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    Women's Basketball Weekly Notebook

    Alabama: Shafontaye Myers led four Alabama players in double figures with 19 points, but a big first half from Chattanooga helped the Lady Mocs hold on for the 82-70 win in women’s basketball action Friday night at McKenzie Arena. With the loss, the Crimson Tide starts its season 0-1, while the win puts Chattanooga at 1-0. Joining Myers in double-figure points for Alabama was Nikki Hegstetter with a career-high 16, Daisha Simmons, who had 15, and Ashley Williams, who contributed 10. Myers also notched a team-best six rebounds in addition to four assists. The Lady Mocs were led by Taylor Hall’s 24-point performance, while Faith Dupree collected the game’s lone double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds. For the game, the Lady Mocs shot 48.3 percent (29-60) from the floor and were 81.8 percent (18-22) from the free throw line. The Tide hit 46.9 percent (30-64) if its attempts in the game, including 62.5 percent (20-32) in the second half. Chattanooga edged out Alabama in rebounds, 36-34. Next up, the Tide heads to Nebraska to take on the 17th-ranked Cornhuskers on Monday, Nov. 11. Tipoff is slated for 7:05 p.m. CT.
    Arkansas: The @RazorbackWBB team opened the season with an 81-45 win over Sam Houston State in the season-opener last week.  The Razorbacks had three freshmen score in double figures in the win.  Jessica Jackson and Kelsey Brooks scored 17 each while McKenzie Adams had 16 in their collegiate debuts.  Junior Calli Berna set an Arkansas single-game record with 13 assists and she did not have a turnover in the game.  The Razorbacks host Oral Roberts Wednesday and Furrman Saturday in games two and three of a six-game home stand to open the year.
    Auburn: The Auburn women’s basketball team opened the 2013-14 season with a 69-59 win over Georgia Southern. With the win, Auburn moved to 35-8 all-time in season-openers and 22-3 when opening the season at home. Senior Tyrese Tanner led Auburn with 17 points and seven rebounds. With her 17 points, she moved into a tie for 30th all-time at Auburn in career scoring with 971 points. Fellow senior Peyton Davis notched her third career double-double in the game, totaling 15 points and 11 rebounds. Sophomore Tra’Cee Tanner added 14 points and eight rebounds. Freshman Katie Frerking was tapped for the starting lineup in the game and becomes the fifth Auburn freshman in the last 10 years to start in the season-opener. Auburn returns to the court with a pair of games this week, first hosting in-state rival Jacksonville State on Wednesday before traveling to Temple on Saturday for the team’s first road game.
    Florida: Florida plays its first two road games of the season this week, beginning with a trip to Blacksburg, Va., to play Virginia Tech on Thursday evening before playing at Kennesaw State on Sunday. The season-opening win was the first time in program history that Florida had seven players in double-figure scoring. UF followed that with five players in double-figures, paced by senior Jaterra Bonds’ career-high 25 points and a career-high-tying nine assists along with seven rebounds. Freshman Ronni Williams had a historic collegiate debut, leading the team with 15 points (on 7-of-9 shooting), 17 rebounds and 5 blocks, as she became just the second Gator freshman ever to record a double-double in her UF debut. Williams, who also blocked a game-high five shots, joined All-American and U.S. Olympian Tammy Jackson, who netted 13 points and 12 rebounds against Virginia on Nov. 20, 1981. Williams’ 17 rebounds are the most-ever by a player of any class in their Gator debut (was 13 boards by junior Courtney Cooper on Nov. 16, 2001, and sophomore Benita Locklear on Dec. 4, 1976). The Gators extended their non-conference home win streak to 17 games, tied for the fourth-longest streak in program history.
    Georgia: Georgia opened the season with a 45-30 victory over Presbyterian on Sunday. The Lady Bulldogs won their initial outing for the 12th time in the last 13 years. The lone setback during that span was to defending national champion Baylor in the opening game of the 2005-06 campaign. Georgia is now 30-5 in season openers under Andy Landers. Freshman Sydnei McCaskill started her collegiate debut. McCaskill is the 73rd freshman to start for the Lady Bulldogs during Andy Landers’ 35 seasons at UGA. Of those, she is the 23rd to start the season opener. Merritt Hempe led Georgia with a game-high 10 points. Hempe now has three double-figure scoring games in 31 career games played, with two of those three coming against Presbyterian. Senior Khaalidah Miller equaled three career highs in the victory. Miller matched her best-ever tallies for rebounds (11), assists (6) and minutes played (40). This week, the Lady Bulldogs host Mercer on Thursday and Ohio State on Sunday. Georgia is 18-12 all-time against Mercer, including a 17-1 mark during Andy Landers’ 35 seasons in Athens. Mercer is coached by former Lady Bulldog Susie Gardner. Gardner was a sharp-shooting guard who was a member of Georgia teams that finished as NCAA runner-up in 1983, also advanced to the 1983 Final Four and captured the 1983, 1984 and 1986 SEC Championships. The Lady Bulldogs own a 6-2 lead in their series with Ohio State, including a 1-1 record in Athens.
