March 2, 2007
Duluth, Ga. (Gwinnett Center) – The South Carolina women’s basketball team suffered an 81-63 defeat to top-seeded Tennessee Friday afternoon in the quarterfinals of the Southeastern Conference Tournament played at the Gwinnett Center. The Gamecocks fell to 17-14 overall, and No. 2 Tennessee improves to 28-2 overall.
Carolina played tough but couldn’t overcome a 16-5 Tennessee run to open the second half after trailing 40-28 at the break. Lakesha Tolliver led the Gamecocks with 13 points and Melanie Johnson contributed 11 points, six rebounds and five steals. Tennessee’s Sidney Spencer led all scorers with 22 points while Alexis Hornbuckle added 17 points. Candace Parker, the SEC Player of the Year, notched her 18th double-double of the season but was held to 10 points against Carolina which ties for her second-lowest point total of the season and fourth-lowest of her career.
Carolina guard Stacy Booker left midway through the first half with a left knee injury. She did not return to the court for the remainder of the game. She will be examined when she returns to Columbia and her status for the post-season will be known when the results of that examination come in.
Tennessee used an 11-2 run early in the first half to put the lead into double-digits at 23-10. The Gamecocks responded with a 9-1 run to pull within five points, but the Lady Vols responded with a 12-3 run to hold a 14-point advantage, 36-22, with 1:54 remaining for its biggest lead of the half. South Carolina rattled off six consecutive points over the next minute before the Lady Vols hit two field goals, including a jumper at the buzzer, to head into the half with a 40-28 advantage.
Both teams hit 40 percent of their field goals in the first half and were matched closely in turnovers and rebounds, but the Lady Vols held a 12-4 advantage in second chance points to help keep the double-digit advantage in the first half. They finished the game with a 20-8 second chance point advantage.
The Lady Vols built the lead to as many as 29 points in the second half. South Carolina guard Brionna Dickerson, who scored all nine of her points in the second half, sparked a 14-4 Carolina rally to bring the score to 71-52 but the Gamecocks never pulled closer than 18 points.