Kentucky stuns South Carolina to win SEC women’s title
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – Dre’una Edwards hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 4.2 seconds left, and the Kentucky Wildcats rallied from 15 points down to upset top-ranked South Carolina 64-62 on Sunday to win their first Southeastern Conference women’s tournament championship since 1982.
Kentucky hadn’t even reached this game since 2014. These seventh-seeded Wildcats (19-11) won their 10th straight game with this the biggest yet after knocking off sixth-ranked LSU and No. 18 Tennessee to get to this championship.
The Wildcats not only snapped South Carolina’s 18-game winning streak this season, they also ended the Gamecocks’ search for a third straight SEC tournament title for the regular season champs with Kentucky’s fourth win in as many days.
South Carolina (28-2) led 45-30 with 4:45 left in the third quarter seemingly minutes away from cutting down the nets again. But the Gamecocks didn’t score after Aliyah Boston’s jumper with 5:04 remained that put them up 62-53.
The Wildcats closed the game on an 11-0 run. Rhyne Howard lost the ball with no foul called when she went down in the lane with 18.3 seconds left, giving the ball back to South Carolina. Zia Cooke missed both free throws with 16.4 seconds left to set up the final shot.
After Kentucky took the lead, Destanni Henderson threw up the ball from just past mid-court and hit just right of the rim, setting off a wild celebration by Kentucky.
Edwards finished with 27 points, 12 in the fourth quarter including three 3s including the game-winner. Howard finished with 18 points.
South Carolina should still go into the NCAA Tournament as the No. 1 overall seed.
Boston posted her 24th straight double-double with 21 points and 11 rebounds. Cooke finished with 15 points.
Kentucky didn’t look like a team playing its fourth game in as many days. Howard split a pair of free throws to put Kentucky up 18-17 with 1:19 left, and that was the Wildcats’ only lead until Edwards’ 3 for the win.
South Carolina led 21-18 after the first and led 30-21 at halftime after holding Kentucky to three points in the second. The Gamecocks were up 55-43 at the end of the third.
- Aliyah Boston and Zia Cooke combined for the team’s first 15 points of the game, with Cooke hitting a pair of 3s for eight points to lead the way. The duo finished the first half with more points together (22) than Kentucky had as a team (21).
- Destanni Henderson had four assists in the first quarter alone (on nine total baskets). For the first half, South Carolina assisted on 10 of its 13 made field goals and 16 of 22 field goals in the game
- Kentucky missed its first seven shots of the second quarter and went just 1-of-11 heading into halftime. The Gamecocks made sure to clean up the glass, out-rebounding the Wildcats 13-6 in the period. Kamilla Cardoso led that effort with five rebounds.
- The Gamecocks leaned on their starting five to win a shootout in the third quarter, the quintet scored 23 of the team’s 25 points in the period with Henderson and Boston’s six each leading the way.
- Boston’s seventh 20-point game of the season was joined with a team-high 11 rebounds to mark her 24thconsecutive double-double. She takes over the title of nation’s longest streak after DePaul’s Aneesah Morrow had her 23-game streak end Saturday in the Big East tournament.
- South Carolina finished with as many offensive rebounds (22) as defensive. Four individuals had three or more offensive rebounds, led by Boston’s five.
The Gamecocks have a week before they find out their postseason path. The NCAA women’s tournament selection show airs on Sunday, March 13 at 8 p.m. on ESPN.