    Kentucky: No. 7/8 Kentucky opens its 40th season of varsity basketball at 2-0 with road wins over Marist and Wagner. In front of a raucous, sold-out crowd in Marist’s McCann Arena, the Wildcats overcame a slow start to win their season opener, 75-61.  Senior guard Kastine Evans recorded a team-high 15 points and eight rebounds, while senior forward Samarie Walker charted three steals and a game-high 11 rebounds. Point guards Janee Thompson and Jennifer O’Neill scored 13 and 11 points, respectively and junior guard Bria Goss added 10 points. Against first-time foe Wagner, the Wildcats again started out slow but used a 27-3 run in the first half to break open the game. UK cruised to a 96-57 win over the Seahawks paced by senior forward DeNesha Stallworth’s 22nd career double-double of 18 points and 13 rebounds. Goss followed with 17 points on 7-of-9 shooting and O’Neill contributed 11 points and five assists. All 12 players scored at least two points as Kentucky improved to 21-0 in the Matthew Mitchell era when scoring 90 points or more. The Wildcats begin a three-game homestand on Wednesday when they play host to Georgia Southern at 11 a.m. ET in Memorial Coliseum for their home opener and “Class of 2020 Day.”
    LSU: The 15th-ranked LSU women’s basketball team opened its season with a pair of wins in the preseason WNIT, defeating Stephen F. Austin, 86-58 in the first round and beating Saint Joseph’s 80-64 in the quarterfinals. The Lady Tigers will next likely face No. 5 Louisville on Thursday in the preseason WNIT semifinals. Junior guard DaShawn Harden, a Junior College All-American last season, was LSU’s leading scorer in the two games with 20 and 19 points, respectively. Harden combined to hit 7-of-16 threes in the two wins. Senior forward Theresa Plaisance was LSU’s leading rebounder in the two games as she averaged 16.5 points and 8.0 rebounds. Sophomore guard Danielle Ballard, a second-team All-SEC selection, has already accumulated 13 assists. As a team, the Lady Tigers combined for 35 assists in the two games. It’s the first time since the 2001-02 season that LSU has scored 80 or more points in consecutive games to open a season.    
    Ole Miss: Ole Miss opened the Matt Insell Era with a 83-62 win over Jacksonville State on Friday (Nov. 8). The win gave Insell,31, the youngest head coach in the SEC and the second youngest head coach in Division I his first career win… With 15 points and 13 points against Jacksonville State and Central Arkansas, Valencia McFarland extends her scoring streak to 89 games and has started 80 consecutive games … Ole Miss heads to Hawaii for the Rainbow Wahine Classic next weekend, where they will take on West Virginia, Hawai’i and Washington State. 
    Mississippi State: Mississippi State opened the second season under Vic Schaefer in impressive fashion, heading on the road and defeating Houston 76-68. It was the second-straight season the Bulldogs have opened the year with a win against the Cougars, and it was the 10th-straight season-opening for Mississippi State. It was also the first time MSU opened the year with a win on the road since an 86-65 win against New Orleans on Nov. 19, 1999. State was sparked by one of its heralded newcomers, as freshman Breanna Richardson scored 14 points to lead five Dawgs in double figures. Richardson’s 14 points were the most by a freshman in her debut since Robin Porter tallied 16 points against Southeastern Louisiana to start the 2005-06 season. Senior Katia May had a career outing, dishing out a personal-best 11 assists with no turnovers in 38 minutes. May’s assists tally tied for fifth-most in single-game school history and is the most by a Bulldog since Alexis Rack dished 12 against Savannah State in 2009. Sophomore Sherise Williams and junior newcomer Savannah Carter each came a rebound shy of a double-double. Williams scored 11 points to go along with nine boards, while Carter had 12 points and nine rebounds. Mississippi State opens the home slate this week, hosting Jackson State Wednesday and New Orleans on Sunday.
