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    SEC Women's Basketball Today: Friday, December 20

    Women's Basketball RESULTS
    South Carolina 69, Winthrop 61
    Arkansas 79, Tennessee Tech 53
    N.C. State 89, LSU 79
    Florida 86, Tennessee State 56
    Alabama 113, Troy 105
    Mississippi State 109, SE Louisiana 57

     

    South Carolina Holds Off Winthrop, 69-61

    COLUMBIA, S.C. – No. 10/10 South Carolina (10-1) defeated Winthrop (6-3) 69-61 Friday afternoon in non-conference action at Colonial Life Arena. The Gamecocks led by as many as 19 in the game, but the Eagles fought back, with South Carolina sophomore Tiffany Mitchell’s 20 points holding off their upset bid.

    “I’m pleased with getting the win. There are opportunities for us to continue to learn. I thought having to play without our starting point guard, we held on and did some good things down the stretch,” South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley said. “Obviously, the free throw situation didn’t help our cause. I think we could have pulled away a little bit more if we had hit some free throws down the stretch. But, I thought we did a great job of just making (Dequesha) McClanahan work for 37 minutes. I thought we did our jobs on that part.”

    Whenever Winthrop started to gain momentum Mitchell seemingly had an answer, adding seven assists to her game-high point total. Redshirt freshman guard Tiffany Davis earned the first starting nod of her career in place of injured sophomore guard Khadijah Sessions, and battled the way Staley hoped she would in her debut.

    The Gamecocks came out firing on all cylinders, scoring the first 14 points. Sophomore guard Asia Dozier was a force to be reckoned with in the early stages of the game, combining with junior center Elem Ibiam to score the first 11 points of the afternoon. Dozier scored five and assisted on two of Ibiam’s three baskets in the stretch.  

    After nearly five scoreless minutes, Winthrop senior guard Dequesha McClanahan scored the first of her 19 points on a 3-pointer to get the Eagles on the board.

    South Carolina stretched its lead to 19 at the 7:30 mark thanks to three 3-point shots from Davis, Mitchell and Dozier and seemed to have a stranglehold on the game.
     
    At the end of the half, Mitchell was perfect from the field sinking all three of her attempts including two from behind the arc, for eight points. Dozier and Ibiam also tallied eight apiece.

    The Gamecocks scored the first four points of the second half with aggressive post play by Ibiam and Welch to extend the lead to 41-23, but the Eagles continued to battle. Winthrop scored six-straight points on fast break opportunities, cutting the lead to 41-29 with 17:30 to play.

    Suddenly, South Carolina struggled to find rhythm. McClanahan and the Eagles took advantage and began to find their groove. Winthrop held the Gamecocks scoreless for nearly three minutes and rattled off a 12-2 run to battle back. A trio of baskets from Eagle freshman guard Erica Williams in the run made the score 55-50 with 8:46 to go.

    A huge block from Welch helped slow down the Eagles, but they continued to chip away at the South Carolina advantage. Three times in the final seven minutes, Winthrop pulled within striking distance, whittling the deficit to four points. Each time, Mitchell or Dozier was there to stave off the surge.

    Dozier sank a pair of free throws with three minutes remaining to push the lead back to six. Shortly after, McClanahan fouled out on a charge under the basket, and South Carolina went on to clinch the 69-61 win.

    The Gamecocks shot 50.0 percent from the field, hitting 24-of-48 shots and recorded assists on 17 of their 24 made baskets. In addition to Mitchell’s 20-point game, Welch, Dozier and Ibiam hit double digits. Welch tallied 14 points and eight rebounds, Dozier added 13 points and five assists and Ibiam narrowly missed a double-double, contributing 12 points and nine boards.  

    McClanahan and Williams finished the day with 19 points a piece for Winthrop. McClanahan recorded eight assists as well. Sophomore forward Schaquilla Nunn brought down a game-high 10 rebounds.

    The Gamecocks return to Colonial Life Arena for a 1 p.m., game against SC State on Sun., Dec. 22, with live coverage on Fox Sports South. Stay connected to Gamecocksonline.com for more details.
     



    Three-Point Barrage Improves Razorbacks To 12-0

    FAYETTEVILLE – McKenzie Adams led a three-point barrage and Jessica Jackson added in a double-double for good measure, as the University of Arkansas women's basketball team (12-0) earned a 79-53 win over Tennessee Tech (3-8) inside Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville, Ark., on Friday night.

    Finishing 6-for-8 from three-point range, Adams tied for a game-high 18 points and led 58.8 percent shooting from beyond the arc for the Razorbacks. Fellow freshman Jackson also scored 18 points and reached double-digit scoring for the 11th time in 12 games this season, adding 11 rebounds for the first double-double of her career and third of the season for Arkansas.

