Day 1 NCAA Tournament: SEC recap

UAlbany players celebrate their upset win over Florida Friday. Photo by Bill Ziskin.
UAlbany players celebrate their upset win over Florida Friday. Photo by Bill Ziskin.

Florida Hounded by Great Danes in the 4th

Florida led by as many as 17 points in their first round match up vs Albany, but the Gators went scoreless for nearly eight minutes in the fourth quarter and found themselves in a battle with the Great Danes. They were outscored 19-7 in the fourth quarter and ultimately fell, 61-59.

Shereesha Richards, one of Albany’s star players, fouled out with two minutes remaining in the game, but Imani Tate and company stepped up in her absence. Tate had 28 on the day and Tiana-Jo Carter stuck in a layup with eight seconds left to seal the deal after a Florida player saved a ball from going out of bounds under the Great Danes basket.

Imani Tate drives against Florida's Cassie Peoples. Tate's 28 points propelled UAlbany past the Gators in NCAA Tournament first-round action. Photo by Bill Ziskin.
Imani Tate drives against Florida’s Cassie Peoples. Tate’s 28 points propelled UAlbany past the Gators in NCAA Tournament first-round action. Photo by Bill Ziskin.

Florida committed 25 turnovers on the day and shot just 35 percent from the floor, including 15 percent from three-point land. They were led in scoring by Eleanna Christinaki with 11, and Ronni Williams had 10 points and 7 rebounds.

This is the first time under coach Amanda Butler that the Gators have lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The Great Danes will face Syracuse in second round action Sunday.

Lady Vols Survive Rise of the Phoenix

Tennessee found themselves tied at half and down by one at the end of the third quarter in their first round meeting with the Green Bay Phoenix. The Lady Vols opened the game with a Diamond DeShields three, and led 10-6 before Green Bay cut the led to one at the end of the first quarter.

Diamond DeShields puts up two of her 14 points against Green Bay Friday. Photo courtesy of UT Athletics.
Diamond DeShields puts up two of her 14 points against Green Bay Friday. Photo courtesy of UT Athletics.

Tennessee trailed in the second quarter, 24-16, before Kortney Dunbar was inserted into the game and delivered a basket from deep, which cut the Phoenix’s lead to 5. The Lady Vols gained some moment to end the half on back to back put backs by Mercedes Russell, who finished the game with 13 rebounds.

Freshman Te’a Cooper came to play in the second half, scoring 15 for the game, which helped Tennessee secure a 59-53 victory after a back and forth second half. DeShields followed Cooper in scoring with 14. The Phoenix were able to pack the lane defensively, forcing the Lady Vols to shoot outside the lane. Offensively, Green Bay was successful most of the game when posting up their guards.

Tennessee continued to struggle from three, making just 3 of 12 attempts, but they committed just 10 turnovers. The Phoenix shot slightly worse from the field than their opponents and committed one more turnover. The Lady Vols won the rebounding battle, 40-38.

Tennessee faces host Arizona State Sunday evening for the opportunity to advance to the Sweet 16 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Bulldogs Hold Off Mocs

Despite shooting just 33 percent from the floor, Mississippi State was able to take down Chattanooga, 60-50, behind Victoria Vivians’ 19 points. Chinwe Okorie was the other Bulldog in double figures with 12, and she also snagged 9 rebounds. The Mocs are three in double digits, including Jasmine Joyner, who had 17.

Chattanooga lead 16-11 after the first quarter, but Mississippi State outscored them 18-5 in the second period and didn’t look back from there. The Bulldogs converted on 15 of 20 attempts from the free throw, compared to the Mocs 8 of 9.

Mississippi State committed 17 turnovers, but grabbed 44 team rebounds, which included 24 offensive rebounds.

The Bulldogs will have to take much better care of the basketball if they want to knock off Ariel Powers and the very talented Michigan State Spartans on Sunday.

Early Start Fuels Auburn

The Auburn Tigers were able to jump out to an early 19-6 lead to start the game vs St. John’s Friday evening. Both teams shot a high percentage from the floor (Auburn 46.6 percent, St John’s 47.8), but St. John’s committed 25 turnovers in the contest and couldn’t slow down Auburn’s McKay who finished with 24 points. The Tigers themselves committed 17 turnovers themselves and made just 11 of 22 free throws on the night.

Other leading scorers for the Tigers included Montgomery with 11 and Jones with 13. The Red Storm were led by Grant with 25 and Handford with 10.

Today’s win is the first time Auburn has won an NCAA Tournament game since 2009, they now advance to play top-seeded Baylor on Sunday.

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