Knoxville, TN -- Looking to remain undefeated in the SEC, the No. 3 South Carolina Gamecocks traveled to Knoxville Monday night to take on the No. 24 Lady Vols. As we've seen in past Tennessee games, the Lady Vols seem to have it all together in the first half, but can't pull out the win. Tonight was no different.
With Tennessee struggling, this was certainly a game Tennessee needed to win. The Lady Vols have never lost six conference games in a season. Tonight's loss was number six. These definitely aren't the Lady Vols the fans are used too. The absence of Pat Summit continues to be eye opening.
The Lady Vols were able to keep the score close throughout the game but the Gamecocks fourth quarter rally gave them the win 62-56. Their lack of scoring in the second quarter dug the Lady Vols a hole that ended up being too big to dig out of.
Tennessee came out ready to play. Forced turnovers and shot-clock violations against the Gamecocks gave the Vols a 12-8 lead after the first quarter. The second quarter wasn't quite the same story.
The Gamecocks offense was able to get more shots off, and the Lady Vols began having too many fouls and turnovers. The Lady Vols sent the Gamecocks to the line nine times in the first half. Sloppy passing and shooting resulted in a low scoring first half with the Gamecocks leading 24-21.
It wasn't until the fourth quarter that the Gamecocks began pulling away. The Lady Vols started struggling on offense and couldn't keep the Gamecocks from scoring. We've seen this all year with the Lady Vols, and this was no different.
The Lady Vols ended the game with 19 turnovers that resulted in 16 Gamecock points. According to Tennessee Head Coach, Holly Warlick, it's what cost them the game, "Nothing good is going to happen when you turn it over 19 times. We had our opportunities, and they capitalized on our mistakes."
As for moving forward, "We're in uncharted waters for us right now, but all I know for us to do is to go back and keep working, keep our head up and keep fighting. It's still a big season for us, and our goal is to win the SEC Tournament," Warlick said.
South Carolina's go-to player, A'Ja Wilson, led the Gamecocks with 25 points, six rebounds and five blocks. Khadijah Sessions added 13 points, and Tiffany Mitchell had 12.
Diamond DeShields led the Lady Vols with 21 points and four rebounds. Bashaara Graves had a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Mercedes Russell also played a strong game adding five points and eight rebounds.
If the Lady Vols want to finish the season strong, they need to start finishing each and every game strong. Their next game is at home against Ole Miss.
South Carolina will head back home to take on the Georgia Bulldogs and try to remain undefeated in the SEC.