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    SEC Women's Hoops Central - 2/28

    woMen's Basketball Results
    Florida 69,  Arkansas 58
    Tennessee 82,  Texas A&M 72
    Missouri 65,  South Carolina 58
    Kentucky 90,  Ole Miss 65
    Mississippi State 50,  Georgia 38
    LSU 76,  Alabama 42
    Auburn 59,  Vanderbilt 44


    Florida Defeats Arkansas At Home

    GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Jaterra Bonds (Gainesville, Fla.) scored a game-high 18 points and helped the Gators present their lone senior Jennifer George (Fresno, Calif.) a win in the final regular-season home game of her career, as Florida defeated Arkansas 69-58 on Thursday in the O'Connell Center.

    The visiting Razorbacks tied the game with 4:27 remaining in regulation, but UF closed out the game on a 14-3 run to clinch their second straight victory.

    Freshman Sydney Moss (Union, Ky.) also finished in double-figures, registering 14 points with seven rebounds and six assists.

    George recorded her ninth double-double of the season with 13 points and 11 rebounds, in addition to three assists, three blocks and two steals.

    "I am happy for so many reasons," head coach Amanda Butler said. "It seems to always come down to some big battle between us to settle up seeding and gain momentum for the next game and the SEC Tournament."

    The team finished 29-of-58 from the field, making exactly half of their shots. It marked the best shooting performance in nearly a month. Florida shot 58.3% from the field against Alabama on February 3.

    Tonight's game was Senior Night, marking the team's final game at the O'Connell Center for the 2012-13 regular season. UF's lone senior, George, certainly made it memorable and was later honored in a postgame ceremony.

    "Jennifer played like a senior, especially down the stretch and really anchored us in the paint and gave us confidence that whatever was going on, it was going to go Florida's way," Butler said. "That's what a senior does, especially in her last opportunity to play in front of her fans on her home court."

    Florida (17-12, 6-9 SEC) began the first half a perfect 3-for-3 on their first three attempts from the field. Two free throws from Bonds gave the Gators an 8-3 at the 15:49 mark of the opening frame.

    With 13:36 remaining in the first half, Arkansas' Dominique Wilson closed UF's lead to 11-8 following a three point field goal. Back-to-back buckets by Moss and Bonds gave the host team a 15-8 advantage with 13:05 left in the half.

    Over the ensuing minutes, the two teams would exchange baskets. That trend continued until the visiting Razorbacks went on a 4-0 run, cutting UF's lead to two points with 7:57 remaining.

    After a Moss lay-up, Arkansas (17-11, 5-10 SEC) was trailing by one point following a three pointer by Quistelle Williams. The teams exchanged baskets before a Bonds old-fashioned three-point play gave the Gators a 28-24 lead with 4:12 left in the frame. The Gainesville, Fla. native is 11-13 on the additional free throw on three-point plays this season.

    Florida closed out the half on an 8-0 run, including the Bonds' three-point play previously mentioned. Bonds had five of the eight final points of the period, while the senior George contributed three points on the run. The host team took a 33-24 lead heading into the locker room.

    As a team, the Gators made half of their shots from the field in the first half. It marked the team's best field goal percentage for the opening frame since UF shot 61.5% from the field against Alabama on February 3.

    Bonds recorded 13 points in the opening frame. The junior was able to record her team-leading 20th double-figure scoring game this season in just 20 minutes of play. In her final game at the O'Connell Center, George tallied seven points in the first half.

    A George basket to open the second half extended the Gators' run to 10-0. Eventually, a free throw by Arkansas' Sarah Watkins would break the UF scoring streak at the 17:42 mark. For a stretch of 7:15 the visiting Razorbacks were held scoreless.

    A Kayla Lewis (Decatur, Ga.) three-point play at the 15:00 mark of the second half gave the Gators a 40-28 lead. Arkansas would respond with a lay-up and a free throw on the next two possessions to cut the Florida lead to nine with 14:50 remaining. With shot clock expiring on the ensuing home possession, Bonds let one fly from beyond the arc to restore UF's 12-point lead.