    Missouri: Mizzou Women’s Basketball opened the season down the road at Saint Louis University, topping the Billikens 74-59 to start the season 1-0. Newcomers Kayla McDowell and Jordan Frericks made major impacts on the night, both earning spots in the starting lineup.  McDowell posted her first career double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds. She was perfect from the free throw line, sinking seven of seven shots at the charity stripe.  Frericks fouled out of the game just one point short of a double-double as she finished with nine points and 11 rebounds for Mizzou. She dished out five assists, just two less than Sophomore Lianna Doty who led the team with seven on the night. Mizzou continued its success, winning its home opener against SIUE on Sunday, 59-48. Senior Bri Kulas led the Tigers with 16 points and six rebounds in the win, while sophomore Morgan Stock made 5-of-10 shots to put up a career-high 15 points. Sophomore point guard Lianna Doty dished eight assists on the day, contributing to Missouri’s second win of the season. The Tigers host the Evansville Purple Aces on Thursday, Nov. 14 in an evening competition honoring Columbia’s hometown heroes.   
    South Carolina: South Carolina opened the season 2-0 for the third-straight campaign, winning its first two games by an average of 46.5 points. The Gamecocks put their inside game on display early, scoring 108 of their combined 167 points in the paint. Their duo of 6-foot-4 centers combined for 60 points over the two-game weekend. South Carolina’s offensive outburst in the opener reset six Dawn Staley era records and included a pair of entries in the arena record books as well. The Gamecocks’ 99 points and 25 assists were the most in the Staley era, and their 60.9 field goal percentage was the second highest by a team in Colonial Life Arena history. Four Gamecocks averaged double figures over the weekend, led by freshman center Alaina Coates with 16.0 ppg. Junior forward Aleighsa Welch nearly averaged a double-double, turning in 14.5 points and 9.0 rebounds per game. Junior center Elem Ibiam asserted her defensive presence, tying her career-high with five blocks against Charleston Southern and adding another three against Louisiana Tech. Her game was most balanced against Charleston Southern as she hit 7-of-7 field goals, tying for the fourth-best perfect outing in Colonial Life Arena history. South Carolina has two home games on the schedule this week before opening a three-game road stretch that includes its rivalry game with Clemson and a pair of games on the West Coast the following week.
    Tennessee: The Lady Vols, ranked No. 4/4 in the preseason, came from 14 down in the first half and 12 behind at the break to defeat Middle Tennessee on the road on Nov. 8, 67-57. The Lady Vols scored 14-straight points after the intermission to win and improve to 36-4 in openers, including 6-0 in road contests. Tennessee put four players in double figures, including junior center Isabelle Harrison, who scored 13 points and grabbed seven rebounds despite playing only 17 minutes in a foul-plagued game. A total of 58 fouls were whistled on the two teams, including a school-record 33 vs. Tennessee. Junior point guard Ariel Massengale helped direct the comeback, scoring 12 points and kicking in five assists and four steals in 37 minutes of action. True freshman center Mercedes Russell recorded 11 points, seven rebounds and three steals, while redshirt freshman Andraya Carter tossed in 10. The Lady Vols play three games this week, starting with a nationally-televised tilt on ESPN2 with No. 12/11 North Carolina in Chapel Hill on Monday night and followed by home games vs. Chattanooga on Thursday and Georgia Tech on Sunday. The UNC game is part of the ESPN “College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon,” which takes place Nov. 11-12.
    Texas A&M: Texas A&M looks for its ninth straight NCAA Tournament appearance in 2013-14, coming off of a 25-10 season and an SEC Tournament Championship in 2012-13. Gary Blair, who is in his 11th season of the Aggies, has a young team with just two returning starters, after losing All-American Kelsey Bone to the WNBA Draft this summer. Courtney Walker, who averaged 10.4 points per game as a freshman, was named to the SEC All-Freshman team and is the Aggies’ top returning scorer. She is joined by fellow sophomore Courtney Williams, the other returning starter for Texas A&M, who averaged 6.0 points per game last season, but scored 11 points in each of the Aggies’ two NCAA Tournament contests. The team expects to receive veteran leadership from Karla Gilbert, who is one of two seniors remaining from Texas A&M’s National Championship team in 2011, and led the team in field goal percentage last season. Joining the Aggies in 2013-14 are Achiri Ade, a NJCAA All-American from Midland College, Jada Terry, ranked as the eighth best post player from the high school ranks this year and Tavarsha Scott, who transfers after leading Northwest Florida to the NJCAA Elite Eight.
    Vanderbilt: Vanderbilt opened its 2013-14 season Friday with a 96-53 win over Appalachian State. The Commodores were led by freshman Rebekah Dahlman’s 23 points. The 23 points were the most ever scored by a freshman in a debut, topping the previous record of 22 scored by Barbara Brackman on Nov. 20, 1981. Vanderbilt also got a career-best 19 points and 6 assists from Jasmine Jenkins. In total, five players scored in double figures for the Commodores. Vanderbilt has a busy week this week with the Commodores hosting three home games. Vanderbilt will play Western Kentucky Monday, Delaware State Thursday and Marquette Sunday.