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    SEC Women's Basketball Recap: Thursday, January 9th

    THURSDAY WOMEN'S HOOPS SCHEDULE
    South Carolina 68, Kentucky 59
    Tennessee 94, Ole Miss 70
    Vanderbilt 74, Auburn 65
    Texas A&M 50, LSU 48
    Florida 59, Arkansas 52
    Missouri 66, Georgia 56

     

    Gamecocks Dispatch Kentucky 68-59 in Top-10 Tilt

    COLUMBIA, S.C. -- No. 10/11 South Carolina led by as many as 22 points in the second half and held off a late charge from No. 9/10 Kentucky (13-3, 1-2 SEC) to capture a 68-59 victory in SEC play on Thursday night at Colonial Life Arena. A trio of Gamecocks (15-1, 3-0 SEC) had the offense clicking – guard Tiffany Mitchell poured in a game-high 17 points, forward Aleighsa Welch posted a double-double with 16 points and 14 boards and center Alaina Coates recorded her third straight double-double with 10 points and a South Carolina freshman record 17 rebounds.

    “I’m truly proud of our players. They’ve worked so hard all season long, and it was a great win for our program,” South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley said. “There have been a lot of people that have come before them and have put us in a position where we can win basketball games like this. I thought the crowd was great. They gave us an extra push when we were running out of gas. Kentucky got into our lead in a big way and when you have this type of atmosphere, it usually helps you get over the hump to hold on to get the win.”

    Early on, the Gamecocks found it difficult to feed the post against the size of the Wildcats’ frontcourt, and the slow start opened the door for Kentucky to score the first six points of the contest. A pair of free throws from Mitchell put the Gamecocks on the board after two minutes had gone by.

    Guard Khadijah Sessions and Coates checked in at the first media timeout – the action was the first for Sessions after missing five games due to an ankle injury. The sophomore wasted no time, draining a 3-pointer on her first touch to draw the Gamecocks to within three at 10-7.

    The Wildcats stretched their advantage back out to six at 13-7, but three unanswered buckets from Mitchell, guard Tina Roy and center Elem Ibiam leveled the score at 13-all midway through the first period.

    Roy turned an offensive rebound into a runner in the lane to give the Gamecocks their first lead of the night at 15-14. The teams quickly exchanged the lead with Roy putting South Carolina back up with another baseline jumper, and after missed opportunities by both, Welch hit a transition layup and the ensuing free throw to make it a 20-16 South Carolina advantage with 5:59 left in the half.

    Just over two minutes later, Coates spiked a shot attempt by Azia Bishop, which ignited the crowd. Feeding off the energy, the Gamecocks hit their stride, ramping up the speed and locking down on the defensive end for the final three minutes of the half. Holding onto a three-point advantage at 23-20, South Carolina allowed just one basket in the remaining time and seized a 10-point advantage. Roy sank an open jumper from the left elbow and added a 3 two possessions later. Mitchell picked the Wildcats’ pocket near midcourt and took it all the way to push the lead to eight. A block from Mitchell on the next possession quickly lead to a Coates bucket, and the Gamecocks had the largest lead of the half with 1:22 left at 32-22.

    Samarie Walker drained two free throws to cut the lead to eight, but on the ensuing possession, Welch corralled a shot blocked by Ibiam to set up the final shot of the half. Welch went bounding through the lane to give South Carolina a 10-point half-time advantage on the final play of the stanza.

    Out of the break, the teams traded baskets before the Gamecocks picked up where they left off, streaking on an 8-0 run that included traditional three-point plays from Welch and Ibiam. After Ibiam collected two of her career-high six blocks, Mitchell capped the run on a fastbreak opportunity started by Welch. The unanswered points gave the Gamecocks a 44-27 edge with 14 minutes to play.

    Trailing by as many as 22 at 54-32 with just over eight minutes on the clock, the Wildcats weren’t done. An 11-1 Kentucky run, aided by a barrage of foul calls and difficulty at the free throw line for the Gamecocks, featured a combined eight points from Bishop and Janee Thompson and brought the visitors to within striking distance at 55-43.

    The Gamecocks went to their most experienced player to stop the surge, and Welch delivered with a drive through the lane to make the score 57-43. Back-to-back baskets from DeNesha Stallworth and Bishop chipped four more points off the lead, and the Gamecocks continued to struggle at the free throw line, hitting just 2-of-7 in four trips to the stripe. Despite the cold shooting, the South Carolina defense stayed strong, and the Gamecocks were still on top 59-49 with four minutes to go.