    “She can make shots and she did another great job tonight,” head coach Tom Collen said of Adams. “Also, I thought Jess had one of her best games. We really challenged her and I thought that her effort level really went up in the second half. We saw the results.”

    Fresh off a career-high 22 points in the team’s last win over Tulsa, Adams got right back to it and ignited the Razorbacks early against TTU, connecting on three straight three-point baskets to lead all scorers with an early nine points. Arkansas shot 64 percent from the field over the first six and half minutes to build an 18-14 lead by the 13:29 mark.

    Opening the game 3-for-3 from beyond the arc, Adams improved to 15-for-20 from three-point range over her last three games. Other Razorbacks joined in on the three-point barrage, as Jackson, Joey Bailey and Kelsey Brooks added one each from distance to help pace early 67 percent three-point shooting for a 25-16 lead by the 10:40 mark of the first half.

    With seven three-pointers in the first half, UA finished one shy of tying a program record.

    Both teams maintained hot shooting throughout the first half, as the Golden Eagles continued to hang around and trade baskets with the Razorbacks. While UA held a 30-20 lead with 8:13 to play in the half, TTU upheld 53 percent shooting and kept the game competitive. The Golden Eagles outscored the Razorbacks 12-to-4 on points in the paint in the first half.

    With seven different Razorbacks registering points, the bench of Arkansas helped maintain the team’s lead. UA’s bench outscored the reserves of TTU 16-to-2 in the first half, as Brooks led the way with seven points on 3-for-3 shooting.

    Jackson got going offensively midway through the first half and led all scorers at halftime with 10 points, helping UA to a 42-29 lead at the break. The freshman reached double-digit scoring for the 11th time in 12 games on the season.

    The Razorbacks got the second half off to the exact same start as they had opened the game in the first half, as Adams hit back-to-back three-pointers and quickly bumped her total to 15 points (5-6 3PT) and UA’s lead to 48-32. As a group, UA was shooting 77 percent (10-13) from beyond the arc at the 16:20 mark.

    Jackson took over late in the second half, converting a pair of and-1 plays and scoring eight points over a four minute stretch late in the second half to finish at 18 on the night. The Jacksonville, Ark., native finished shooting 63.6 percent (7-11 FG) from the floor, also adding in a pair of blocks, steals and assists.

    Arkansas breaks for the holidays, but returns to the court Dec. 28 to close out its non-conference schedule by hosting

    Mississippi Valley State at Bud Walton Arena. Opening tip is scheduled for 2 p.m.

    For more information on Arkansas women’s basketball, follow @RazorbackWBB on Twitter.
     




    N.C. State Snaps No. 12 LSU's Winning Streak, 89-79

    RALEIGH, N.C. – NC State’s low-post combination of Markeisha Gatling and Kody Burke combined for 50 points on 20-of-28 shooting as the 12th-ranked LSU women’s basketball team saw its winning streak end at seven games with an 89-79 loss to the Wolfpack on Friday night in Reynolds Coliseum.

    The Lady Tigers (9-2) lost for the first time in over a month since Nov. 14 at Louisville. NC State (11-1) extended its winning streak to five straight in what was the first ever meeting between the two teams in Raleigh.

    “We did not have our best night defensively,” said LSU head coach Nikki Caldwell. “(Markeisha) Gatling and (Kody) Burke really exploited us and were dominant in the paint. We had an opportunity to cut into the lead but we kept swapping baskets. We had to get stops. We couldn’t get anything working in our favor defensively.”

    Senior forward Theresa Plaisance led LSU with 18 points, while senior guard Jeanne Kenney finished with a season-high 17 points to go along with five assists and four steals. Freshman guard Rina Hill poured in a season-best 15 points on an efficient 7-of-8 shooting.

    NC State’s post attack dominated the Lady Tigers for 40 paint points and 19 second-chance points. Gatling, who entered the game in the top five nationally in field goal percentage, was 11-of-13 for 25 points and eight rebounds. When she fell into foul trouble and picked up her fourth with 9:47 remaining, it was Burke who stepped up, finishing with 25 points.

    LSU was an uncharacteristic 13-of-24 from the free throw line and it trailed for most of the game. Danielle Ballard’s jumper with 8:54 left in the first half gave the Lady Tigers their final lead, 24-21, before the Wolfpack went on a 13-1 run to take control into halftime.

    On at least three occasions in the second half, LSU came within five points but it could never get the deficit to one possession. The Lady Tigers’ best chance came when Gatling went to the bench. Shanece McKinney and Plaisance converted layups to pull LSU within 64-59, but Burke answered with two of her own.

