In the final game for four South Carolina seniors, Gamecock women's basketball fell to No. 5 Mississippi State Bulldogs by a score of 68-64.
The Gamecocks outscored the Bulldogs in the first half with a 39-32 lead at halftime, highlighted by a three point shot at the buzzer by junior guard Tyasha Harris.
However, it was the third quarter that ended up being the difference in the game that clinched a SEC regular season title for Mississippi State.
Head coach Dawn Staley put the blame on herself, as the Gamecocks were only able to score eight points in the third quarter against the Bulldogs.
“The third quarter was probably a quarter that I have to take a huge responsibility on,” Staley said. “I thought we could take advantage of some matchups. And then I just confused our players. It basically just comes down to that.”
In that third quarter, South Carolina only made 22.2 percent of its shots from the field by only making four of its 18 attempts. The Gamecocks also missed all of their three-point shots and free throws.
With 8:51 left in the third quarter, the Gamecocks also failed to take advantage of a technical foul on the Mississippi State bench. Senior Bianca Cuevas-Moore missed both of her free throws to continue the scoring drought for South Carolina.
Despite a third quarter full of mistakes and missed opportunities, the Gamecocks were able to cut the Mississippi State lead to 66-64 in the fourth quarter with 10 seconds remaining in the game.
However, the Gamecocks could not get a rebound on defense, allowing Mississippi State to hit two of their final four free throws to secure their first win at Colonial Life Arena since 2010.
Even with the loss, Staley is proud of what the four seniors, who were honored before the game, have been able to do to rewrite South Carolina women’s basketball history.
“This particular senior class has an incredible body of work. They’ve helped us win a national championship, they’ve helped us do something that no other team in this conference has done, which is win four consecutive SEC championships,” Staley said.
Had the Gamecocks won, they would have had a share of the SEC regular season title. Mississippi State clinched that title on Sunday; however, Staley is hopeful the seniors on the team can add to their already long list of accomplishments, highlighted by four SEC championships and one national championship.
“Hopefully we can send them out with some kind of hardware,” Staley said.
With the regular season over, South Carolina will have a record of 21-8 (13-3 SEC) going into the SEC Tournament. The Gamecocks will either play the No. 10 seed Arkansas Razorbacks or No. 7 seed Georgia Bulldogs at Bon Secours Arena in Greenville, South Carolina, on March 8.
The game will be televised on the SEC Network.