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    Today In SEC Women's Hoops: December 29

    WOMen's Basketball RESULTS
    McNeese State 80, Ole Miss 75
    Memphis 72, Missouri 69
    Auburn 80, Samford 51
    Vanderbilt 74, USC 56
    South Carolina 66, W. Carolina 44
    Alabama 80, Long Island 50
    Mississippi State 82, Troy 60


    McFarland Scores 20 Points As Rebels Fall To McNeese State

    NEW ORLEANS, La. – The Ole Miss women’s basketball team used a balanced scoring attack with three players scoring in double figures but it wasn’t enough as McNeese State beat Ole Miss 80-75 Saturday afternoon in the Tulane DoubleTree Classic.

    With the loss Ole Miss fell to 6-6 while McNeese State improved to 4-5. Ole Miss will play Eastern Michigan tomorrow at 1 p.m.

    Valencia McFarland recorded her 11th career 20-point game with a team-high 20 points. She also added eight assists in the game for her 31st career game with five or more assists, including seven games this year. Tia Faleru recorded her second career double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds.  

    Gracie Frizzell added 14 points for the Rebels, including four threes.  Kenyotta Jenkins added nine points and 11 rebounds as the Rebels outrebounded the Cowgirls 54-47.

    Ole Miss used an 8-2 run, including a pair of threes from Amber Singletary, to take a 20-12 lead over McNeese State with 11:29 left in the half. The Cowgirls took their first lead of the game with 8:17 to play as they went up 22-20.

    McNeese pushed its lead to six before a jumper from Faleru tied the game at 28-28 with 4:15 remaining in the half.

    The last three minutes of the first half featured five lead changes and one tie as the Rebels went into the half leading, 38-37. Faleru recorded 12 point and six rebounds in the first half while McFarland added eight points and three assists. The Rebels shot 38.1 percent (16-42) from the floor while the Cowgirls show 33.3 percent (12-36).

    Frizzell hit threes on back-to-back possessions for Ole Miss to start the second half as the Rebels went up 44-37, with just under a minute gone in the half.

    McNeese State led 63-54 with 8:35 to play but a three-point play from McFarland put Ole Miss up one, 64-63, with 5:44 remaining. With the game tied at 68-68 with under four minutes to play, the Cowgirls went up 75-68 with 2:18 to play.

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    Mizzou falls in Battle with Memphis

    Memphis, Tenn. - The Mizzou Women's Basketball team fell to Memphis on Sunday, Dec. 29 in a hard-fought battle in Memphis, Tenn. Mizzou will fall to 11-3 on the season, while Memphis improves to 7-5. Junior Bri Kulas led the Tigers with 23 points in the loss, earning her ninth consecutive double-figure scoring game this season. Crafton also put up double digits with 16 points and 12 rebounds, marking her third career double-double.

    The first half saw Memphis lead off on a 10-1 run, before sophomore Morgan Eye was able to hit her first three-pointer of the game. Eye hit 4-of-9 threes in the first half, and led the Tigers with 11 points in the first half. Trailing Memphis by 15 with just over six minutes left in the half, Mizzou went on a 6-0 run kicked off by two made free throws from Sydney Crafton. Liz Smith added a jumper, and Eye sunk a layup off of a Memphis turnover to reduce the Memphis lead to nine. In addition to her points from the charity stripe, Crafton made two baskets, capping of the first half going 2-for-4 from the field. Smith also finished the half 2-of-4.

    Doty hit a layup with eight seconds left in the first half, sending the Tigers into the locker room hungry for more. It worked, and Mizzou started the half on a 10-0 run, led off by a Crafton layup. Kulas hit two in a row to add to the Tiger run, and Smith scored at the 18:06 mark. Memphis' Nicole Dixon hit a three to put Memphis back in the game and put a stop to the Tigers' run. Coming out of the first media timeout, Kulas hit a jumper to keep the score at 44-40 in Memphis' favor. Crafton added another two to the Tigers' tally, and with 13:01 on the clock Kulas was awarded an and-one.

