Wednesday night’s first-round win marked the seventh consecutive triumph for Texas A&M.
AUBURN - The Auburn women's basketball team utilized a 17-0 run early in the game to scrap its way to a 53-40 win over the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Wednesday at Auburn Arena. The Tigers improved to 9-2 on the season, while the Lady Mocs fell to 8-2. UT-Chattanooga entered the game with a pair of wins already this season over SEC teams, downing Tennessee in the season-opener and winning at Alabama.
"It wasn't the prettiest of wins, but we'll take it," Auburn head coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said. "I thought we really started the game on a good note. We got a good lead, and I think that really gave our kids a lot of confidence, especially with a very good UT-Chattanooga team. It's a game of runs. They made their run. We had a scoring drought which really took away from our lead, but our girls held on, and we won the game."
It proved to be a low-scoring game by both teams, as Auburn and UTC each posted season-lows in scoring. The Lady Mocs' 40 points were also the fewest allowed by the Auburn defense this season.
Hasina Muhammad led the Tigers with 19 points, followed by Blanche Alverson with 11. Alverson tallied her first double-double on the season, adding 10 rebounds in the effort. She is also now 30th all-time in career rebounding at Auburn with 461.
Muhammad is the only player in the SEC who has scored in double figures in each game this season. Dating back to last season, she has notched double figures in scoring in 13-straight games.
Auburn created a spark in the opening half with a 17-0 run, holding UTC scoreless for more than seven minutes. The Tigers took a 19-4 lead before Kayla Christopher hit a 3-pointer to end the run with 10:58 remaining in the half.
Muhammad and Alverson combined for 11 of the 17 points during the run, as well as 20 of Auburn's 28 points during the half. Muhammad led with 13 and Alverson added seven.
The Tigers limited the Lady Mocs to a season-low 15 points at halftime, as Auburn took a 28-15 lead into the locker room. UTC shot just 20.7 percent from the floor in the first half, the lowest of any Auburn opponent this season.
Both sides tallied 25 points apiece in the second half and traded field goals, but UTC could not come within seven points the rest of the way. Tra'Cee Tanner provided 22 quality minutes for Auburn off the bench, adding eight points and three rebounds in the second half, finishing the game with nine points and seven boards.
Ashlen Dewart and Kayla Christopher led for UTC with 13 and 11 points, respectively. Taylor Hall led the Lady Mocs with eight rebounds while Kylie Lambert and Ka'Vonne Towns added three assists each.
Najat Ouardad led Auburn with a game-high five assists. As a team, Auburn picked up 10 steals for the seventh time this season with Muhammad and Tyrese Tanner leading the team with three each.
Auburn returns to action Saturday when it takes on Jacksonville (4-6) at 2 p.m. CT at Auburn Arena. The game against the Dolphins is the next-to-last none-conference game of the season.
South Carolina Falls Just Short Against Top-Ranked Stanford
COLUMBIA, S.C. - No. 21/17 South Carolina had No. 1/1 Stanford on the ropes down the stretch, leading by two with 2:33 to play, but came up just short in the waning seconds to fall 53-49 in front of a rowdy 8,118 fans at Colonial Life Arena Wednesday night. Sophomore forward Aleighsa Welch led the way for the Gamecocks (10-1) with a season-high 17 points, scoring 13 in the second half. It was the Gamecock defense that made the game, however, forcing Stanford into 18 turnovers and holding the high-scoring Cardinal 25 points below its season average.
Senior guard Ieasia Walker joined Welch in double figures, scoring a season-best 15. Senior forward Ashley Bruner pulled in a team-high eight rebounds in the effort. South Carolina out-scored the Cardinal 30-29 in the second half and converted 18 Stanford turnovers into 11 points on the night.
Three Stanford players reached double digits, scoring 47 of the Cardinal's 53 points. Junior forward Chiney Ogwumike tallied 21 points and 15 rebounds, both game-highs. Junior guard Toni Kokenis added 15 points, and sophomore guard Amber Orrange registered 11. Stanford out-rebounded South Carolina 42-31, the first time the Gamecocks have been out-rebounded this season.