    Another bucket from Thompson brought the Wildcats to within eight at 59-51, prompting a South Carolina timeout. Mitchell hit a pair of free throws to return the Gamecocks to form. A Mitchell steal created a layup for guard Olivia Gaines, and the Gamecocks went back up by 12 with two minutes remaining.

    Walker added six points in the final 1:40 for Kentucky pulling the Wildcats as close as 63-55 with 1:30 on the clock. A Coates jumper over Stallworth and free throws from Mitchell and Welch sealed the 68-59 victory.

    The Gamecocks swatted a school-record 14 shots on the night. Ibiam recorded six of her own, the most ever by a South Carolina player in an SEC game. The defense was key to delivering the victory, holding the Wildcats, who entered the game averaging 92.4 points to just 59 on 31.5 percent shooting – 14 percent below their season percentage.

    The Gamecocks continue conference play with a pair of road games at Auburn on Sun., Jan. 12, at 2:30 p.m., and at Texas A&M on Thurs., Jan. 16, at 8 p.m. South Carolina returns to Colonial Life Arena on Sun., Jan. 19, to face Alabama in a 3 p.m. contest.





    5 Million Fans & A Win; Tennessee Beats Ole Miss, 94-70

    KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- The eighth-ranked Lady Vols returned to their winning ways at home with a dominating 94-70 victory over Ole Miss on Thursday night. Tennessee improved to 13-2 overall and 2-1 in the league after seeing its 15-game home court win streak come to an end in its last home contest.

    Coming off a career-high 28 points, Ariel Massengale tallied a game-high 23 points, giving her the two highest scoring games of her career. She also grabbed a career-high seven rebounds.

    Junior Isabelle Harrison posted her school-record seventh consecutive double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds. She breaks the record she shared with Daedra Charles, who had six double-doubles in a row late in the 1990-91 season.

    Redshirt freshman Andraya Carter scored 12 of her 14 points in the first half. Meighan Simmons also added 12.

    Tennessee has now won 25 games in a row against Ole Miss.

    Ole Miss (9-7, 0-2 SEC) was held without a double-figure scorer as four Rebels scored nine points: Shequilla Joseph, Diara Moore, Gracie Frizzell and Amber Singletary.

    The last time a Lady Vols' foe didn't have a double-figure scorer was Alcorn State, last season on Nov. 25, 2012.

    The night was also a special one as the Lady Vols welcomed their 5 millionth all-time fan to watch a home game. 29-year old school teacher Amanda Humphrey of Hampton, Tenn., walked through the gates at Thompson-Boling Arena shortly before 7 p.m. She was met with a celebration featuring balloons, a signed Holly Warlick basketball, 2014-15 season tickets and other prizes.

    The crowd of 10,382 increased Tennessee's all-time home attendance to 5,006,586.

    NCAA spokesman Rick Nixon said earlier in the week it's a "safe assumption" that Tennessee is the first women's program to reach the 5 million mark based on the Lady Vols' attendance history, but there isn't a way to officially verify that because the NCAA doesn't measure each school's all-time cumulative attendance.

    After Ole Miss scored the game's opening basket, the Lady Vols took control of the game and never trailed again. Tennessee used a 19-6 run to take its first double-figure lead eight minutes into the action.

    The Rebels got within seven points (26-19) with 6:44 left in the first half on a jumper by Joseph, but Tennessee scored six of the next eight points to regain a double-figure lead at 32-21 on a jumper by Simmons with 4:30 left.

    Tennessee led 45-29 at halftime. Massengale and Carter each scored a dozen points in the first half. For Carter, it was her first game in double-figures since the second contest of the season (10 at North Carolina).

    A 3-pointer by Massengale with 13:16 left in regulation gave the Lady Vols their first 20-plus point lead at 63-41. That finished off a 12-2 spurt which put the game out of hand.

    Tennessee had another run of 14-2 to move the margin to 27 points a 77-50 with 6:30 left.

    The Lady Vols out rebounded Ole Miss, 56-40 and dominated points in the paint, 50-32.

    Tennessee returns to action on Sunday as the Lady Vols travel to Vanderbilt for a matchup that will air on ESPN. The game tips just after 5 p.m. ET/4 p.m. CT, an hour later than the originally scheduled time.





