In its first SEC Tournament Semifinal game appearance in 29 years, a fourth quarter surge from Ole Miss wasn’t enough to push it past No. 1 South Carolina, falling 61-51 from Bridgestone Arena Saturday afternoon.
With the second meeting between the two teams within a week, Ole Miss (23-8, 10-6 SEC) refused to give up, as Angel Baker and Shakira Austin carried the Rebels in a valiant effort against No. 1South Carolina (29-1, 15-1 SEC).
Baker’s fifth 20-point outing of the season with 20 points led all scorers, while Austin followed behind with 16 points of her own and added her 10th game with three or more blocks.
Ole Miss came out of tipoff with back-to-back layups in the paint, yet the Gamecocks responded with a 12-2 run capitalizing off of Rebel turnovers to gain the lead. 12 of South Carolina’s 14 points in the first quarter were off of Ole Miss miscues.
Off the bench, the SEC’s Sixth-Woman of the Year Baker remained a key factor with 10 points in the second quarter to keep Ole Miss within striking distance of the Gamecocks. Another quick South Carolina run allowed them to extend their lead as their productivity in the paint put them up 33-22 heading into halftime.
It seemed as if the Rebels could not get a shot off, as South Carolina continued to keep draining buckets its own at the opposite end of the floor to go up by as many as 25 in the third quarter.
The Rebels began the final frame with fight remaining with a 12-4 run to cut its deficit to 11. Taking over was Austin, with 11 points alone in the quarter. Ole Miss locked it down on defense, holding the Gamecocks without a field goal in the final 10 minutes. This strong effort was not enough, as South Carolina’s lead was too much to overcome, as the Gamecocks walked away with the 61-51 victory.
Ole Miss will await its postseason fate until Selection Sunday on March 13, as the Rebels hope to seek an at large bid to the NCAA Tournament for its first appearance since 2007.
Courtesy of Ole Miss Sports