Lady Vols outplayed by South Carolina in SEC semifinal, 67-52

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GREENVILLE, S.C. (UT Athletics) – No. 14/16 Tennessee, the No. 3 seed, outscored second-seeded No. 7/7 South Carolina 13-8 in the fourth quarter, but couldn’t overcome a 29-point first quarter by the No. 2 seed Gamecocks, falling 67-52 in the semifinals of the SEC Tournament at Bon Secours Wellness Arena on Saturday evening.

Redshirt-junior Jordan Walker and sophomore Jordan Horston were the high scorers for UT (16-7), each finishing with 11 points. Senior Rennia Davis and sophomore Tamari Key were the top rebounders for the Big Orange, grabbing six apiece.

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South Carolina (21-4) was paced by Zia Cooke, who had a game-high 17 points and four rebounds. Aliyah Boston was close behind, posting a double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds, and Destanni Henderson put up 13 points.

The game started off as a back-and-forth affair with four different players for each team scoring in the first five minutes to tie the game at 8-all by the 5:37 mark. A Davis 3-pointer gave UT an 11-10 lead a minute later, but South Carolina answered with a 10-run that put the Gamecocks up by nine with 2:49 left in the first. Davis ended the skid for UT with a jumper, but USC finished the opening stanza strong with nine-straight points, taking a 29-13 lead into the second period.

The Gamecocks picked up where they left off in the second, with Henderson draining a three before Horston found her way into the paint for a layup to trim the deficit back to 17 with 7:34 left in the half. Walker then added two free throws, and Key converted on an old-fashioned three-point play to pull the Lady Vols within 12 by the 4:40 mark. Henderson answered with another trey, but Walker and Key again combined for buckets to cut USC’s lead to 11 at 35-24. Cooke closed out the half with four-straight points for the Gamecocks while her team held UT to a free throw to give USC a 39-25 lead at the second half.

South Carolina carried its momentum through to the third quarter, opening with a 5-0 run to lead by 19 only a minute and 20 seconds in. Key scored UT’s first points of the half, nailing a layup at the 7:22 mark and setting off a 7-2 run that pulled Tennessee within 13 with 5:11 to go in the third. USC responded, though, closing out the quarter with a 13-6 run to enter the fourth up 59-39.

Davis opened the final period with a quick bucket in transition, but Henderson countered with her third trey of the game on the other end to put USC up by 21. Horston and Rae Burrell launched a 6-0 Tennessee run, while South Carolina stalled offensively, going scoreless for more than seven minutes to make the score 62-47 with 2:46 left in the game. But 15 points was as close as Tennessee would get, as South Carolina held on to claim a 67-52 victory and earn a spot in the SEC Championship game vs. Georgia on Sunday.

Up Next: The NCAA Tournament Selection Show will be held at 7 p.m. ET on Monday, March 15, on ESPN. Currently, UT is projected by the two NCAA Selection Committee Top 16 reveals and by ESPN’s Charlie Creme to be a No. 4 seed. This year’s entire NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship will be held in the San Antonio, Texas, area and run March 21 through April 4.

Rennia Cracks Top 10: Senior Rennia Davis moved her career point total to 1,779, passing Tanya Haave (1,771 pts) to land at No. 10 on the all-time Lady Vol scoring list.

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Angela joined the News 12 team in November of 2017 as the weekend sports anchor and reporter. Angela is a proud member of an Army family, which means she has hometowns all over the Eastern Seaboard. Most recently, she calls Peachtree City, Georgia, home, where she graduated from Trinity Christian School and spent her free time driving her purple golf cart. She then headed to Milledgeville, Georgia, to attend Georgia College and State University. A proud Bobcat, Angela graduated Summa Cum Laude with a BA in Mass Communication and represented her December 2016 class as one of three valedictorians. Angela comes to the Scenic City from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, where she worked at the NBC affiliate, WMBF News. Before the big move, she worked as Georgia College's Sports Information Assistant, which let her get paid to be the Bobcats' biggest fan. It all started in Savannah, Georgia, though, where she interned for SAV's number one station, WTOC. When she's not working, you can find Angela watching the New York Giants, Rangers or basically any other game that's on. She also loves traveling, hiking and exploring new places, all with her camera in hand. If you have any story ideas, big or small, feel free to reach out to her on Facebook and Twitter, or email her at amoryan@wdef.com."