Austin lifts Ole Miss over No. 23 Florida women in SEC
Mar 4, 2022, 12:37 AM | Updated: 3:42 pm
(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.
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