebels shot 57.1 percent (32-56) from the floor while the Vikings shot 43.4 percent (43.3). Ole Miss and Cleveland state played a close first half with neither team taking more than a five-point lead in the half.  The Rebels took a five-point lead, 28-23, on a basket from Byrd with 5:56 left in the half. 

    Cleveland State went up one, 36-35, with 15 seconds left in the half before Maggie McFerrin hit a three for the Rebels with 2.8 seconds remaining as Ole Miss led, 38-36, at the half.  McFarland and Byrd each had eight points for the Rebels at the break. Ole Miss shot 59.3 percent (16-27) from the floor while Cleveland State shot 44.8 percent (13-29).

    In the second half, Ole Miss used a 10-1 run to push its lead to 51-42 on a layup from Kenyotta Jenkins.  Cleveland State cut Ole Miss’ lead to five with 2:35 to play and the Rebels held the Vikings without a point for the remainder of the game. 


    Auburn Drops Tournament Opener To Marist, 69-61

    HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. – Trailing by as many as 15 points in the second half, the Auburn women’s basketball team cut the Marist lead to four in the final minute, but would get no closer in a 69-61 loss to the Red Foxes (5-4) in the first round of the New York Life Holiday Tournament hosted by Hofstra. The Tigers (6-4) will play in the consolation game at 11 a.m. CT, tomorrow against Central Connecticut State (6-4).

    “I was pleased with the way we fought back and I thought we really had a shot there at the end,” said Auburn head coach Nell Fortner. “We just have to get better on both ends, offensively and defensively.”

    Auburn struggled from the field for the fourth game in a row, shooting 37.7 percent on 23-of-61 shooting. The Tigers, however, were hot from 3-point rage, knocking down 10-of-24 attempts for 41.7 percent.

    “We have not been able to put points on the board, that seems to be the case the last couple weeks,” said Fortner. “I am not sure if it is confidence or what, but we missed a lot of open looks.”

    Junior Blanche Alverson led the Tigers with a season-high 20 points, knocking down four 3-pointers. Alverson also had five rebounds with a block and a steal. Sophomore Camille Glymph tallied her fourth double-digit effort in the last five games, scoring 11 points with a pair of assists.

    Senior Morgan Jennings came off the bench to lead the Tigers with seven rebounds, six assists and two steals.

    Auburn and Marist traded baskets to open the game with the Tigers taking an 11-9 lead with 12:44 to go. But, the Red Foxes went on a 12-2 run, fueled by eight points from Corielle Yarde, to take a 21-13 lead. Auburn cut the Marist lead to three with 2:55 left but could not keep it up as the Rex Foxes pulled away for a 34-25 halftime lead.

    Marist came out and took control early in the second half, leading by no fewer than seven points and at one point going on an 8-0 run to take a 15-point lead with 10:15 left in the game. Marist still led by 10 with 1:43 left, but the Tigers went on a small run of its own, scoring six straight to cut the lead to four with 49 seconds left. The Red Foxes made good at the free-throw line, though, and held on for the 69-61 win.

    Yarde led Marist with a game-high 21 points, along with nine assists and five rebounds. Brandy Gang added 15 points and a team-high seven rebounds while Kelsey Beynnon finished with 11.


    Kentucky Defeats Samford

    LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - Samantha Drake is glad to have new teammate Samarie Walker down in the paint with her, giving No. 8 Kentucky yet another option in its varied attack.

    Drake scored 18 points and Walker added 10 as the Wildcats rebounded from their first loss of the season by routing Samford 90-61 Wednesday night for Kentucky's 31st straight nonconference home victory.

    "It's a big help," Drake said. "I don't have to have all the pressure on me. Having another forward out there gives us a chance to have another big scorer inside."

    Drake anchoring UK Hoops' newfound post game

    Kentucky (11-1) never trailed against Samford (6-5) after falling at No. 3 Notre Dame on Sunday. Against the Bulldogs, everyone got involved with coach Matthew Mitchell using all 13 players on his bench in the first half.

    "I thought the players really had quality work the last couple of days coming off that disappointing loss. I thought we were able to refocus pretty well and get going. The improvement in the post game could help down the road," Mitchell said. "The last two days were real productive for us from a practice standpoint because we really did just try to slow things down and have not only our guards trying to find our post players."