    Vanderbilt runs win streak to 21 games over Auburn

    AUBURN, Ala. -- It has become a tradition for Vanderbilt to beat Auburn, and seniors Christina Foggie and Jasmine Lister made sure the Commodores continued the custom Thursday night.

    Foggie scored a team-high 26 points, including going 6-of-11 from 3-point range, and Lister had a double-double with 23 points and 10 assists to lead Vanderbilt to a 74-65 road victory over Auburn.

    It was Vanderbilt's 21st straight win over the Tigers, and head coach Melanie Balcomb improved to 18-0 against Auburn since her arrival at Vanderbilt in 2002.

    "I don't know what it is (about Auburn)," said head coach Melanie Balcomb. "It's all about match-ups. (And) we do look at the history and tradition, and that gives us confidence against them."

    Vanderbilt (13-3, 2-1) used a 17-2 run late in the first half to build a 43-30 lead at the half, and the Commodores maintained a double-digit lead against the Tigers (10-5, 1-1) until the final 90 seconds.

    Auburn made it interesting by cutting Vanderbilt's lead to 70-63 with less than a minute to play, but Lister hit four straight free throws to help Vanderbilt hang on.

    Kady Schrann scored a season-high 14 points, and Morgan Batey had nine rebounds. Foggie finished 6-of-11 from 3-point range.

    Lister was 8-of-15 from the floor and 6-of-7 from the foul line while playing 39 minutes.

    Vanderbilt, the SEC's best 3-point shooting team, was 8-of-17 from long range. The Commodores were also 20-of-24 from the foul line.

    Auburn -- which hasn't beaten Vanderbilt since posting a 55-54 win in Nashville on Jan. 16, 2000 -- came into Thursday's game with a 6-0 record at home but saw that run end after shooting just 41 percent against the Commodores. Vanderbilt didn't shoot it well, either, finishing at 43 percent.

    Vanderbilt produced two big scoring runs in the first half -- one at the beginning and at near the end -- while building a 43-30 halftime lead.

    After falling into a quick 4-0 hole, Vanderbilt reeled off a 20-2 spurt that was fueled by three 3-pointers by Foggie to take a 20-6 lead. After Auburn battled back to trim Vanderbilt's lead to 21-19, the Commodores ripped off a 17-2 spurt to rebuild a comfortable lead, 38-21, late in the first half.

    Foggie was 5-of-10 from the floor in the first half, including 4-of-7 from 3-point range. Lister added nine points and five assists in the first 20 minutes.

    Vanderbilt limited Auburn to 28 percent shooting in the first half (11-of-28) and the Tigers were 0-of-4 from 3-point range.

    NOTE: Thursday's game was the fourth consecutive road game that Vanderbilt had faced a team with an undefeated record at home: James Madison was 2-0 at home before losing to Vanderbilt on Dec. 21; UAB was 5-0 at home before losing to the Commodores on Dec. 30; and South Carolina improved to 9-0 at home after beating Vanderbilt last Sunday.





    Walker's Late Shot Downs No. 12 LSU In Baton Rouge

    BATON ROUGE, La. -- Courtney Walker hit an 18-foot jumper with 40.2 seconds remaining to give the Texas A&M women’s basketball team the lead for good in a 52-48 victory over No. 12 LSU in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center Thursday evening.

    The Aggies won their fifth straight game, and their sixth game in their last eight matchups against ranked teams away from Reed Arena.

    No. 12 LSU (12-3, 1-1 SEC) came out of the gates strong in the first half, taking a 7-2 lead, but Texas A&M clawed back into game, finally taking the lead with 4:04 left in the first half off of a Walker layup. The Aggies led 23-20 going into halftime.

    Texas A&M (12-4, 2-0 SEC) went up 34-25 with 14:05 to play in the game, but LSU then responded with a 16-2 run, nine of which came from the line, to take the lead.

    After LSU took the lead, Texas A&M went on an 13-3 run that extended into the game’s final minute. Walker, who had 12 points in the game, hit her shot to cap off a 9-0 Aggie run, and give Texas A&M for good.

    LSU extended the game by fouling, giving LSU a final chance to tie the game with 13.6 remaining, but Walker stole the ball from the Lady Tigers to seal the victory for Texas A&M after two final free throws.

    Courtney Williams did not score 20 points for the first time since Dec. 22, but did score 17 points with seven rebounds before fouling out with 5:28 to play. She had her 10th straight double digit scoring game.

