Santos, Gators cruise in tournament opener

By wire services
Published March 3, 2006

NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Danielle Santos scored 24 to lead Florida to a 98-83 victory over Mississippi State in the first round of the SEC tournament on Thursday.

The Gators (21-7), seeded fifth, play fourth-seeded Kentucky in a quarterfinal game at 7:30 tonight (FSN).

Florida and Kentucky split their regular-season meetings, with the Gators winning 68-61 in Lexington and the Wildcats winning 80-65 in Gainesville.

"I am just glad we don't have to go back to the hotel and pack our suitcases," said Carolyn Peck, who had never coached the Gators to an SEC tournament victory.

MISSISSIPPI 94, ARKANSAS 64: Ashley Johnson scored 23 for the eighth-seeded Rebels, who disrupted the outside game of the ninth-seeded Razorbacks (3-of-23 on 3-pointers and 28.8 percent overall).

AUBURN 64, S. CAROLINA 48: Freshman DeWanna Bonner scored 25 as the 10th-seeded Tigers upset the seventh-seeded Gamecocks. South Carolina fell behind 13-0 and never led.

VANDERBILT 84, ALABAMA 62: Cherish Stringfield hit three 3-pointers early in the second half for the sixth-seeded Commodores. The 11th-seeded Crimson Tide had 21 turnovers, leading to 27 points.

ACC tournament first round

N.C. STATE 67, CLEMSON 53: Marquetta Dickens had 16 points and the fifth-seeded Wolfpack dominated the second half against the 12th-seeded Tigers in Greensboro, N.C. North Carolina State faces fourth-seeded FSU at 4 today (FSN).

GEORGIA TECH 79, MIAMI 62: The 11th-seeded Yellow Jackets tied a tournament-record low with two assists - North Carolina had two in a 1983 semifinal - and finished with 23 turnovers, yet scored more than 60 in regulation for the first time since Jan. 29. The sixth-seeded Hurricanes were outrebounded 47-31.

VIRGINIA 57, BOSTON COLLEGE 54: Sharnee Zoll scored 18 and the ninth-seeded Cavaliers overcame a 10-point deficit in the first half to beat the eighth-seeded Eagles.

VA. TECH 73, WAKE FOREST 60: Kirby Copeland scored 17 for the seventh-seeded Hokies. The 10th-seeded Demon Deacons were outscored in the paint 46-24.

HATCHELL ACC COACH OF THE YEAR: Sylvia Hatchell, who led North Carolina to its best regular season (26-1), edged Maryland's Brenda Frese 33-28 in voting by the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association. FSU's Sue Semrau was third (five votes).

Top 25

TCU 63, NO. 17 UTAH 62: Natasha Lacy's last-second layup ended the host Utes' (20-6, 11-4) seven-game winning streak.