    Once again, a Razorbacks lay-up would cut into the lead. A Carlie Needles (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) three-point bucket would extend the team's lead to 46-33 with 13:04 left in regulation.

    Following an Arkansas free throw, a Lewis lay-up and Moss free throw would give Florida a 49-34 lead with 11:46 remaining. It marked the team's largest lead of the game. In addition, it was UF's largest lead since they led Alabama by 34 points on February 3.

    The visiting Razorbacks would not give in though. Arkansas went on a 9-0 run over the next 2:22. Lewis would break the streak with a lay-up at the 9:13 mark. After a Razorbacks free throw, she would hit another one to give the host team a 53-44 edge with just over seven minutes remaining.

    Another Arkansas run would cut the UF hold to 53-51 with 5:14 left in regulation. A Bonds jumper from just outside the low block would break the streak and give the Gators a four-point lead with 4:53 left.

    In less than 30 seconds, Arkansas would tie up the game. A Watkins lay-up, Florida turnover, and Keira Peak lay-up would knot the score at 55-55 at the 4:27 mark.

    The Gators would not let the game stay tied for long. On the following possession, the rookie Moss hit a driving lay-up to give the home team a 57-55 lead with 3:55 remaining,

    Following a Christin Mercer (Douglasville, Ga.) steal on Arkansas' next possession, Florida's only senior, George, hit a jumper to put Florida back up four.

    Arkansas' Calli Berna would trim the deficit to three with a free throw. George would not be denied on her night. She hit another shot to put Florida up five. January Miller (Orlando, Fla.) would then sink a three-pointer with 1:37 left to give Florida a 64-56 advantage.

    After a missed shot by the visiting team, Moss would give the Gators a boost the old fashioned way. The rookie hit a lay-up, fouled, and made the ensuing free throw with 55 seconds left in the game.

    Arkansas' Watkins tipped one in to make it a 67-58 game, but Miller put the icing on the cake for the Gators. UF would break an Arkansas press the next possession and Miller sank a fast break lay-up with 29 seconds remaining.

    Tennessee Beats A&M, 82-72 - Lady Vols Clinch Regular Season SEC Championship

    KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- #8 Tennessee secured the outright regular-season SEC championship with an 82-72 victory over #13/15 Texas A&M on Thursday night before 12,213 at Thompson-Boling Arena. The Lady Vols claimed their 17th SEC regular-season crown overall. Senior Kamiko Williams scored a career-high 18 points and classmate Taber Spani scored eight as the duo won their third SEC regular-season crown.

    The Lady Vols (23-5 overall, 14-1 SEC) have won 18 of their last 19 games against conference foes dating to last season. That includes a perfect 8-0 mark at home in the SEC contests this year.

    First-year head coach Holly Warlick became the second coach in SEC history to win the regular-season title in her first year as a head coach in the league, joining Pokey Chatman, who won it at LSU in 2005.

    Tennessee will be the No. 1 seed in the SEC Tournament which starts on March 6 in Duluth, Ga. The Lady Vols will play the winner of the 8/9 game in the first game of the Third Round on Friday, March 8 at 12 Noon.

    Texas A&M, which had won 21 of their last 25 games, fell to 21-8 overall and 11-4 in the SEC.

    Meighan Simmons netted 17 for her 17th game in a row in double-figures. Cierra Burdick had her fourth double of the season and second in three games with 15 points and a career-high 14 rebounds.

    Freshman Bashaara Graves tallied 14 points for her 25th game this season with 10 or more points.

    Playing her first home game in a month, Isabelle Harrison returned with 10 points -- all in the second half for UT's fifth player in double-figures. After missing close to a month with an injury, Harrison was hurt late in the action and missed the final 1:52.

    Texas A&M was led by Adrienne Pratcher, who scored a game-high 20. Leading scorer and rebounder Kelsey Bone was limited to 14 points and five rebounds.

