Matharu scores career-high 35, Florida women upset Vandy 62-59 to reach SEC quarterfinals

GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP) — Aliyah Matharu scored a career-high 35 points with eight rebounds and four steals, and 11th-seeded Florida upset sixth-seeded Vanderbilt 62-59 on Thursday to win two games in the SEC Tournament for the first time since 1997.

Matharu had an outstanding heads-up play to get the Gators to 60 points, the total they needed to advance to Friday’s quarterfinal with third-seeded Ole Miss.

With the score 58-55, Matharu was taking the ball out of bounds under the Gators’ basket. The defender turned her back and Matharu threw the ball off the defender, stepped inbounds, grabbed the loose ball and laid it in for a five-point lead.

Vanderbilt got a pair of free throws from Jordyn Cambridge and then freshman Khamil Pierre had a steal and a layup to make it 60-59 with 25.8 to play. After Faith Dut made 1 of 2 from the foul line, Sacha Washington couldn’t get a layup to fall as she cut down the lane. Zipporah Broughton made a free throw with 11.8 to go but a last-second attempt for the tie by Iyana Moore was an air ball.

Broughton had 10 points for Florida (16-14), which beat Missouri 66-60 in its tournament opener.

Moore had 20 points for the Commodores (22-9), who won the regular-season meeting 63-57. Pierre had 16 points with a career-high 15 rebounds and Washington had 10 points, 11 rebounds and five assists.

Martharu had 16 points in the first half, including the first five of a 12-0 run to close the second quarter that gave the Gators a 32-22 lead.

Matharu had 11-straight Florida points in the first quarter that ended with the Gators up 17-14. Broughton opened the second quarter with a three-point play but then Vanderbilt ran off eight points to take a 22-20 lead. Florida missed nine-straight shots as Vandy was taking the lead but then the Commodores then missed their last eight shots.

Vanderbilt shot just 30% (8 of 27) in the first half and had 14 turnovers the Gators turned into 17 points.

Matharu had a personal 6-0 run early in the second half to get the lead to 15 but the Commodores got as close as five before Eriny Kindred and Matharu scored for a 49-40 lead heading to the fourth quarter.

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