"I thought coming into this game, we would be able to hold our own because [our team] understood what it would come down to, and we just fell short. I think it's tremendous for our program to play in games like this, and I hope that the 8,000 people that came out tonight will come back and see us, because I think we put a good product on the floor that they can cheer loud for," said South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley.
Both teams struggled to find an offensive rhythm in the first minutes of the top-25 match-up. While South Carolina was able to create good offensive opportunities, the shots were not falling for the Gamecocks. Solid defense kept Stanford within striking distance.
Stanford pulled out to a seven-point lead at 14-7 midway through the first half on baskets by Ogwumike and Orrange. The Gamecocks responded with eight unanswered points to go ahead 15-14. Welch scored all four of her first-half points in the stretch as her basket sandwiched a driving layup from Walker. Freshman guard Tiffany Mitchell gave the Gamecocks the lead on a jumper at the 6:33 mark in the half.
South Carolina forced turnovers on the Cardinal's next four possessions, but could not convert any of them into points. Ogwumike netted six of her 12 first-half points to put Stanford back up by five at 22-17. Freshman guard Asia Dozier drained a jumper to pull the Gamecocks within three with 15 seconds remaining, but the Cardinal pushed the ball up the court, and Orrange added a basket just before the buzzer to give Stanford the 24-19 upper hand at the break.
After neither team scored for the first three minutes of the second half, the Gamecocks got on the board with a pair of free throws from Bruner. Welch added a transition layup and hit two free throws to bring the Gamecocks to within one at 26-25 with 15:48 left to play. Orrange converted a three-point play for Stanford to build a six-point lead five minutes into the second half, but the Gamecocks would let the Cardinal go no farther.
A 3 by Dozier with 11:47 on the clock cut the margin to two but the Cardinal again had an answer, this time with a three-point play by Kokenis. The two teams traded baskets over the next few minutes before the Gamecocks got some quick offense rolling.
With 6:12 remaining, Walker swiped one of her four steals on the night and took it coast-to-coast for a layup to draw the Gamecocks within a point at 38-37. After Ogwumike hit on the other end, Welch picked up a mishandled ball under the basket and stuck it in from the right block. The 9-2 run ended with a Walker 3-pointer from the top of the arc for a 42-40 South Carolina advantage with 4:32 on the clock.
The two teams fought through tough defense over the next three minutes to tie the game three times and trade the lead twice. Ogwmike converted a traditional three-point play with 2:04 to go to put the Cardinal up one at 45-44. On the next trip up the floor, Welch took a foul and went to the free throw line. She hit one of her two shots to knot the score for the fifth time in the half. Mikaela Reuf got the ball on Stanford's next possession, backing down her defender before watching her contested shot roll around the rim and in to give the Cardinal what would be its final lead of the night.
Walker added four more points as the senior fought valiantly to the end for what would have been a signature win of her career. But, Kokenis went to the line three times in the last 22.4 seconds, hitting all six of her attempts.
With 15 points, three assists, four steals and three rebounds, Walker drove her team to the brink of victory in an exhausting 35 minutes of action. In the end, the Gamecocks' 28.6 percent field goal shooting got the better of them as they created more offensive opportunities than Stanford, taking 63 shots to just 47 for the Cardinal. The final margin of four points marked the first time the Gamecocks came within fewer than 14 points of a No. 1 ranked team.
South Carolina is quickly back in action on Fri., Dec. 21, at noon when the Gamecocks take on South Carolina State at Colonial Life Arena before taking a short holiday break.
Bulldogs Hold Off Horned Frogs
FORT WORTH, Texas --- The No. 6 Georgia Lady Bulldogs watched TCU whittle a 22-point lead down to seven before holding on for a 72-59 victory at Daniel-Meyer Coliseum on Wednesday.