    Keyed by a 12-2 run just prior to halftime, the Lady Vols never relinquished the lead in the second half. A 13-2 run by the Lady Vols expanded the lead to 66-52 on a Burdick jumper with nine minutes left in the half.

    Texas A&M continued to threaten, but the Lady Vols took the Aggie punches and stood strong.

    Down by as many as 14, Pratcher scored eight points in a row to bring the Aggies back within four with 7:45 remaining.

    But the Lady Vols wouldn't be deterred, after another Pratcher bucket cut the deficit to three, 67-64, Tennessee ripped off seven points in 51 seconds to regain a double-figure lead at 74-64 with 5:52 left.

    UT's lead was cut to four with 3:50 left, but again, Tennessee withstood as Williams put the final dagger in the Aggies on a jumper with 10 seconds left for the final of 82-72. UT had the game's final six points.

    Tennessee finished the first half on that 12-2 run capped by a 3-pointer from Williams at the buzzer to take a 37-32 into intermission. That marked the largest lead of the half for the Lady Vols. The lead changed hands seven times and the game was tied six times in the first 20 minutes.

    Neither team led by more than four points for the game's first 17 minutes. A pair of free throws by A&M's Karla Gilbert put the Aggies up by five at 30-28.

    But that was answered with a 3-pointer from Simmons with 2:22 left in the half, cutting the margin back to two, 30-28.
    After being down by five, the Lady Vols reeled off the next nine points to take a 34-30 lead with less than a minute left in the half. Simoins had seven of the nine points.

    Tennessee suffered a blow as Ariel Massengale went down with an apparent injury and did play the final 7:44 of the game. Harrison also went down with an injury with 1:52 left in regulation.

    LSU Extends Win Streak

    BATON ROUGE -- LSU seniors Adrienne Webb and Bianca Lutley combined for 33 points in their final regular season home game and the Lady Tigers extended their season-best winning streak to five straight with a 76-42 blowout of Alabama on Thursday night in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

    LSU (18-10, 9-6 SEC) jumped out to a 13-0 lead and never looked back. The Lady Tigers maintained their sixth-place position in the Southeastern Conference standings as Vanderbilt was a winner over Auburn on Thursday.

    An LSU win at Texas A&M on Sunday or a Vanderbilt loss to Georgia would give the Lady Tigers the No. 6 seed in next week’s SEC Tournament in Duluth, Ga. The No. 6 seed plays the No. 11 seed at 7:30 p.m. CT Thursday. LSU’s regular season finale at Texas A&M is slated for a 1 p.m. CT tip on the SEC Network (channel 16 in Baton Rouge).

    “Adrienne Webb and Bianca Lutley are our two seniors,” said LSU head coach Nikki Caldwell. “I remember after the Tennessee game, the kids were very upset and Jeanne Kenney spoke up. She basically said, ‘From here on out, from this game forward, I’m going to do everything I can for Webb and Lutley to go out as big as possible.’ Since then, our team has done just that. That’s what those two mean to our team. I’m really proud of our team for playing as hard as they did tonight and staying focused.”
    Webb scored a game-high 21 points and buried a career-best 10-of-10 from the free throw line as LSU as a team converted 26-of-31 from the stripe. That is the second-highest total by an SEC team in a league game this season. Lutley accounted for 12 points and six boards in her final regular season home game. However, LSU is expected to earn a berth to the NCAA Tournament, which it hosts on March 24 and 26.

    Theresa Plaisance and Danielle Ballard both finished with double-doubles. Plaisance had 13 points and 12 boards, while Ballard put in 14 points with 10 rebounds and five steals. Ballard shattered the LSU freshman single-season record for steals, eclipsing Joyce Walker’s mark of 86 set in 1980-81. Ballard is now up to 87 steals, fourth in LSU overall single-season history and just six away from tying Marie Ferdinand’s school record of 93 in 1999-2000.

    Alabama (9-19, 2-13) dropped its ninth consecutive game and lost to LSU for the 16th straight time. The Tide is winless in Baton Rouge since Feb. 3, 1998.