    Crafton made two from the charity stripe after the under-12 media timeout, but Memphis continued to answer the Tigers' buckets. Maddie Stock hit a big three for the Tigers immediately following the under-8 timeout. Memphis hit a jumper twenty seconds later, but Doty sunk a three to keep the score close. It was 59-57 with just over six minutes to play. Kulas made a free throw to bring the Tigers within one, but Memphis returned the favor. Maddie Stock made another from the distance with 5:13 on the clock, bringing Mizzou within one. Memphis stayed hot on the Tigers' trail, however, pulling away with a jumper and a free throw from Nicole Dickson.
     
    With a minute and a half to go, Kulas netted a three to bring Mizzou within just three points of Memphis. After a 30-second timeout, Crafton made a layup to reduce the lead to just one. After a Memphis timeout, a Memphis Tiger foul put Kulas on the line, and her made free throw tied the game at 69. Memphis' Nicole Dickson hit a jumper with 0.4 seconds on the clock, and also sunk a free throw to close the game at 72-69.

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    Auburn Caps Off Non-Conference Play With 80-51 Win Over Samford

    AUBURN – The Auburn women’s basketball team wrapped up non-conference play with an 80-51 win over Samford Saturday at Auburn Arena. The Tigers improved to 11-2, while Samford lost its fourth-straight and fell to 5-6.

    “We had a couple of kids who played extremely well,” Auburn head coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said. “I thought Najat Ouardad played well. I thought Hasina Muhammad and Blanche Alverson played well, and Tyrese Tanner is just really coming along playing the top of our press. She’s really getting a lot of the steals that are happening because she’s forcing them with her pressure up top.

    “I think one of the biggest things now in looking at our record at 11-2 is that we have to take this and everything that we’ve done into the tough SEC and get a little bit better at everything that we do.”

    Hasina Muhammad led Auburn with 19 points, while Blanche Alverson added 15, Najat Ouardad posted 14 and Tyrese Tanner tallied 11. It marked the sixth game this season in which the Tigers had four or more players in double figures, and the 11th game with three or more.

    Ouardad had a career day with a double-double with career highs of 14 points and 11 assists, as well as a career high nine steals. She is the fifth Tiger this season t tally a double-double, joining Blanche Alverson, Peyton Davis, Hasina Muhammad and Tra’cee Tanner.

    Alverson passed Charlene Thomas and Laticia Morris to move into 29th all-time in career scoring with 974 points. She is now eight points away from tying Diann McNeil for 28th all-time.

    With her 19 points, Muhammad continues to be the only player in the Southeastern Conference to have scored in double figures each game this season. She has posted double figures in 15-straight games dating back to the 2011-12 season.

    Auburn pulled out to a 13-5 lead on an 8-0 run early in the first half. The Tigers held Samford scoreless for almost five minutes, as Alverson and Ouardad each hit timely 3-pointers to give Auburn the lead.

    The Bulldogs scored eight unanswered to tie it at 13-all midway through the half, before a jumper from Hasina Muhammad and a steal and layup from Ouardad put Auburn back up by four.

    Auburn maintained possession and widened the lead with a couple of key offensive rebounds from Julie King. Samford again went scoreless for seven minutes, while the Tigers went on a 19-3 run to make it 32-16 with just 2:40 remaining in the half. Ouardad and Muhammad combined for 14 of Auburn’s 19 points during the run, and the Tigers took a 41-19 lead going into the locker room.

    Ouardad led Auburn by setting a new career high with 13 points, six assists and four steals in the opening half. Alverson added eight points in the opening 20 minutes, including six from beyond the arc, and moved into 30th all-time in career scoring.

    The Tigers continued applying pressure after the break, creating 15 turnovers resulting in 21 of Auburn’s 39 second-half points. Auburn increased its lead to as many as 31 points with 1:51 remaining and never allowed Samford within 17.

