No. 4 Tennessee 82, South Carolina 60

Pat Summitt is a big fan of the way Alicia Manning plays

defense. The reserve forward has spent extra time shooting in the

gym this season in hopes of pleasing her coach just as much with

her offensive output.

Manning scored a career-high 22 points to lead No. 4 Tennessee

to an 82-60 win over South Carolina on Thursday night, its 40th

consecutive win in the series.

”I think she’s a player that’s really invested in her game, and

there’s no substitute for getting in the gym and getting extra

shots,” Summitt said. ”She’s playing with a lot of confidence.

She’s extended her range, which I think has really, really helped

her game.”

The victory secures at least a share of the Southeastern

Conference regular-season crown for the Lady Volunteers. A win over

second-place Georgia on Monday would give them their 16th title and

third in four seasons.

Manning scored from all over the floor, going 8 of 11 from the

field, hitting three of her four attempts from 3-point range and

going 3 of 4 from the foul line.

She hit a 3-pointer to cap an early 17-2 run that gave the Lady

Vols a 21-7 lead with 10:07 left in the first half. After going

8:12 without hitting a field goal, South Carolina got back-to-back

3s by Markeshia Grant and a layup from Ieasia Walker to cut

Tennessee’s margin to 21-5.

The Gamecocks pulled within five points a few minutes later off

a three-point play by Walker, but it was the closest they would

get. Another Manning 3 pushed Tennessee’s lead back into double

digits with 1:32 to go before halftime, and the Lady Vols (25-2,

13-0) pulled away quickly in the second half.

”I’ve been shooting (3-pointers) a lot more in practice,”

Manning said. ”I was feeling a really good rhythm, so I just took

it in.”

Meighan Simmons scored 17 points for the Lady Vols, Shekinna

Stricklen contributed 12 points and 10 rebounds and Alyssia Brewer

grabbed 10 boards.

Walker scored 16 points for South Carolina (15-11, 7-6), which

hasn’t beaten Tennessee since Jan. 23, 1980. Valerie Nainima hit

four 3-pointers and finished with 15 points.

”I think we passed the ball well. We had a lot of assists

tonight,” Walker said. ”We need to move a little bit quicker, but

we had a lot of good things we can take from this game.”

Tennessee also got a win at South Carolina this season,

overcoming 24 turnovers and surviving a late run by the Gamecocks

en route to a 71-56 win on Jan. 20.

That loss seemed to spark the Gamecocks, who won five of their

next six games, including victories over ranked foes Georgia and

Kentucky during the stretch.

South Carolina did its best to keep pace with the Lady Vols in

hopes of getting its third win over a ranked opponent for a second

season in a row. The Gamecocks fired away from around the perimeter

but hit only 34.9 percent of their shots and finished 8 of 22 from

3-point range.

Things got a little scrappy around the basket at times during

the first half. South Carolina was charged with 13 fouls in the

first half, leading to 11-of-17 shooting from the free throw line

by Tennessee, while Stricklen got called for a technical after

tangling with Ashley Bruner on a free-throw shot by teammate Glory

Johnson.

The Lady Vols finished 16 of 25 from the charity stripe,

outrebounded South Carolina 51-30 and turned 16 offensive boards

into 19 second-chance points.

”The outrebounded us by 20 in the last game. We knew it was a

difficult feat to outrebound them, but we thought that if we could

cut the deficit down by half it would give us a chance to compete

and maybe sneak out with a win,” Gamecocks coach Dawn Staley

said

”When you have waves of players coming in like they have, it

wears you down. If you don’t have players to match up with them,

you’re in for a long night,” she said.