No. 18 Women's Basketball stops South Carolina, 59-55
FREEPORT, Bahamas -- Freshman guard Erika Arriaran scored 14 points, with 10 coming in the final half, including a jumper that put Texas up for good, and fellow freshman Ashley Lindsey had a critical block - her game-high and career-high tying fifth of the game - to go along with eight points and 10 rebounds, to lift the 18th-ranked Texas women's basketball squad to a 59-55 victory over South Carolina in the Junkanoo Jam Tournament's first round on Friday.
Texas faces George Washington (1-1) in Saturday's championship game at 2:30 p.m. Central. GW beat No. 19 Purdue, 49-47, in Friday's other first round game.
Texas (2-1) held South Carolina (2-1) scoreless in the final 4:26, as the UT defense forced two turnovers and the Gamecocks missed all six of their final field goal attempts and final two free throws in that span. The Longhorns were clutch from the foul line, hitting 20 of 29 free throws, while the Gamecocks, who entered the game shooting 70 percent from the line, connected on just 13 of 26 foul shots.
Texas used 13 players throughout the game, as All-America junior forward Tiffany Jackson was forced to spend half the game on the sidelines due to foul trouble. Jackson finished with eight points, five rebounds and three steals in 21 minutes of action. She played 10 minutes in the first half, taking one shot before picking up her third foul.
In her absence, freshmen posts Lindsey (Austin, Texas/Pflugerville Connally) and Aubry Cook (Houston, Texas) along with sophomore redshirt Katrina Robinson (South Grand Prairie, Texas) responded. The post trio combined for 14 points, 15 rebounds and six blocks.
Lindsey's 10 rebounds were a career high, and her five blocks were a game-best, tying her career high. Senior guard Nina Norman chipped in with 13 points for the 2-1 Longhorns.
South Carolina had gone ahead by three, 55-52 with 4:26 to go, on a Ilona Burgrova jumper. Arriaran then hit two straight jumpers, both from the wing, to put Texas in front to stay, 56-55, with 3:20 remaining.
Both teams then went scoreless over the next 1:46, with the Longhorns missing one shot with two turnovers, while South Carolina went 0-3 with two turnovers as well. The Texas defense got two steals from Arriaran and a key block by Lindsey to keep the Gamecocks off the scoreboard.
South Carolina had its best chance to retake the lead with 35 seconds left when guard Lauren Simms drove the lane for what looked like an uncontested layup. However, Lindsey reached up and got a piece of the shot, protecting Texas' lead, and grabbed the rebound as well. Lindsey was fouled on the play, and sank the first of two free throws to give UT a 57-55 edge with 34 seconds on the clock. On the missed free throw, Jackson grabbed the offensive board and UT called a timeout. Norman was fouled on the inbounds play, missed her first free throw before sinking the second and giving the Horns a four-point cushion, 59-55 with four seconds to go.
The Gamecocks had led by as much as seven points 38-31 with 17:34 remaining, and the Longhorns fought back, going on a 18-5 run over the next 8:33, triggered by six points from Arriaran and five Longhorns steals in that stretch.
For the game, Texas shot just 32 percent from the floor, but countered that with 15 steals and a season-best 10 blocks. South Carolina committed 27 turnovers and shot 38 percent for the game (20-53). The Gamecocks had a slight edge in rebounding, 43-41 and finished with 10 steals.
At intermission, South Carolina led, 33-29, as UT shot just 27 percent from the floor (7-26). The Gamecocks were a solid 48 percent from the field in the half (12-25), but Texas kept it close with eight steals and a 14-for-18 effort at the free throw line. South Carolina turned the ball over 14 times in the first 20 minutes.
South Carolina was led by Simms and Iva Sliskovic, who had 12 points each. Sliskovic also had 10 rebounds.
Now, we've got a really quick turnaround to get ready to face a solid George Washington team. We have to recover quickly, watch some film in the morning, and get ready to face an NCAA Tournament-tested team in less than 24 hours.
On the play of the freshmen, particularly the rookie posts in the absence of Tiffany Jackson who battled foul trouble all game long: I think Tiffany learned a valuable lesson out there today. We need her on the court, not on the bench with foul trouble. We do have numbers in the post this year, unlike the last few years, but not a lot of experience in that position. So, it's going to be "playing post by committee" this year. We have a lot of growing up to do in a short period of time, and I know the freshmen took a big step in doing that today without Tiffany out there for the majority of the game. We got big buckets from Erika (Arriaran) when we needed them, and what can I say about Ashley Lindsey? She really had a great game for us. She has a great nose for the ball, moves so well up and down the floor, and has so much length.
Senior guard Nina Norman