    Paige Anderson led Samford with 24 points, but the Bulldogs only managed to hang around for the first 3½ minutes before Kentucky used a 9-0 run to take a 10-point lead. Kentucky's frenetic defense forced 28 turnovers that the Wildcats converted into 35 points.

    "They are a very good team that has a tremendous style of play that's a little different," Samford coach Mike Morris said. "You don't see it every day. They're deep. They can make you look very bad."

    Kentucky, which leads the nation in turnover margin and is second in scoring, managed to shoot 54.7 percent, its highest mark of the season.

    Azia Bishop scored 13 points, Keyla Snowden 12, and Bria Goss and Kastine Evans had 11 apiece for Kentucky. Walker, a transfer from Connecticut who was eligible for the first time against the Irish, also had seven rebounds in her first game at Memorial Coliseum in front of 5,311.

    "I was really excited at first, obviously about my first home game," said Walker, who got a loud ovation when she checked in for the first time. "When the crowd started cheering, I wasn't expecting that."

    Kylie Black's 3-pointer cut Kentucky's lead to 11-10, but the Wildcats went on a 9-0 spurt capped by consecutive baskets by Snowden. Kentucky needed less than 2 minutes to open up a 20-10 lead by capitalizing on three straight Samford turnovers.

    "We weathered the storm the first 3 minutes, then they're subbing five in, five out so much and that's really tough on us," Anderson said. "We're still working into roles going into conference play and that's what a game like this is about. That's what coach said, we schedule these games to get better."

    Samford's 10th mistake and Kentucky's subsequent basket by Walker put the Wildcats ahead 30-14 with 11:23 left in the half. Kentucky pushed the lead to 40-20 a little over four minutes later and led 55-28 at halftime. It marked the most points the Wildcats have scored in the first half this season.

    Kentucky led 60-30 less than 2 minutes into the second half and led by as many as 36 points in the first matchup ever between the two schools.

    Ruth Ketcham scored 14 points and Jazmine Powers had 12 points for Samford.


    UF Women’s Hoops Halts Duquesne’s Streak with 62-49 Win in Gator Holiday Classic Title Game

    GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Junior forward Jennifer George (Orlando, Fla.) posted her fourth consecutive double-double and guided Florida to a hard-fought 62-49 victory against Duquesne Wednesday evening in the championship game of the 21st annual Gator Holiday Classic held at the O’Connell Center.

    George was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Performer after scoring 15 points with 13 rebounds and becoming the first Gator to tally four straight double-doubles since Vanessa Hayden strung together five such performances midway through the 2003-04 season.

    Joining George on the All-Tournament Team were teammates Jordan Jones (Suwanee, Ga.), who scored a team-best 18 points in the title game, and sophomore guard Jaterra Bonds (Gainesville, Fla.), who scored a season-high 16 points on 7-of-12 shooting against Duquesne (10-2), which had its program-record eight-game win streak come to an end.

    “I’m really proud of the way we played. Duquesne is a good team, a well-coached team and a team that is definitely a contender in the A-10,” said Gator head coach Amanda Butler. “It wasn’t the prettiest of ball games. In a sense that you always look at things and wish you would have done things better, but then you look at a win like this against a team like Duquesne and see that your best basketball is right ahead of you.

    “Everyone’s minutes, when they came and how they played them, was a contributing role in the game, and they did well,” Butler said. “We threw them in the fire and they made good decisions. I don’t think the point totals showed how our players off the bench contributed. On the flipside, the starters handled putting the points up for us. This was a team win, regardless of who scored the most or who tallied the most rebounds.”

    UF also used lockdown defense to secure the victory, limiting the Dukes, who entered the contest ranked 16th in the nation scoring an average of 77.3 points per game, to a mere 49 points on 32.8 percent from the field. Additionally, the Gators were able to shutout the Dukes from distance, as Duquesne went 0-for-19 from three-point arc.

    For the second straight evening the Gators (9-3) ripped out of the halftime locker room with great energy and scored the first 11 points to extend their one-point lead to a 33-21 advantage with 16:23 remaining in the game.

