Saturday, March 08, 2014
SEC Tourney Semi: No. 6 Tennessee 86, No. 15 Texas A&M 77
For the second game in a row, Tennessee rallied from a double-digit first half deficit to comeback for a victory in the SEC Tournament. On Saturday, the second-seeded Lady Vols trailed by as many as 10, but came away with a 86-77 victory over third seed Texas A&M at The Arena at Gwinnett Center.
Tennessee advances to the SEC Championship game for the 22nd time in the 35-year history of the tournament. The Lady Vols are seeking their 17th SEC Tournament Championship. The Lady Vols will take on Kentucky, the fourth-seed, an upset winner over #1 seed South Carolina, 68-58. Tennessee has won the last six championship games it has played in, dating to 2005.
This is also the eighth time Tennessee has finished second in the SEC regular-season standings and in all eight instances, Tennessee won the SEC Tournament Championship.
Sunday's Championship game will tip at 3:30 p.m., and air on ESPN and the Lady Vol Network.
In Saturday's comeback win, the Lady Vols (26-5) were down by 10 twice in the first half. But they showed similar grit and hustle with that `we will not be denied' attitude, which was on display Friday, when they rallied from down 15 to beat LSU by 12 in the SEC Quarterfinals.
Isabelle Harrison led the Lady Vols with 20 points and 13 rebounds for her 17th double-double of the season. Meghan Simmons notched 15 points as she made 8-of-10 from the foul line to clinch the game. Bashaara Graves tallied 14 points. Cierra Burdick added nine points and 10 rebounds for her third game in fourth with double-figure rebounds.
Freshmen Mercedes Russell (11 points and 6 rebounds) and Jordan Reynolds (9 points) had major impacts off the bench in the second half.
Texas A&M's `Courtneys' headed up the Aggies' offense as Courtney Walker (26) and Courtney Williams (22) combined for 48 points. Texas A&M is now 24-8.
The game featured 11 ties and 10 lead changes.
The second half was a back-and-fourth affair. With the score tied at 75 with less than four minutes to go, Tennessee scored seven consecutive points to take an 82-75 lead as A&M missed five consecutive shots. Harrison put Tennessee up 77-75 with 3:04 remaining. Graves knocked home a jumper 40 seconds later. Simmons nailed three free throws to put the Lady Vols up 82-75 with 1:21 left in the game.
Tennessee finished the game scoring 11 of the game's final 13 points to return to the title game.
The Lady Vols dominated the glass, outrebounding the Aggies, 48-26.
Tennessee rallied in the first half to lead, 39-38, at intermission in a fast-paced first half. Williams (13) and Walker (10) combined for 23 first-half points for the Aggies. Harrison topped the Lady Vols' scoring chart with 10.
Down 23-13 after a Williams' jumper with 10 minutes left in the half, Tennessee used a 13-3 run to tie the game at 26 all on a layup by Graves with 5:19 prior to halftime.
Five consecutive points by Tennessee gave the Lady Vols a 36-33 lead on a 3-point play by Mercedes Russell and a Harrison jumper in the final minutes as UT took the lead into intermission.