No. 8 Gamecocks Roll Past No. 19 Georgia 71-49 To Reach SEC Title Game
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) The South Carolina Gamecocks are ready for yet another showdown with Mississippi State.
It’s not the national championship the Gamecocks won last April , just the third time around with the Southeastern Conference women’s tournament title on the line.
”I’m glad we get a chance to try to outfox each other one more time,” South Carolina coach Dawn Staley said of facing Mississippi State coach Vic Schaefer again. ”I’ll be remiss if I didn’t say I want it to end the same way it did last year all the way through.”
A’ja Wilson had 21 points and 11 rebounds to help No. 8 South Carolina rout No. 19 Georgia 71-49 on Saturday to reach the SEC tournament championship for the fourth straight year.
Wilson came off the bench for a second straight game after a bout of vertigo kept her out of the regular-season finale and had her questionable for the tournament. The three-time SEC player of the year came in needing five points to become the Gamecocks’ career scoring leader scorer, and Wilson managed that with three quick buckets in the first quarter.
Now three-time defending tournament champ South Carolina (25-6) will play No. 2 Mississippi State for something no SEC team has ever managed – a fourth straight title. Mississippi State beat No. 15 Texas A&M 70-55 earlier Saturday.
”It would mean the world to me honestly just to put something else in the history book here,” Wilson said. ”We have been breaking records for a while now. Coach has turned this program around, and that’s one of the reasons why I came here, is to be in the history books.”
Doniyah Cliney and Mikiah Herbert Harrigan added 14 points apiece for South Carolina.
Georgia (25-6) heads home missing out on the championship game yet again. A four-time tournament champ, the Bulldogs haven’t played in the title game since 2004. Coach Joni Taylor wasn’t happy that the Bulldogs shot 29.7 percent.
”Hopefully that’s what we learned from this game,” Taylor said. ”We’ve got to be able to knock down big shots in games like this.”
Mackenzie Engram led the Bulldogs with 10 points.
Georgia scored the first four points of the game and led 8-4 on a pair of free throws by Taja Cole with 6:12 left. That’s when Wilson, who came off the bench with 6:52 to go, got going. Wilson missed her first bucket, then knocked down three straight. Caliya Robinson tipped in a bucket for Georgia’s last lead at 12-11 before Wilson’s layup put South Carolina ahead to stay.
South Carolina led 16-12 after the first quarter and led by as much as 16 in outscoring Georgia 19-9 in the second for a 35-21 halftime lead. The Gamecocks led 53-37 after three quarters and led by as much as 23 in the fourth.
- Carolina’s 71-49 win over No. 19/18 GeorgiaSaturdaywas its largest margin of victory over a ranked foe this season.
- The Gamecocks’ 11-straight victories in SEC Tournament play marks the longest winning streak in the event’s history.
- Carolina improved to 25-6 overall with the win over the Lady Bulldogs. The Gamecocks now boast nine 25-win seasons under head coach Dawn Staley.
- Georgia shot just 14.3 percent from the 3-point line. Carolina has held four of its last six opponents to under 25.0 percent shooting from beyond the arc.
After Georgia cut the Carolina lead to 35-27 early in the third quarter, the Gamecocks responded with a 7-0 run to make it 42-27 midway through the period. The Lady Bulldogs remained down by double digits for the rest of the contest.
Carolina defended the 3-point line well against a Georgia team that finished 2-of-14 (14.3 percent) from beyond the arc. The Bulldogs failed to make a 3-pointer in the second half, going 0-of-6 from distance over the final 20 minutes.
Second-seeded Carolina will battle top-seeded Mississippi State Sunday for the SEC Tournament Championship. The game, which can be seen on ESPN2, tips off at 4:30 p.m. ET.