Feb. 25, 2007
Stacy Booker took control in front of 3,466 fans to help South Carolina claim a 72-66 Senior Day victory over Mississippi State Sunday afternoon in women’s basketball action at the Colonial Center. The win was Carolina’s first overtime victory since an 87-81 triumph over No. 9 Duke in 2001.
With the win, the Gamecocks finish the regular season with a 16-13 overall record and a 6-8 mark in Southeastern Conference play. The Bulldogs drop to 17-12 overall and even their record at 7-7 in SEC play.
Booker led all scorers with 18 points, nine coming in overtime, and also added six rebounds and three assists. Lakesha Tolliver added 17 points, seven rebounds and three blocks, while senior Lauren Simms added 11 points. Demetress Adams recorded five points, nine rebounds and four blocks for the Gamecocks.
Playing in their first overtime game of the season, Carolina never slowed down, scoring the first five points of the extra period to take the lead for good. Booker’s three-pointer to make the score 62-59 was South Carolina’s first lead since 3:58 remained in the first half. Mississippi State closed to within two points, 68-66, with 19 seconds remaining in the game, but Booker hit four consecutive free-throws to claim the win.
South Carolina entered the game ranked No. 11 in the nation in blocked shots (5.79 pg) and rejected 10 shots Sunday. It was the third time this season the Gamecocks rejected 10 or more shots in a game. Carolina also held a 49-45 rebounding margin.
The Gamecocks fell behind 7-0 early in the first half before going on a 14-2 run to claim a 14-9 lead. Carolina forced Mississippi State turnovers on three consecutive possessions and Tolliver scored eight points during the run to take the lead. The Bulldogs reclaimed the lead, 22-21, in the midst of outscoring Carolina 11-5 to end the half and take a 28-25 lead heading into the break.
The Bulldogs increased their lead to nine points twice in the early part of the second half, but the Gamecocks chipped away the lead to a one-point differential both times. The teams traded baskets until Lauren Simms was fouled on a three-point attempt with 1:16 remaining in the game. Simms sank all three free-throws to decrease the Mississippi State lead to 57-56, and Tolliver and Booker’s press forced a turnover on the Bulldogs’ next possession.
Two free throws by Mississippi State freshman Alexis Rack pushed the score to 59-56 with 18 seconds remaining, but Carolina’s Tolliver was fouled on a three-point attempt after a timeout. After sinking all three shots to tie the game 59-59, Booker’s pressure on Mississippi State’s guards forced a turnover with two seconds remaining and the game went into overtime.
The Gamecocks next head to the SEC Tournament, held March 1-4 in Duluth, Ga. South Carolina enters as the No. 8 seed and will face No. 9 seed Auburn at 1 p.m. EST.