    The backbreaker came on back-to-back threes from Len’Nique Brown and Burke with 4:46 to play that pushed the NC State lead back to double-digits.

    NC State shot 52.5 percent from the floor to LSU’s 49.2 percent.

    “We have to be better defensively,” said Caldwell. “We can’t go on the road and give up that many points because our lack of intensity. We are going to take ownership of it. We are going to have to dial up our intensity in defensive drills.”

    The Lady Tigers break for the holidays and will return to practice on the night of Dec. 26 in preparation for a Dec. 30 game at home against Jackson State. It will be LSU’s final non-conference tune-up prior to the start of Southeastern Conference play at Tennessee on Jan. 2.
     




    Florida Defeats Tennessee State, Marches Into Gator Holiday Classic Championship Game

    GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Kayla Lewis (Decatur, Ga.) and Christin Mercer (Douglasville, Ga.) both charted double-doubles and Florida defeated Tennessee State, 86-56, in the first round of the 23rd Annual Gator Holiday Classic played at the O'Connell Center Friday evening.

    The Gators will play FIU in the championship game on Saturday at 7 p.m. The Panthers defeated La Salle, 84-58, in their opening round game, as senior guard Jerica Coley, who led the nation in scoring last year, dropped in 33 points in Friday's victory. The Lady Tigers and Explorers will meet in the third-place game at 4:30 p.m.

    Florida opened up the 2013 Gator Holiday Classic with a physical 86-56 victory over Tennessee State as Kayla Lewis led the Gators from the opening tip, registering her second consecutive double-double in 24 minutes of play.

    Lewis tallied 19 points on a career-tying 9-11 shooting and 13 rebounds, with 13 points and 12 rebounds coming in the first half alone as she needed just 24 minutes to register her second consecutive double-double. The junior left the game with 9:18 to play after falling hard when she was fouled skiing for a defensive rebound, but with Florida's significant second-half lead she was not needed to reenter the contest.

    Florida opened the game on a 15-2 run that saw baskets from six different Gators. Florida's first-half lead reached 20 before heading to the locker room up 43-29. Behind a strong second-half effort from Mercer and Cassie Peoples (San Antonio, Texas) after Lewis went down, the Gators outscored the Lady Tigers 43-27 in the second half.

    Mercer enjoyed a career night off the bench, tying her career high with 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Mercer's performance was her second double-double of the season and third of her career. Peoples chipped in 16 points and five assists and Carlie Needles (Highlands Ranch, Col.) added 10 points off the bench.

    The Gators shot 50 percent from the field, improving to 7-1 on the year when hitting at least 40 percent. UF also improved to 9-0 when topping 70 points.

    For the eighth time of the season, every Gator that dressed out scored. Florida is now 3-0 all-time against Tennessee State. UF has won seven consecutive games in the Gator Holiday Classic and will go for its fourth consecutive GHC crown.
     




    Alabama Women’s Basketball Erupts for 113-105 Overtime Victory over Troy

    TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Alabama’s Daisha Simmons and Shafontaye Myers combined for 71 points to lift the Crimson Tide women’s basketball team to a 113-105 overtime victory over Troy on Friday at Foster Auditorium. Simmons also added 11 rebounds and 11 assists, becoming the first UA player to record a triple-double since 1995.

    With the win Alabama improves to 6-5 on the season, while the loss drops the Trojans to 4-6.

    Simmons finished with a career-high 37 in the game, marking the most points scored by a junior in program history and the second-highest in a single game all-time. Myers’ 34-point performance was also a career-high, and her six three-pointers moved her into seventh in the Alabama record book for career threes with 163. Ashley Williams also played a key role, notching her first double-double with 22 points and 11 rebounds, while Brittany Jack had 12 points and four rebounds off the bench. Ashley Beverly-Kelley led the way for the Trojans, scoring 33 points.

    The game featured a series of runs from both benches, as was evident in the 15 ties and 15 lead changes throughout the contest. Troy led for most of the first half, using a 15-3 run to pull ahead, 31-18, with 8:19 to go. From there, Alabama countered with an 18-4 run of its own to jump in front, 36-35, at the 3:10 mark. The Tide would head into the locker room with a 42-41 edge, thanks to a jumper from Williams with 49 seconds left on the clock.

    After a back-and-forth affair over the opening five minutes of the second half, the Trojans scored seven unanswered points to lead, 66-60, with 11:38 to play. Troy held onto the lead until Simmons jacked up a three-pointer five minutes later to give Alabama the lead back, 75-74. The Trojans would not go away, however, and held a three-point lead with 16 seconds to go. The Tide inbounded the ball and quickly drove up the court to find Myers, who did what she does best, knocking down the three with nine seconds left to even the score at 92. Troy would fail to hit its last attempt, sending the game into overtime.

