Nashville, TN – No. 12 Tennessee erased a 16-point first-half deficit and closed within three in the third quarter but couldn’t overcome No. 8 South Carolina, falling 73-62 in the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament at Bridgestone Arena.
Freshman Anastasia Hayes led Tennessee (24-7) in scoring, tying her career high of 17 points. Senior Jaime Nared posted a double-double for Tennessee with 15 points and 13 rebounds, playing her ninth 40-minute game of the season.
A’ja Wilson led South Carolina (24-6) with 24 points and 12 rebounds. Alexis Jennings also recorded a double-double for the Gamecocks, logging 19 points and 12 rebounds.
Tennessee Lady Volunteers forward Cheridene Green (15) South Carolina Gamecocks guard Doniyah Cliney (4) and Tennessee Lady Volunteers guard Anastasia Hayes (1) battle for positioning on a free throw during the first half of the SEC Conference Tournament at Bridgestone Arena. (Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports)
Nared struck first for Tennessee, knocking down a three to give the Lady Vols their only lead of the game at 3-2. UT got off to a slow start from the floor, shooting 1-of-8 in the opening minutes while South Carolina jumped out to a 9-3 lead by the 4:51 media timeout. Hayes came off the bench to put up six points for the Lady Vols, while South Carolina capitalized on free throws, hitting 6-of-7 to take a 16-9 lead into the second quarter.
The Gamecocks started the second quarter with a 6-0 run to extend their lead to 13 with 7:58 to play in the half. Tennessee answered by scoring four quick points to cut the lead to 22-13 less than a minute later, but South Carolina rallied back and was up by 16 at the 5:40 mark. Tennessee answered with an 8-0 run to cut the deficit to eight with 3:25 to play in the half. South Carolina would knock down a jumper, though, to send Tennessee to the locker room down 33-23.
Nared scored the first three points of the second half for Tennessee as well, hitting all three free throws after being fouled behind the arc. Tennessee then went 4-of-4 from the floor to cut the lead to 39-35 off a Meme Jackson trey with 6:20 to play in the quarter. A’ja Wilson converted on a three-point play, however, to set off a 7-0 Gamecock run before Tennessee answered with an 8-0 run of its own, cutting the deficit to three with just over a minute in the period. South Carolina converted on a jumper to send the Lady Vols into the fourth down five at 48-43.
South Carolina came out hot at the beginning of the fourth, scoring 13 unanswered points before Nared came up with a jumper. Tennessee mounted an 8-0 run beginning with a Hayes layup at the 5:03 mark to cut the lead to 10 with 3:31 left in the game. Tennessee would trim the lead to as few as nine in the closing minutes but couldn’t close the gap any further, falling 73-62.
Next Up for UT Women’s Basketball
Tennessee will await Selection Monday on Monday, March 12th, when the seedings for the NCAA Tournament will be announced. The first round of the NCAA Tournament will begin March 16th.
SectionsAssociations, Basketball (Women), Colleges, Featured Story, NCAA, Ohio Valley Conference, Sports, University of Tennessee
TopicsAja Wilson, Anastasia Hayes, Bridgestone Arena, Gamecocks, Jaime Nared, MeMe Jackson, Nashville TN, NCAA Tournament, SEC Tournament, South Carolina, Tennessee, Tennessee Lady Vols, UT, UT Basketball, UT Lady Vols, UT Women's Basketball