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    Foggie, Clarke lead VU over USC

    LOS ANGELES -- The Vanderbilt women's basketball team closed out non-conference play with a seven-game winning streak, defeating USC, 74-56, on Saturday, December 29, at the Galen Center. The Commodores improved to 10-3, while the Trojans fell to 3-8.

    As usual, Christina Foggie and Tiffany Clarke led the way. Foggie scored 28 points on 8-of-18 shooting and 7-of-11 from three. The seven three-pointers matched a career-high for the junior and were just one shy of the Vanderbilt record for threes in a game.

    Clarke recorded her third double-double in the last four games, scoring 24 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. The senior forward shot 10-21 from the field.

    Jasmine Lister joined the pair in double-figures. A native of nearby Corona, Calif., the junior guard scored 11 and dished out six assists, while grabbing three steals playing in front of several family members and friends.

    USC was led by 22 from Cassie Harberts. The forward scored 22 points and grabbed seven rebounds. Ariya Crook contributed 12 points for the Trojans, who have lost six-straight.

    After Vanderbilt worked to an eight-point lead midway through the first half, USC worked it to one before taking tying the game, 20-20, with 6:27 left in the period on a free throw by Harberts. Clarke responded with a basket to push the lead back to two.

    The teams traded baskets before the Trojans took their first lead, 25-22, on a three by Vaioletama with 5:24 to play. Harberts followed with a jumper to push the lead to 27-22. Scrhann hit a pair of free throws to cut the lead to three before Foggie drilled a three to even the score up at 27.

    The junior had a jumper to put the Commodores up 31-30, but Crook connected from three with three seconds left to put the Trojans up 33-31 at the break. The teams were close from the field, with USC shooting 46.2% and Vanderbilt shooting 45.5%. The squads were an identical 3-5 from three in the first period. Points off turnovers were a big advantage for the Trojans, as USC had 12 points off six turnovers, while Vanderbilt had just four points off nine USC miscues.
     
    The second period was a different story, as it was all Vanderbilt.

    VU opened the second half with a 19-6 run, taking a 50-39 lead. The Commodores built the lead mostly by securing the basketball, as Vanderbilt did not commit a turnover in the second period until there was just 7:25 left in the game.

    In the second half, Vanderbilt outscored the Trojans 43-23, to pick-up its first win of the season when trailing at the half (at Western Kentucky). Foggie and Clarke combined for 29 of Vanderbilt's points, while Lister added seven in the period.

    In addition to sound offense, the Commodores played solid defense in the frame, as well. They held the Trojans to 33.3% (10-30) shooting, while forcing eight turnovers and scoring seven points off those miscues.

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    No. 19/16 Gamecocks Handle Catamounts 66-44

    COLUMBIA, S.C. - No. 19/16 South Carolina closed out its non-conference schedule with a 66-44 win over Western Carolina Saturday night at Colonial Life Arena. Every Gamecock that played found the scoring column, led by freshman Tiffany Mitchell’s 12 points, as South Carolina shot a season-high 50.0 percent. Senior guard Ieasia Walker swiped five steals to become just the 13th Gamecock all-time to record over 200 in her career. Sophomore center Elem Ibiam tied her carer high with five blocked shots, matching the third-most in Colonial Life Arena history.

    The Gamecock offense was active early, helped by an aggressive defense that forced Western Carolina into 14 turnovers in just the first half. Freshman Tiffany Mitchell had her 3-point shooting going right out of the gate, hitting a pair in the first five minutes of the game as the Gamecocks opened a 12-4 lead. Her first provided the first points of the game and was quickly followed by a pull-up jumper from the right elbow by Sancheon White. After Alex Abraham got the Catamounts on the board, Ieasia Walker found Aleighsa Welch in traffic for a transition layup. Welch picked up a steal on the other end, which resulted in a Mitchell layup. Ali Lane hit a long jumper for Western Carolina that was originally ruled a 3-pointer but was later reversed. There was no doubt on Mitchell’s long-range strike off a pass from Welch after an offensive rebound, and the Gamecocks had a 12-4 lead just over five minutes into the game.

