Without her in the middle, Mississippi State hit only 1 of 11 shots overall and nothing after Jazzmun Holmes' jumper with 8:21 to go in the quarter.
A 19-2 run to start the second quarter showed they listened well.
Lightning: An off-shooting night from all of the Bulldogs' usually accurate 3-point shooters: Victoria Vivians (1 for 5), Roshunda Johnson (2 for 8) and Blair Schaefer (0 for 5). The Lady Bears defeated Texas 81-56 on January 25 and 93-87 on February 19 and will enter the championship game on a 27-game win streak. The Bulldogs already snapped South Carolina's streak of four straight regular season championships, snapped their streak of 11 straight losses to SC, and were looking to go undefeated in the SEC for the first time since SC did it two years ago. I thought this would be a game of toughness.
"I don't know why we did that, but we are a team that is really good at adjusting to and fixing problems".
Vic Schaefer's team could never quite get it going offensively.
Napheesa Collier added 19 points and Azura Stevens chipped in with 15 points and nine rebounds for CT (30-0), which has won 30 games for the 13th straight season and 23rd overall. Names such as Georgia's Katrina McClain, Tennessee's Chamique Holdsclaw, LSU's Seimone Augustus and so many more, all great players in SEC women's basketball history. In the second half, we played harder, played better. "So they're awfully tough". Murray had a team-high seven rebounds for the Wildcats. The Bulldogs had 19 assists and five turnovers, while the Wildcats had nine assists and 13 turnovers.
That helped Gamecock star A'Ja Wilson get it going, as she led her team with 16 points. That was the best it would get for the Wildcats.
Thunder: Early foul trouble for Teaira McCowan, especially against a player of SC center A'Ja Wilson's ability.
"Our season's not over, but this is a bitter taste", Blair Schaefer said. "And the thing that Ro can do so well is she will just take you off the bounce if you go get her".
Kentucky (15-17) was 10-for-15 from the field (66.7 percent) in the first quarter. Schaefer was asked if he considered putting McCowan back in during the second quarter as SC extended its lead and the Bulldogs' offense was sputtering. In the fourth quarter, Wilson's focus switched to defense, and she took on Vivians.
The Mississippi State women's basketball team has made a living out of punching first this season. They hurt themselves with too many turnovers (13) that were turned into 21 points. MSU shot 28-for-56 from the field, its 12th time this season shooting 50 percent or better from the field. They also had a big advantage at the free throw line (15 of 17) compared with Kentucky (5 of 7). McCowan had 12 points and 11 rebounds for her school-record 23rd double-double.
"I kind of hope she keeps flying under the radar, personally".
Yet again for Mississippi State, South Carolina acted as a foil. Johnson was 7 of 7 at the foul line against Kentucky.