    Jones nailed a three-pointer 15 seconds into the second half and Florida rode that momentum to start an 11-0 run and extend its one-point lead to a 33-21 advantage with 16:23 remaining in the game.

    Duquesne scored its first points of the second half at the 15:56 mark after missing its first six shots.

    The Dukes refused to go away and were able to cut UF’s advantage to three, 39-36 with 9:58 remaining.

    Bonds then nailed a three-pointer and sparked a 7-0 spurt, pushing the Gator lead to back 10 points, 46-36, with 8:16 to play.

    Duquesne made one last puch, cutting UF’s cushion to five, 50-45, with 4:11 left but the Gators again responded, scoring the next six points as Lanita Bartley (Jacksonville, Fla.) converted one free throw, George hit a tough inside jumper and Jones nailed her third triple of the game and Florida held a 56-45 cushion with 2:11 on the clock.

    From that point forward, Bonds nailed a jumper and Jones went 4-for-4 from the free throw line to seal the victory.

    Orsi Szecsi led Duquesne with 15 points and earned a spot on the all-tournament team, while Wumi Agunbiade added 13 points and a team-high eight rebounds for the Dukes.

    It was tough in the early goings for Florida, which missed its first seven shots from the floor and didn’t connect on a field goal until senior Ndidi Madu (Antioch,Tenn.) hit one inside with 13:41 to go in the half. Fortunately for the Gators, Duquesne didn’t fare much better and held just an 8-6 lead at that stage.
    The Gators then missed their next three shots before Bonds nailed a three-pointer at the 7:49 mark and brought the Gators within two, 13-11. The teams traded makes before Bartley tipped-in a miss with 5:34 remaining and tied the game at 15 forcing a timeout by the Dukes, who had made just 7-of-26 shots at that point.

    Bonds continued her march and scored again with 4:19 remaining in the half to give Florida a 17-15 lead, its first of the game. Jones followed with a free throw and before she nailed the 250th three-pointer of her career that gave Florida a 22-19 lead with 48 seconds left in the opening frame and it would never trail again.

    After such a tough start shooting from the floor, Florida recovered and converted 35.7 percent (20-56) overall, including 48.1 percent in the second half when it out-scored the Dukes, 40-28.


    Robinson has 26 in big Razorback win

    FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – University of Arkansas sophomore Dominique Robinson dropped in a career-best 26 points leading the Razorback women’s basketball team to an 86-41 win over Texas Southern in Bud Walton Arena Wednesday in the final game before the holiday break.
    Arkansas moves to 10-1 on the year and has won 10 in a row while the Tigers fall to 1-8. Robinson had a career-best in the first half with 20 points shooting a perfect 8-for-8 from the floor.  She finished the game with 26 points on 11-for-12 shooting and had three rebounds in the win.
    “I wasn’t hitting much in warm-up,” Robinson said, “but when the ball tipped it was a different zone.  We have to be that intense every game and we were able to do that tonight.”
    “I’m pleased to be where we are in the season right now,” Arkansas head coach Tom Collen said.  “It was good to get the win and be 10-1 before the holiday.”
    Arkansas won the tip and never looked back opening the game with an 11-0 run that stretched to 16-0 through two timeouts in the first half.  Arkansas’ stingy defense gave up its first points of the game at the 12:51 mark when TSU finally got on the board, as the Razorbacks led 24-3.
    The Razorbacks quickly went to the bench with Collen substituting liberally as all the starters sat with well over 13 minutes remaining in the half.
    The half ended with Arkansas leading 45-20, shooting 43.6 percent including an 8-for-9 performance from the free throw line.  Arkansas had already out-rebounded Texas Southern 25-14, forced 15 turnovers and had seven steals at the break.
    Arkansas picked up where it left off in the second half with Robinson hitting right away and leading an 8-4 run.  Texas Southern’s offense was better in the second half but the large first-half deficit was too much for the Tigers to overcome, as Arkansas cruised to the win.
    The Razorbacks shot a season-high 44.4 percent behind Robinson’s game-leading performance.  Junior Sarah Watkins scored 16 points and had four blocks while Keira Peak and Jhasmin Bowen had 12 each.  Jamesha Townsend led the team with seven rebounds.