Anne Marie Armstrong and Jasmine Hassell led Georgia with 14 points apiece, while Erika Ford chipped in 13, 10 in the first half. Hassell grabbed a game-high nine rebounds, and Shacobia Barbee contributed six assists.
With the victory, Georgia improves to 12-0 on the year, equaling the sixth-best start in the program's history. The Lady Bulldogs also opened the 1994-95 and 1986-87 campaigns by stringing together a dozen wins. TCU fell to 5-4.
A Jasmine James jumper with 18:13 left in the game put Georgia up 45-23 and seemingly in control. TCU trimmed the margin to 15 points three times before eventually pulling within 53-46 at the 9:29 mark.
"You hoped they wouldn't get back in it like they did," head coach Andy Landers said. "We had some defensive breakdowns and they cashed in. It seemed like we were riding along up 20 and all of a sudden they scored and scored and scored and it became a 10-point game the rest of the way. We did make plays when we had to, though."
TCU had possession with a chance to cut the gap to five when a Khaahlidah Miller steal resulted in a James layup other end. Armstrong then scored on a Barbee assist to put Georgia back up 60-49 with 6:15 remaining.
The closest the Horned Frogs came thereafter was 63-55, but Armstrong was fouled attempting a three-pointer on UGA's next possession and converted all three opportunities at the line. That pushed Georgia's lead into double digits the rest of the way.
The Lady Bulldogs took control midway through the first half. Ford scored seven points in a 10-0 run that staked Georgia with a 25-12. The sophomore from Alpharetta scored on a short jumper at the 11:50 mark and followed that with a three 41 seconds later. Following a Tiaria Griffin three, Ford converted a steal into a layup at the other end to complete the surge.
"That's what she does," Landers said. "She has done that in about every game this season. She comes in and makes two or three great, outstanding played that always seem to impact the game."
Georgia's first-half lead topped out at 36-18 on a Barbee three at the 2:21 mark. The Lady Bulldogs entered the locker room at the intermission up 38-21, largely due to outscoring the Horned Frogs 18-8 in the paint and 17-5 off the bench.
The second half started much like a continuation of the first, with Georgia opening on a 7-2 run as the lead bulged to 22 before the Horned Frogs began their comeback.
The Lady Bulldogs will now enjoy a nine-day break from competition during the holidays. Georgia will return to action on Dec. 28 when the Lady Bulldogs take on Illinois in Champaign, Ill., in their final non-conference action of the regular season.
Georgia will open Southeastern Conference action on Thursday, Jan. 3, when it hosts Missouri in the Tigers' first-ever league game at 7 p.m. at Stegeman Coliseum.
LSU Takes Care of Grambling
BATON ROUGE - Danielle Ballard scored a game-high 21 points and tied an LSU freshman record for steals with seven as the Lady Tigers used a 15-0 late first-half run to pull away from Grambling by a score of 90-59 on Wednesday night in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
Senior guard Adrienne Webb added 19 points - 14 in the second half - and became the 30th player in school history to reach 1,000 points in a career. Webb needed seven points going into the game. Her first bucket in the second half put her at the mark, and she now stands at 1,012 points.
Ballard's steals tied for fifth overall in LSU single-game steal annals and it tied the freshman record held by Joyce Walker. Walker collected seven steals against Southeastern Louisiana on Feb. 12, 1981 during her freshman campaign.
The Lady Tigers (7-3) won their third in a row despite surrendering a season-high 9-of-21 from three-point range. Grambling (1-8), which dropped to 0-4 all-time against LSU, connected for seven threes in the first half and even tied the game at 30 apiece with 7:25 remaining in the first stanza.
"I thought we had some lazy play," said LSU head coach Nikki Caldwell. "I felt as though us not identifying the basketball early led to quick ball reversal. (Grambling) really did a great job of exploiting us and extending our defense. Around the seven-minute mark, we changed up the lineup and went with a guard lineup, which we felt could match up a little bit more."
