The 2018 SEC Women’s Basketball Tournament came to an end on Sunday, wrapping up an eventful week for the SEC and the Nashville Sports Council. The Tournament featured SEC heavyweights South Carolina, Texas A&M, and the national favorites Mississippi State.
To begin the SEC tournament, students from the local area of Nashville were invited to watch the 1st round of the tournament, with the SEC generously donating 2,000 tickets to Metro Nashville Public Schools. The stands were abundant with smiles and excitement as the kids watched 13th seeded Arkansas and 12th seeded Vanderbilt clash in an impressive outing by both teams with Arkansas holding onto the lead and puling out a 62-51 win. The Razorbacks had four players in double figures, led by a career-day from sophomore Kiara Williams. The Little Rock, Arkansas native totaled 25 points shooting 11-13 from the floor. She also added 10 rebounds picking up her 4th double-double of the season. Williams played a career-high 32 minutes and went 3-3 from the free throw line, with an added one block and two steals.
The kids were also able to catch the No. 14th seeded Ole Miss Rebels and the 11th seeded Florida Gators battle in a hard fought defensive slugfest with the Rebels prevailing 48-43. Defense was the focal point for this game. Both teams combined for a 27.8 percent clip from the field and a 25.4 percent mark from three, with both teams shooting under 30 percent in at least two quarters.
Following an entertaining 1st round of the tournament, the Nashville Sports Council hosted its Legends Tip-Off Reception commemorating legends from all SEC schools participating in the tournament. This was event paying homage to the outstanding accomplishments and efforts of women who flourished in their respective sport.
In the second round of the tournament, the competition had begun to escalate. The first game of Thursday featured the 9th seeded Kentucky Wildcats vs. the 8th seeded Alabama Crimson Tide. The Wildcats overcame the Crimson Tide 71-64, with a major lift from Maci Morris who scored 25 points, including 18 in the second half and guard Taylor Murray, who had 18 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists.
Following the opening game, the Texas A&M Aggies were set to play against the Arkansas Razorbacks. The Aggies got off to a tremendous start outshooting Arkansas 68.8 to 30 percent while gaining a 23-13 lead in the first quarter. The Aggies surged offensively the whole game, leading by as many as 37 points in the game. The Aggies ended up winning big 82-52 totaling a 30-point margin of victory which is A&M's second largest win in a conference tournament game under head coach Gary Blair.
The third game of the day was set to have 10th seeded Auburn Tigers play against the 7th ranked Tennessee Lady Vols. This was one of the more competitive games, having 13 ties and 15 lead changes in the game. Tennessee freshman Rennia Davis scored 16 points and banked in a clutch 3-pointer from the left wing with a half-second left, giving the Lady Vols a 3 point lead to a 64-61 win.
In the last game of the second round 6th seeded Missouri beat the Ole Miss Rebels 59-50 in the second round of the SEC Tournament. Missouri was never behind although Ole Miss closed the first half on a 12-3 run to go into halftime only down by 2 points with the score 28-26. The Tigers outscored the Rebels 13-4 in the third quarter and mostly led in double digits throughout the fourth.
During the 3rd round the national favorites Mississippi State were set to make their debut being the first game of the day. The Mississippi State Bulldogs played against the underdog Kentucky Wildcats. The bulldogs continued their winning streak beating the wildcats in an 81-58 in a blowout rallying behind Roshunda Johnson’s 20 points.
Following the first game, a Nashville Sports Council member mid-session event was held at the George Jones on Friday, and members were welcome to join some of the NSC staff to enjoy food and basketball between sessions.
Following the first game the Texas A&M Aggies played the 4th seeded LSU Tigers. Although the Aggies came into the game as slight underdogs, they played with confidence behind the SEC freshman of the year Kennedy Carter. She had a game high 27 points, and was dominant from start to finish. This was an up and down game all the way the through, but the Aggies ultimately prevailed 75-69.
The third game of the day highlighted the highly touted number 2 seeded South Carolina Gamecocks against the tenacious Tennessee Lady Vols. A'ja Wilson came off the bench for the Gamecocks despite to her battle with vertigo and had an outstanding 24 points and 12 rebounds leading them to a 73-62 victory.
The last game of the day was 3rd seeded Georgia against Missouri which was another strong defensive outing from both teams. The Lady Bulldogs took control of the game by outscoring Missouri 20-9 in the third quarter and never looked back maintaining the lead.
Right before the semifinals of the SEC Women’s Basketball Tournament, the Nashville Sports Council Hosted the Downtown Dribble Event. This was a family-friendly event in which hundreds of kids aged 5-14 got to dribble basketballs around Bridgestone Arena in anticipation for the next two days of the tournament. The Tennessee Hall of Fame had several speakers talk about women in sports and how to use determination to reach goals including Joan Cronan, Jessica Brewer, and Ariel Massengale. DJ Louis kept the families engaged with music that was broadcast all around the arena and local food vendors such as Maggie Moos, ML Rose, and Detroit Hotdogs offered food. The native Nashville semiprofessional basketball team, the Music City Icons, offered dribbling drills and warmups to kids as well as encouragement as they made their journey around Bridgestone.
After this wonderful event, the Texas A&M Aggies were set to face the juggernaut Mississippi State lady Bulldogs. The Aggies were able to gain an early 18-15 lead, but the Bulldogs reacted going on an 16-4 run going into halftime, the bulldogs put their foot on the gas the rest of the way leading by as much as 19 in the fourth quarter. The Bulldogs won in a convincing fashion 70-55. After this game, the South Carolina Gamecocks we’re set to play against the Georgia Bulldogs. A’ja Wilson had another great game racking up 21 points with 11 rebounds helping the Gamecocks in a 71-49 victory over the Lady Bulldogs.
The finale of the SEC Women’s tournament was between South Carolina and Mississippi State just as the finals at the previous two SEC tournaments. Despite being the crowd favorite, Mississippi State was unable to beat the Gamecocks for the third year in a row. Early in the game, USC got ahead by 10 points and the Bulldogs were unable to recover. The gap fluctuated throughout the game, but Mississippi State never got over the early lead they offered to USC and lost 62-51. The Gamecocks are now the reigning champions of the SEC Women’s Basketball Tournament for the 4th consecutive year.
The Nashville Sports Council would like to extend a special thank you to our Women in Sports Committee for all their work to make this tournament great. We would also like to send a shout out to our sponsors: Vanderbilt Athletics, Kimbro Oil Company, Hill Center Green Hills, Ingram Charities, and HCA TriStar Health.