The South Carolina women’s basketball team defeated Ole Miss 61-51 in the SEC tournament semifinals on Saturday. The win puts the Gamecocks in the conference championship game, a game the team has reached in seven of the last eight seasons.
Junior forward Aliyah Boston led the way for the No. 1 team in the country finishing with 15 points and 12 rebounds to extend her streak to 23 consecutive double-doubles. Boston was the only Gamecock to score double figures.
“We came into this tournament knowing that we wanna make it to Sunday and win the entire tournament,” Boston said following the semifinal win.
The first quarter of the game was a low-scoring defensive battle that saw the Gamecocks emerge with a slight lead. The game opened up more in the second as the Gamecocks increased their advantage and took an 11-point lead into the half.
South Carolina finished with a significant rebound advantage, securing 44 total rebounds compared to 28 for Ole Miss. This led to a 19-4 advantage in second-chance points for the winning team.
After three quarters of play, South Carolina built its lead to 23 points, but the Rebels were not quite done. Ole Miss turned the momentum against the No. 1 seed by going on a 14-4 run that stretched from two minutes left in the third quarter through the first six minutes of the final frame.
“We’ve got to be disciplined. It’s tournament time so we’re going to get the best from our opponents, so we’ve got to be aware of that when crunch time comes,” junior forward Laeticia Amihere said.
Ole Miss outscored South Carolina 21-8 in the final quarter of play and cut what was a 23-point deficit to just 8 points with under two minutes to play. The Gamecocks were able to hold off the run and eventually emerge victoriously.
South Carolina finished with 22 turnovers, but the Rebels were only able to score 14 points off the takeaways, allowing the Gamecocks to escape with the victory despite the comeback attempt.
“Our turnovers were bad decisions, and we just have to be better as a collective group,” head coach Dawn Staley said.
Staley’s squad will now look to use the semifinal game as a learning experience in preparation for the imminent SEC tournament championship game.
“We have less than 24 hours to get ready for a SEC championship game,” Staley continued. “They’ll bounce back. There’s no doubt about them bouncing back and playing better basketball.”
South Carolina will look to secure its third straight SEC title on Sunday when the team takes on Kentucky at 2 p.m. on ESPN.