SEC Women's Basketball Today: November 22 > SEC > NEWS
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    SEC Women's Basketball Today: November 22

    women's BASkEtBALL RESULTS
    South Carolina 45, Hampton 34
    Central Florida 64, Mississippi State 56
    Missouri 49, Wichita State 44

    Gamecocks Escape with 45-34 Win Over Hampton

    ST. THOMAS, U.S.V.I. - South Carolina fought out a 45-34 victory over Hampton in the first game of the U.S. Virgin Islands Paradise Jam on Thursday afternoon. In a game that saw more rebounds than points, the Gamecocks (5-0) got a double-double from sophomore Aleighsa Welch (16 points/11 rebounds) to stay undefeated on the season. Of Welch’s 16 points, 12 came in the second half, including 10 of the team’s first 13 in the period.

    Offense was tough to come by for both teams in the first half with the Gamecocks edging out to a 19-13 lead heading into the locker room. The teams combined for just 12 field goals in the first 20 minutes, and South Carolina stayed in front behind solid rebounding and 50.0 percent 3-point shooting.

    Tiffany Mitchell put South Carolina up 5-0 with a 3-pointer from the right side, just the second of the season for the slashing guard. Hampton pulled within a point at 5-4 before a four-minute scoring drought set in. Ashley Bruner ended it with a basket from the left block, and Asia Dozier stretched the lead to 10-4 with a 3-pointer from the top of the arc. The Gamecocks put together three straight baskets in the longest scoring surge of the half, kicked off by a 3 from Wilka Montout and helped by three straight turnovers from the Lady Pirates. Mitchell made them pay for the first with a driving layup, and Welch put back a miss for a 17-6 Gamecock lead with 3:30 left in the half. Hampton answered by scoring on three straight possessions as well, but could only draw within six.

    Things picked up out of the locker room as Welch took control of the paint and Ieasia Walker had her shot dialed in from outside. Welch scored the first six points of the half to give the Gamecocks a double-digit lead at 25-15, and Walker stretched it with a 3-pointer from the right side. South Carolina extended its lead to 36-21 before the Lady Pirates took advantage of repeated trips to the free throw line to draw within nine with 7:17 on the clock.

    Bruner and Welch turned back the tide with a putback and a transition layup, respectively, to get the Gamecocks back in front 40-27. From there, both defenses took over, and the Gamecocks avoided becoming the third SEC victim of the Lady Pirates this season. For South Carolina, it was a defensive effort that limited Hampton’s top scorer, Keiara Avant, who entered the game averaging 22.0 points, to single digits for the first time this season.

    Welch was the only Gamecock in double-figure points, but Bruner joined her on the glass with 12 rebounds. South Carolina won the rebounding matchup 57-32 and held Hampton to just 19.3 (11-57) percent shooting, tied for fifth-lowest by an opponent in Gamecock women’s basketball history (originally set by Florida A&M on Dec. 30, 2001).

    South Carolina will have to shake off the battle quickly as the Gamecocks take on Florida Gulf Coast on Friday at 3:30 p.m. (ET) before squaring off with DePaul on Saturday, also at 3:30 p.m. (ET).

    Alwal, Grant Score 19 Each As Bulldogs Fall To UCF, 64-56

    PUERTO VALLARTA, Mexico – Martha Alwal posted her third double-double of the season with 19 points and 11 rebounds, and Kendra Grant also scored 19 points as Mississippi State fell 64-56 to Central Florida in the final game of the Hardwood Tournament of Hope in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

    Alwal and Grant, both sophomores, combined to hit 12-of-25 shots from the field, including 13-of-17 shots from the foul line.

    In the tournament, Alwal and Grant averaged 17.3 and 12.7 ppg, respectively. Alwal also hauled in 9.7 rebounds per contest while blocking 1.7 shots over the three games.

    “Both Kendra and Martha played 39 minutes today. When they are on and playing well, it is so obvious. For us as coaches, we see things they can continue to work on to be even better players,” head coach Vic Schaefer said. “They have played a lot of minutes over three games, and we’re proud of the way they gutted it out.

    “We’ve had some kids affected by illness every game this trip, but I’m proud of the way they have been resilient and tried to fight through it,” Schaefer added. “We haven’t always played well, but we’ve played hard all three days. With this group, I’m very proud of them for that.”

    In the Thanksgiving Day contest, the Bulldogs (2-4) struggled out of the gate with early turnover troubles. MSU gave away possession five times, as Central Florida scored the game’s first 11 points. The Bulldogs slowly answered with the game’s next nine points, including six by Alwal.

    MSU closed within one on two occasions before a layup by Andrea Hines capped a 9-2 run for Central Florida. That spurt pushed the Golden Knights to a 25-17 advantage.

    The Bulldogs trailed by four on two more occasions before Central Florida eased out to a 30-23 advantage at halftime.

    MSU posted its highest first-half shooting percentage, 47.8 percent, but was plagued by 12 turnovers.