    Alabama got out to a quick start in the bonus period, scoring the first seven points, which forced the Trojans to take a timeout. Troy was able to pull within one, but would get no closer, as the Tide outscored the Trojans 14-7 down the stretch.

    Alabama had one of its best outings on the boards, pulling down 63 rebounds, compared to Troy’s 43. The Tide was also 30-47 from the free throw line and had 17 assists on its 37 made baskets.

    The 113 points was the most scored by the Tide since its historic four-overtime victory over Duke in the 1995 NCAA Championship Tournament, and the eighth most in a game in Tide history.

    Alabama will now break for the holidays before heading to Charlottesville, Va., for the Cavalier Classic, Dec. 28-29. The Tide will first take on the Princeton Tigers at 11 a.m. CT on Dec. 28 and will then face either Coppin State or Virginia on Dec. 29.

    Get all the latest information on the team by following AlabamaWBB on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. General athletic news can also be found at UA_Athletics on Twitter and Instagram and Alabama Athletics on Facebook.

     




    Alwal's Double-Double Leads MSU Past SE Louisiana, 109-57

    STARKVILLE, Miss. – Mississippi State topped the 100-point mark for the second time this season with a 109-57 win over Southeastern Louisiana in a women’s basketball game played Friday night at Humphrey Coliseum.

    “(Our offensive production) comes from how we practice,” MSU junior guard Kendra Grant said. “We have a lot of different options now. Lucky for us, everybody on the team can produce.”

    MSU won its fourth straight game to improve to 12-1 overall. The Bulldogs can match last season’s overall win total by beating Mississippi Valley State in their final non-conference game later this month.

    “After the first 10 minutes, I thought we played really well,” MSU head coach Vic Schaefer said. “I think I have a tired basketball team. We have done a lot in a short period of time. We have played more games than anybody in the (Southeastern Conference). We are now going to have five days away from basketball and I think that is good for both our players and coaches. “

    The Bulldogs had some defensive struggles as both teams got off to good offensive starts. MSU held small leads of 14-12 and 21-19 before finding the necessary separation on the defensive end.

    A 6-0 run stretched the MSU lead to 30-21 on a jumper by Dominique Dillingham with 8:16 left. A follow-up 17-1 run stretched the lead to 47-25 with 3:10 left before halftime.

    “I think of (Dillingham) as our secret assassin,” Schaefer said. “She had 17 points on 7-of-11 shooting, three rebounds, three assists and three steals. That is the stat line for most players in a 40-minute game and she did it in 20 minutes. She plays hard and is a competitor. No one is going to take away her joy in playing the game.”

    The Bulldogs shot 54.1 percent from the field in the opening half and led 58-31 at halftime.

    MSU continues to attack offensively, driving the ball in the paint. For a second straight game, MSU made it to the free throw line more than 40 times, hitting 36 of 44 foul shots.

    “We shoot free throws like six out of seven days in practice,” said MSU junior center Martha Alwal, who notched her 23rd career double-double with 24 points and 10 rebounds. “We have been playing some teams with players smaller than we are and we have done a good job of taking advantage of that.”

    Alwal’s 23rd-career double-double tied her for the lead among active SEC players.

    The Bulldogs scored the first 11 points of the second half to quickly build a 69-31 advantage slightly more than two minutes into the game’s final half.

    MSU extended the lead to 80-45 on a layup by Katia May and later hit the 100-point mark on a free throw by Sherise Williams with 6:20 left.

    “We are getting some great point guard play right now and that is a key for us,” Schaefer said. “(Katia May) and (Jerica James) combined for 12 points, 12 assists and two turnovers. Then when we get Martha going, we have capabilities on the offensive end.”

    For the contest, the Bulldogs hit 35 of 67 shots from the field (52.2 percent), 3 of 4 shots from 3-point range (75.0 percent) and 36 of 44 shots from the foul line (81.8 percent). The Lions hit 22 of 52 shots from the field (42.3 percent), 6 of 14 shots from 3-point range (42.9 percent) and 7 of 12 shots from the foul line (58.3 percent).

    MSU held a 44-25 rebounding advantage. The Bulldogs had 21 assists and 11 turnovers, while the Lions had 10 assists and 29 turnovers.

    Alwal was followed in the scoring column by Grant with 18 points, Dillingham with 17 points and Breanna Richardson with 14 points.

    SLU (1-10) received 15 points from Elizabeth Styles, 11 points from Symone Miller, 11 points from Peaches Anderson and 11 points from Aja Gibson.

    MSU will now take time off for Christmas before returning to the Humphrey Coliseum for a 7 p.m. start against Mississippi Valley State on Dec. 30.