Scoring troubles for the No. 12 Lady Vols lead to a 73-62 loss to No. 8 South Carolina in the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament.
Freshman Anastasia Hayes came of the bench and scored a Tennessee-best 17 points. Jaime Nared and Mercedes Russell both finished in double-figure scoring with 15 and 12 respectively.
Although questionable for the game after going down hard in the Lady Vols’ previous contest, Jaime Nared made her presence known early by kicking off Tennessee’s scoring with a three point bucket.
A’ja Wilson, also a game-time decision, checked in four minutes into the game and made an immediate difference, scoring on her first shot attempt and grabbing back-to-back defensive boards.
Tennessee couldn’t buy a basket in the first quarter. They put up 20 shots but only hit two. Not much changed in the second quarter with the Lady Vols ending the half shooting 8 of 40.
Holly Warlick received a technical foul midway through the second period.
South Carolina held the halftime edge 23-22.
The Lady Vols fought back in the third quarter, outscoring South Carolina 20-15.
Wilson left the court with 4:35 on the clock and the Gamecocks suffered without their leader. Tennessee was able to climb back to a 3-point deficit before ending the quarter down five, 48-43.
South Carolina opened up the fourth quarter on an 11-0 run, pushing their lead to 16 with 8:07 left in the game.
The Gamecocks sealed the win and will move on the Semifinals on Saturday.
Tennessee’s road in the SEC tournament ends with the loss, but they will continue action in the NCAA tournament. The bracket is announced March 12th.