    With the Gamecocks up 19-6, the Catamounts put together a 7-2 surge as South Carolina went to its bench. Elem Ibiam put back a teammate’s missed shot to put the Gamecocks back up double-digits at 23-13 with 8:08 left in the half. From there, neither team could score for nearly the next four minutes until Khadijah Sessions hit a transition layup. From there, Ibiam took over in the paint, adding four more points to her eight-point half to send the Gamecocks into the locker room with a 29-18 halftime lead.

    The second half opened with a flurry for South Carolina. The Gamecocks gave up the first two points of the half, but proceeded to score 10 of the next 12 to stretch their lead to 39-23 just four minutes into the final period. Less than three minutes later, White kicked off three straight 3-pointers for the Gamecocks, and Wilka Montout added a jumper on a feed from Walker to extend the lead to 55-34. The Catamounts could not muster enough offense to close the gap in the final eight minutes of the game.

    South Carolina shot 60.0 percent in the second half en route to its season-high shooting percentage for the game. Four Gamecocks scored seven or more points as Walker narrowly missed double figures with nine points. Welch and Ibiam added eight each, and White and Sessions finished with seven apiece. Ibiam’s nine rebounds led the way on the glass, with five of those coming on the offensive end. Walker added four assists to her total effort tonight.

    “Ieasia [Walker] has been doing this for three years,” South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley said of her senior guard’s effort in the game and reaching her career milestone. “When I think about life after Ieasia Walker, I realize that we are really going to miss her quarterbacking our basketball team. She exhausts herself on both sides of the ball, and you couldn’t asks for a player to work as hard as she has worked. The good thing is that it isn’t just something that she does in games – it is how she practices. Her body is really conditioned to play that way. She is our leader and someone who is going to will us to some wins now that we are entering SEC play.”

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    Alabama Women’s Basketball Dominates LIU Brooklyn to win 80-58

    HONOLULU – The Alabama women’s basketball team earned an 80-58 win over LIU Brooklyn on Saturday during day two of the Bank of Hawai’i Rainbow Wahine Invitational. The victory gives the Crimson Tide a 9-3 overall record while the loss drops the Blackbirds to 3-7 on the season.

    “I thought we played smart and really played well together as a team today,” said Alabama head coach Wendell Hudson. “We were able to play a lot of different combinations and get everyone playing time. Overall, this was a great team win today.”

    Junior Shafontaye Myers led three Alabama players in double figures with 14 points. She was followed by seniors Celiscia Farmer and Alicia Mitcham, who chipped in 13 and 10, respectively. Farmer also led the Tide in rebounds with seven while sophomore Daisha Simmons recorded a game-high eight assists and two steals.

    The game went back and forth over the first four minutes until a 13-2 run by Alabama gave the Tide a 19-8 lead with 11:21 to go in the half. Alabama built a 25-point advantage, which was eventually cut to 13 behind 12 unanswered points from the Blackbirds. The Tide would close out the first on an 8-1 run over the final 2:22 to head into the locker room up 47-27 at the break.

    Alabama continued to distance itself from LIU in the second half, leading by as many as 28. The Tide played 13 of its 14 players in the game with its bench accounting for 93 minutes and 44 points.

    For the game, Alabama shot 44.1 percent (30-68) from the floor, including 51.4 percent (19-37) in the first half. The Tide held the Blackbirds to 27.9 percent (19-68) combined and only 10.0 percent (1-10) from three-point range. Alabama hit nine three-pointers in the game and scored on 11 of its 15 attempts from the free throw line. In addition, the Tide had one of its best games of the season sharing the ball as it recorded 18 assists.

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    ALWAL, WILLIAMS LEAD MISSISSIPPI STATE PAST TROY
     
    STARKVILLE, Miss. – Martha Alwal scored 21 points and Carnecia Williams added 20 as Mississippi State used a strong first half to close the non-conference slate with a convincing 82-60 win against Troy Saturday night at Humphrey Coliseum.
     
