Austin lifts Ole Miss over No. 23 Florida women in SEC

Mar 4, 2022, 12:37 AM | Updated: 3:42 pm
Florida's Nina Rickards, left, drives against Mississippi's Angel Baker (15) in the first half of a...

Florida's Nina Rickards, left, drives against Mississippi's Angel Baker (15) in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game at the women's Southeastern Conference tournament Friday, March 4, 2022, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

(AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Two-time All-SEC center Shakira Austin scored 27 points and grabbed 13 rebounds as Mississippi held off No. 23 Florida 70-60 Friday in the Southeastern Conference women’s tournament quarterfinals.

The fourth-seeded Rebels (23-7) now have won five of their last six. This victory puts them in the semifinals for the 10th time in program history and first since 1993.

They will play top-ranked South Carolina, the SEC regular season champ, in the semifinals Saturday in a rematch of the regular season finale between the teams that the Gamecocks won 71-57 in Oxford last weekend.

Angel Baker scored 15 points for Ole Miss, which hit 12 of its last 14 free throw attempts to seal the win.

No. 5 seed Florida (21-10) now will wait for the NCAA Tournament bracket announcement having lost four of five with injuries to two starters and two of its top three leading scorers.

All-SEC guard Kiara “Kiki” Smith, the Gators’ leading scorer, said afterward that her season is over. She was helped off the court late in their second-round win over Vanderbilt with a right knee injury. Smith was using crutches and helping on the bench during Friday’s game.

Then forward Jordyn Merritt took a nasty fall in the first quarter and played only 3 minutes.

Zippy Broughton hit six 3-pointers and led Florida with 26 points. Kristina Moore had 11.

The Gators led only once on a 3 by Broughton. Austin scored the next six points before Broughton hit another 3 to tie it at 6. Lashonda Monk hit a jumper with 6:18 left to put Ole Miss ahead to stay, and the Rebels led 20-15 at the end of the first quarter. Ole Miss led 32-25 at halftime.

Florida, which wiped out a 14-point deficit Thursday to advance, kept fighting.

The Gators pulled within 40-39 with 2:22 left in the third on Alberte Rimdal’s layup. Baker answered with Ole Miss’ first 3-pointer of the game after the Rebels missed their first 11 outside the arc. Snudda Collins added another 3, then Austin hit two free throws as Ole Miss led 48-41 at the end of the quarter.

Florida got within four with 1:29 remaining on a 3 by Broughton, but the Rebels hit their final eight free throws.

___

More AP women’s college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-womens-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

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Austin lifts Ole Miss over No. 23 Florida women in SEC