Cierra Ceazer made back-to-back threes culminating at the 7:25 mark before the Lady Tigers countered with a decisive 15-0 run led by the quick play of Ballard. Ballard converted eight of the 15 points, including two lay-ups off her own steals. Grambling, meanwhile, went cold from the floor, going 7:23 without a made basket until a Tyler Anderson jumper with 0:02 left in the half.
"When she (Ballard) sees daylight, she's very aggressive to the basket," said Caldwell. "She typically converts in those scenarios. She did a great job of that for us tonight."
By then LSU took a 45-30 lead into halftime and never looked back. Webb became the newest member of the 1,000-point club on a mid-range jumper with 18:38 remaining in the game. It jump started an 8-0 Lady Tiger run.
LSU added another 14-0 run in a three-minute span in the final five minutes of the game. Webb took advantage of several Grambling turnovers and fired in eight straight points during the spurt. The Lady Tigers converted 26 turnovers into 35 points on the night.
Junior forward Theresa Plaisance reached double-figures for the ninth consecutive game with 18 points and a career-high five assists. Shanece McKinney turned in her third straight impressive start with another near double-double, finishing with eight points and nine rebounds.
The Lady Tigers shot a season-best 56.7 percent from the floor.
LSU closes a stretch of four games in eight days when McNeese State, the defending Southland Conference champions, comes to Baton Rouge for a Friday matinee. Tipoff is slated for 2 p.m.
Arkansas Picks Up Easy Win at Home
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – University of Arkansas senior Sarah Watkins became the 21st player in Razorback women’s basketball history to grab 500 career rebounds leading her team to a 99-42 win over Mississippi Valley State in Bud Walton Arena Wednesday.
Arkansas (10-1) also got a career-best night from senior Quistelle Williams with 18 points and five boards as the Razorbacks reached the 10-win mark before January for the third consecutive year.
Watkins grabbed her 500th rebound at the 5:53 mark of the second half becoming the 17th player in program history to score at least 1000 points and have 500 boards in her career.
“Big players are hard to find,” said Arkansas head coach Tom Collen, “and the fact that Sarah chose Arkansas means a lot. She continues to respond well to coming off the bench and I’m pleased that she was able to reach this milestone tonight.”
The Razorbacks wanted to come out with intensity and they did just that dominating the game from tip to buzzer. Arkansas opened the contest on a 9-2 run more than doubling up MVSU (3-6) in the early minutes and the Razorbacks established a tempo that the Devilettes could not match.
Williams had 10 of Arkansas’ 18 points in the first five minutes of the game helping the Razorbacks to an 18-7 lead at the first media timeout. Arkansas was 7-for-9 shooting 78 percent at the 14:40 mark of the first half.
The Razorbacks resumed the pressure after the first timeout jumping out with a 7-0 in under a minute as they continued to stretch the lead over MVSU. The run continued through the next media timeout growing to 15-0 in four minutes and Arkansas never looked back.
MVSU put together a bit of a run in the final two minutes as the Razorbacks weathered a 0-6 finish to the half, making the halftime lead to 29, 49-20. Williams finished the half with 14 points, three shy of her career-best. She was 6-for-6 to start the contest. It was the highest first-half point total of the season for the Razorbacks.
Arkansas’s second half started a bit slower than the first but the Razorback offense quickly found its rhythm and stretched the lead running away with a 57-point win over the Deviletts. The Razorbacks shot 55.4 percent for the game on 36-for-65 shooting. Arkansas dominated the boards, out-rebounding MVSU, 54-26.
In addition to Watkins and Williams, the balanced Razorback performance included 11 points from sophomore Calli Berna. The Fayetteville, Ark., native was 3-for-4 from the floor and 4-for-5 from the line with seven assists and two steals.
Sophomore Jhasmin Bowen added 10 points and six rebounds while Dominique Robinson and Keira Peak had nine points each for Arkansas.
The Razorbacks host Northwestern State in a 7 p.m. contest Friday in the final game before a four-day holiday break. Youth 17 and under will be admitted free in the general admission seating area.
For more information regarding Razorback women’s basketball or University of Arkansas athletics, please visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.