    Central Florida scored the first eight points of the second half to extend the advantage to 38-23 advantage. The Bulldogs broke the scoring drought with an Alwal free throw, and MSU closed within 41-29 on a 3-point play by Grant.

    With 8:58 remaining, Grant hit two free throws to pull MSU within 10 at 45-35. Falling down again by as many 15, the resilient Bulldogs made one final push. A 3-pointer by Jerica James brought MSU within 57-51, and a trey by Grant made it 59-54 with 2:19 left.

    UCF, however, answered with a 3-point play by Erika Jones to push the lead to eight, 62-54.

    Darriel Gaynor cut the deficit to six with 1:33 left, but the Golden Knights added a pair of free throws to clinch the win.

    “I was proud of the kids. They played hard and showed resilience today. We finally got into a little bit of a rhythm offensively in the second half, something that has been a struggle for us all year,” Schaefer said. “Rebounding continues to be a thorn in our side, but hopefully after a trip like this we can fix some things with a couple days of practice before we play Wednesday.”

    For the contest, the Bulldogs hit 20 of 52 shots from the field (38.5 percent), 2 of 12 shots from 3-point range (16.7 percent) and 14 of 19 shots from the foul line (73.7 percent). The Golden Knights hit 22 of 57 shots from the field (38.6 percent), 6 of 16 shots from 3-point range (37.5 percent) and 14 of 23 shots from the foul line (60.9 percent).

    Central Florida held a 39-34 rebounding advantage. The Bulldogs had nine assists and 19 turnovers, while the Golden Knights had 16 assists and 16 turnovers.

    The Golden Knights received 17 points from Gevenia Carter and 13 from Kayli Keough.

    MSU returns home to host Savannah State at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Humphrey Coliseum.

    Tigers Earn Thanksgiving Win over Wichita State

    Cancun, Mexico - Missouri Women's Basketball (4-0) started off the Cancun Challenge on the right foot, earning a 49-44 victory over Wichita State (2-2) on Wednesday. Senior Sydney Crafton led the Tigers with 14 points on the game, marking her third double figure scoring game this season. Crafton finished 4-for-5 from the field, and she made 5-of-6 shots from the free throw line.

    Scoring in the game started right off the bat, with a jumper from Wichita State in the first few seconds of play, but Bri Kulas quickly responded with a basket of her own, marking the beginning of a 6-0 run for the Tigers. A huge block by Sydney Crafton led the teams into the under-16 media timeout, and, despite the team's fast start, Mizzou kept the Shockers from finding the net until the 14-minute mark on the clock.

    Leading the scoring for Mizzou in the first half, Liz Smith hit a jumper with 11:24 on the clock, forcing Wichita State to take a timeout and giving Mizzou a 10-9 lead.

    With 10:35 left in the half, WSU's Jazmien Gordon made a layup to give the Shockers a brief lead in the game, but Crafton sunk two free throws to put Mizzou back on top. Morgan Eye then hit a clutch three-pointer helping the Tigers to a 15-11 lead just before the under-8 media timeout.

    With just under two minutes to play in the first half, the Tigers pulled away thanks to a three-pointer from Crafton and a layup from Kulas. Wichita State answered with a layup in the last minute making it 20-15 in Mizzou's favor. Kulas was fouled with 22 seconds left, and sunk both from the charity stripe. The Tigers went into the locker room at the half with a 22-15 lead over Wichita State.
    Crafton started off the scoring in the second half for Mizzou, sinking a free throw and following it up with a layup for the Tigers. The score was answered by a Wichita State three-pointer, but MU still led 25-18 at the under-16 timeout.

    With 15:11 left on the clock, Bri Kulas hit a key three-pointer to negate an earlier jump shot from Wichita State, keeping the Tigers ahead 28-20. After two free throws from Lianna Doty the Tigers continued to lead 30-23.

    After a Wichita State timeout, a wide-open Maddie Stock added a trey, giving Mizzou a 10-point lead, their largest of the game. Crafton added a layup, putting Mizzou up 35-23. With just under 10 minutes left in the game, Crafton hit another fastbreak layup followed almost immediately by another three from Maddie Stock.

    Wichita State put a few points on the board, but an and-one from Doty with 6:40 on the clock held on to the lead for Missouri, putting the Tigers up 43-30. With just over two minutes in the game, the Shockers added a free throw and a layup to creep up on the Tigers' lead, 44-37, but Crafton kept the Tigers afloat, making two from the charity stripe.

    Missouri held on to its 46-41 lead through the last minute of the game, but a foul on Liene Priede gave WSU's Alex Harden two free throws with just 13 seconds left. Harden made one of her shots, and Kyley Simmons was fouled a few seconds later. Simmons added a free throw giving Mizzou the 47-42 lead, but WSU broke away and recorded another layup. Eye hit two free throws after the game's final foul, helping the Tigers to their first win of the Cancun Challenge.

    Missouri will hit the hardwood again tomorrow at 5 p.m. against the Green Bay Phoenix. The game will be broadcast live on KTGR FM and a live video feed will be available on the Mizzou Network. Fans can also follow along with the team on Twitter (@MissouriWBB) and Facebook (