    Fittingly, Webb got the scoring going for LSU with a three from the right corner in the opening seconds. Plaisance followed with an old-fashioned three-point play. After three free throws, Webb hit a mid-range jumper and Ballard swished a shot from the left wing as LSU jumped out to a 13-0 advantage with 15:52 remaining in the first half. The Tide, meanwhile, missed its first nine shots before finally getting on the board.  

    The Lady Tigers led by 20 at the break, 39-19. Webb continued to work her way to the free throw line early in the second half, draining six consecutive free throws. Plaisance and Derreyal Youngblood added lay-ups as LSU poured it on, up 57-25 with 14:16 to go.

    Both Lutley and Webb were lifted from the game in the final minute to a standing ovation.

    “Coach Nikki kept telling us that we just came off a big win, but we can’t take Alabama lightly,” said Lutley. “We can’t have a big upset and allow Alabama to come out and beat us. All of us had the mindset to come out tonight and get the win and that is what we did.”
    “You always want to go out with a bang,” added Webb. “It just so happened that we went out with a really big bang on our senior night. This won’t be the last night that we play in the PMAC. We hope to have two more games here.”

    For the eighth consecutive game, LSU dominated the boards, out-rebounding the Tide, 58-35. The Lady Tigers converted 21 second-chance points and accounted for 21 points off 18 Alabama turnovers.

    Kentucky Wins Big In Oxford

    OXFORD, Miss. — The Ole Miss women’s basketball team fell to No. 10 Kentucky 90-65 Thursday night in the team’s final home game of the year.

    With the loss Ole Miss fell to 9-19 overall (2-13 SEC) while No. 10 Kentucky improved to (24-4, 12-3 SEC).

    As a team, Ole Miss shot 37.3 percent (22-59) from the floor while Kentucky shot 40.5 percent (34-84).

    Kentucky used a 13-0 run to push its lead to 21-6 with 10:00 left in the first half. The Wildcats extended its lead to 37-18 at the half.

    Ole Miss shot 22.6 percent (7-31) from the floor in the first half while Kentucky shot 38.6 percent (17-44). The Wildcats held a 35-17 advantage in rebounding.

    In the second half, the Wildcats pushed its lead to 51-31 with 11:59 left to play.

    Mizzou Knocks Off Carolina

    COLUMBIA, Mo. - Bri Kulas had 26 points and 12 rebounds as Missouri knocked off No. 14 South Carolina 65-58 Thursday night.

    Sydney Crafton added 11 points and Liene Priede had 10 for the Tigers (16-13, 5-10 Southeastern), who are 14-4 at home this season.

    Ieasia Walker and Khadijah Sessions led South Carolina (22-6, 10-5) with 14 points apiece.

    Missouri, which has made a school-record 240 3-pointers this season, beat the Gamecocks the old-fashioned way - by pounding the ball inside. The Tigers outscored South Carolina 34-14 on points in the paint and attempted just seven 3-pointers, making three.

    Missouri shot 53.5 percent and never trailed in a game that was close throughout. Its biggest lead was eight points when Kulas converted a three-point play with 52 seconds remaining.

    The Tiger lead stretched to eight before the Gamecocks scored on back-to-back possessions to draw within four at 62-58, but with just 23 seconds remaining, the Tigers iced their second victory over a nationally ranked team this season.

    Balcomb Sets Wins Mark

    NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Vanderbilt Head Coach Melanie Balcomb became the school's all-time leader in career wins Thursday as the Commodores defeated Auburn, 59-44, on Senior Night Thursday at Memorial Gymnasium.

    With the win, Vanderbilt improved its win streak over Auburn to 20 games and moved to 19-9 overall and 9-6 in the SEC. Auburn dropped to 15-13 on the season and 4-11 in the league.

    The win was Balcomb's 257th in 11 seasons at Vanderbilt, surpassing the previous school record held by Jim Foster.

    Vanderbilt led 27-18 at the half, but the Commodores were unable to shake free of the Tigers for much of the second half. Auburn pulled within three, 38-35, with 10:07 to play, but that would be as close as it would get. Vanderbilt would go on and extend its lead to 12 with 3:13 to play.