    Mississippi State (8-5) scored a season-high points total while limiting Troy (3-9) to its second-lowest output of the season.
     
    After a sluggish start on Friday night, the Bulldogs made a statement in the opening half and claimed a 48-27 halftime lead that it would not relinquish.
     
    “I think you have to be happy with the way we played tonight. It was certainly the best first 20 minutes we’ve played all year,” head coach Vic Schaefer said. “We came out and threw the first punch, the next punch and the next punch. We had some really good execution tonight, and I’m really pleased with the effort from our kids. I think we did well in the press tonight, and we rebounded about as well as we have all year.”
     
    Alwal scored 17 of her 21 points in the first half, and Darriel Gaynor added 12 of her career-best 15 points as the Bulldogs shot 48.6 percent from the floor for the opening stanza.
     
    “I’ve been in a shooting slump, so I had to make sure I wasn’t tense when shooting and focus on my follow-through. That helped me get into a shooting rhythm tonight,” Gaynor said of her 15-point night.
     
    With the game at four three minutes in, State claimed a lead that it would not relinquish as it out-scored the Trojans 20-6 over the following seven minutes.
     
    An Alwal bucket sparked the streak that included three of Gaynor’s four 3-pointers in the half. Jerica James capped it with a pair of free throws to put MSU in front by 14 at 24-10.
     
    Alwal converted an old-fashioned 3-point play to put MSU up 30-13 with 8:01 left, and she added a layup with 6:49 remaining to give the Bulldogs a 21-point advantage.
     
    “I tried to incorporate the mistakes from yesterday’s game into tonight’s game,” Alwal said. “Having back-to-back games was tough, but I tried to push through the fatigue.”
     
    After a Kourtney Coleman 3-pointer put Troy within 15 with 5:02 left, State used a 9-0 run to extend the lead to as much as 24 before taking a 21-point advantage to the locker room.
     
    Williams sparked the Bulldogs over the final 20 minutes, scoring 14 of her 20 points in the second half.
     
    “(Carnecia) has put back-to-back games together. We haven’t had a kids stack two games all year. You have to take your hat off to that kid,” Schaefer said of Williams’ performance. “She keeps getting dinged up on her knee and bounces back with a lot of toughness. She’s a great help defender and probably in the best shape of her life right now.”
     
    The Memphis native opened the half with six-straight points as the Bulldogs extended the halftime advantage to 54-27.
     
    The Trojans gained some momentum and cut the Dawgs’ lead to 16 with 11:17 to play, but Williams regained the edge for State, scoring eight-unanswered points to push the lead to 68-44 with 8:13 to go.
     
    Troy would get no closer than 21 the rest of the way as Mississippi State won its seventh-straight game at Humphrey Coliseum.
     
    Alwal and Williams both recorded double-doubles, adding 12 and 10 rebounds, respectively. It was the second-straight double-double and sixth of the season for Alwal as she scored 10 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in Friday night’s 65-49 win against Northwestern State.
     
    In the weekend’s back-to-back games, Williams combined for 36 points and 18 rebounds after she tallied 16 points and eight boards on Friday.
     
    Against Troy, the Bulldogs hit 31-of-69 shots for 44.9 percent. State was 5-of-15 (33.3 percent) from 3-point range while knocking down 75 percent of its free-throw attempts (15-of-20).
     
    State limited the Trojans to 37.9 percent from the floor, including a 21.4-percent tally from 3-point range, and claimed a 48-35 advantage on the boards.
     
    Mississippi State forced 25 turnovers, its third-most of the season, while committing 18. The Bulldogs dished out a season second-highest 18 assists.
     
    Kendra Grant finished the night with nine points for Mississippi State. Jessy Ward tied her season high with six, while Katia May and Sherise Williams added four points each.
     
    Sarah McAppion was the lone Troy player in double figures with 23.