    The Aggies also received solid contributions from Jordan Jones, who had nine points and four assists, and Rachel Mitchell, who had six rebounds in 11 minutes.

    The Aggies return to action on Sunday at No. 25 Georgia, a game televised on SEC TV at 1:00 p.m. CT. Texas A&M returns to Reed Arena on Jan. 16 to host South Carolina at 7 p.m.





    Gators Run Win Streak to Nine in Win Over No. 25 Arkansas

    GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Senior Jaterra Bonds scored 15 points to lead a trio of double-figure Gator scorers and Florida defeated No. 25 (ESPN-USA Today Coaches Poll, receiving votes in AP) Arkansas, 59-52, for its ninth consecutive win and improved to 3-0 in Southeastern Conference play. Sophomores January Miller and Christin Mercer each scored 13 points to round out the double-digit scorers for Florida.

    Arkansas fought back from a 41-31 deficit and pulled within one point as late as with 2:27 remaining, before Florida finished on a 12-6 run, when Kayla Lewis finished a jumper inside after a nice dish from Christin Mercer, who scored the next bucket for the Gators that gave them a 51-47 advantage with 58 seconds left.

    Florida sealed the game at the free throw line, where it connected on all eight of its attempts in the final 40 seconds, with Bonds, Carlie Needles, Cassie Peoples and Miller each netting two.

    The Gators controlled the first eight minutes of the game, going up 12-5 with 12:06 left in the first half before the Razorbacks found their footing and went on a 8-2 run which cut Florida's lead to 14-13 with 6:52 remaining in the period. Neither team led by more than four after that, with the score being knotted at 24-24 at halftime.

    Florida shot 41.7 percent in the first half, while holding Arkansas to 36 percent from the field.

    The first 4:58 of the second stanza saw both teams fight for points. The largest lead during that time was Arkansas' 29-26 advantage with 18:16 left on the clock. Then, at 15:02, a free throw by Bonds sparked an 11-0 run that lasted 7:28 and saw Florida take a 41-31 lead, its largest of the contest.

    Arkansas outscored Florida 21-18 in the final 7:34 of the game, but the rally was too little too late for the Razorbacks.

    Florida shot 42 percent (21-50) for the game, while Arkansas hit 32.1 (18-56) percent of its attempts. The Gators outscored the Razorbacks in the paint 30-18 and off the bench 23-1.

    The Razorbacks were led by freshmen McKenzie Adams and Jessica Jackson, both of whom scored 23 points.





    Eye Breaks Career Three-Point Record in 66-55 Upset of No. 25 Georgia

    Columbia, Mo. -- Junior guard Morgan Eye broke Mizzou's all-time record for three pointers made en route to a 66-56 victory over the No. 25 Georgia Bulldogs on Thursday night. With 9:07 on the clock in the first half, the sharpshooter buried her 227th trey ball as a Tiger, surpassing Alyssa Hollins to etch her name in school history. The Tigers improve to 13-3 overall and 2-1 in SEC play.

    Eye's record-breaking three-pointer halted a 10-3 run by the Bulldogs, who led 24-14 twelve minutes in to the game. Bri Kulas added 13 of her of game-high 24 points in the first half to weather the storm and cut Mizzou's deficit to just two at halftime.

    In the second half, the Tigers' suffocating zone defense held Georgia to just 22.2 percent shooting from the field. The Bulldogs converted only three of 20 three-point attempts, scoring just 19 points in the final 20 minutes.

    Offensively, Mizzou capitalized on a balanced attack. Eye's second three-pointer of the night handed her squad its first lead of the game at 45-44. After two more long balls, the Tigers turned to the post to pull away. Freshman forwards Kayla McDowell and Jordan Frericks scored easy buckets down low on three consecutive possessions to cap a 9-0 Missouri run. McDowell finished with 13 points and five rebounds.

    After two Georgia free throws, McDowell flashed her passing skills on the ensuing possession, finding Morgan Stock on a back cut. Stock absorbed a foul and managed to flip a layup up and in, giving the Tigers a 61-53 advantage with 1:23 remaining.

    Stock and Lianna Doty sealed the win with free throws in the final minute. Mizzou outscored the Bulldogs 33-21 in a monster second half. The Tigers improve to 13-3 overall and 2-1 in the SEC. They now head to Lexington, Ky., to face the Kentucky Wildcats on Sunday. The game tips off at 4 p.m. and will be televised on ESPNU.