    Vanderbilt was led by senior forward Tiffany Clarke, who finished with 22 points and 14 rebounds. Junior point guard Jasmine Lister added 20 points.

    Before the game, Clarke along with fellow seniors Elan Brown and Gabby Smith were recognized at center court for Senior Night.


    Mississippi State Shocks Georgia

    STARKVILLE, Miss. – Mississippi State sent its lone senior Darriel Gaynor out on a high note Thursday night in the Humphrey Coliseum.
    Holding No. 11 Georgia to 18.2 percent shooting, MSU led from start to finish in pulling a 50-38 Southeastern Conference upset in the Humphrey Coliseum.
    “What a way to send Darriel out on a high note,” MSU head coach Vic Schaefer said. “I am so proud of these players and coaches. You could see the flame of the Lord through them tonight. That was an incredible effort. To know how hard these players have worked and how much adversity they have had to overcome, I could not be more proud to be their coach.”
    Playing in front of her family, Gaynor sparked MSU with 11 points. Sophomore Kendra Grant scored 13 points, and Martha Alwal recorded her 15th double-double with 12 points and 14 rebounds.
    “It means everything to me. This year alone has been record-breaking,” Gaynor said. “Since I’ve been here, we’ve never beaten Arkansas, never beaten Missouri and never won on senior night. I’m so happy and so proud of my team. They did this for me. The whole time they kept telling me to keep shooting and kept encouraging me. This is my No. 1 memory from Mississippi State.”
    MSU knocked off Georgia for an eighth time in the Humphrey Coliseum. The home-standing Bulldogs snapped a three-game losing streak in the series. MSU knocked off a ranked opponent for the first time since defeating eighth-ranked Ohio State in the 2010 NCAA tournament.
    The Maroon and White defense held Georgia to the lowest point total in the 39 games between lone pair of Bulldogs in the league.
    With the victory, MSU improved to 13-15 overall and 5-10 in league play, while Georgia fell to 23-5 and 11-4.
    “We held Georgia to five field goals in the second half,” Schaefer said. “Think about that. That is what I am all about. I want to play the type of defense that you have to bleed to score. We held the No. 11 team in the nation to 18 percent shooting and five field goals in the second half.
    “With the game on the line in the second half, we got stop after stop after stop.”
    MSU started on the attack from the opening tip. The Maroon and White scored the game’s first 10 points as 3-pointer by Grant gave MSU a 10-0 advantage with 17:25 left before halftime.
    The Maroon and White kept the early pressure going and stretched the lead to 24-9 on an Alwal jumper with 7:43 left. From there, MSU did not score the rest of the way and Georgia drew within 24-22 at halftime.
    “We wanted to come out and throw the first punch,” Schaefer said. “Martha was really a monster there in the first half, especially the first 10 minutes. We don’t win the game without her playing that way. We knew Georgia would make a run. A well-coached team with good players will do that.
    “To be able to stop their run and hold on says a lot about this team.”
    MSU built a 27-22 lead early in the second half on a 3-point play by Carnecia Williams. The lead was pushed back to eight at 33-25 on a Jerica James 3-point basket with 13:54 left.
    Georgia closed within 35-33 but could never get on the hump. UGA was held to two field goals over the final 6:27. James hit a key 3-point basket for a 38-33 lead and the home team hit free throws the rest of the way to close out the win.
    For the contest, MSU hit 15 of 48 shots from the field (31.3 percent), 6 of 18 shots from 3-point range (33.3 percent) and 14 of 17 shots from the free throw line (82.4 percent). Georgia hit 10 of 55 shots from the field (18.2 percent), 2 of 22 shots from 3-point range (9.1 percent) and 16 of 24 shots from the foul line (66.7 percent).
    The teams were even at 42 in rebounds. MSU had nine assists and 18 turnovers, while Georgia had four assists and 16 turnovers.
    Anne Marie Armstrong posted a double-double for Georgia with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Jasmine Hassell also pulled down a game-high 12 rebounds.