The South Carolina women’s basketball team earned its shot at redemption Saturday after defeating Ole Miss 80-51 in its SEC tournament semifinal.
The Gamecocks dominated the Rebels from start to finish to clinch the team’s fourth consecutive championship game appearance after losing to Kentucky in last season's championship game and winning the SEC in both 2020 and 2021.
Unlike the team’s previous matchup against Ole Miss this season, which South Carolina won in overtime, this game was never close. The Gamecocks outscored the Rebels every quarter, growing its lead from start to finish.
Five South Carolina players scored in double-figures, and senior forward Laeticia Amihere’s 17 points led the team. She shot 7-10 from the floor and added six rebounds, seven assists and three blocks to her stat line.
“L.A.’s been locked in,” head coach Dawn Staley said. “I think she sees the end of it.”
Senior forward Aliyah Boston recorded her 80th career double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds. Boston now holds the school’s all-time record with 1,432 rebounds, surpassing Sheila Foster's 1,427 rebounds from 1979 to 1982.
Junior center Kamilla Cardoso led the team in rebounds with 12 and also recorded a double-double, scoring 12 points.
“Being able to rely on anybody and call on anybody at any given moment, is a great asset to have," Amihere said.
The Gamecocks overpowered inside, scoring 54 points in the paint, outpacing the Rebels' total score for the game. Ole Miss were not nearly as productive in the paint, scoring just 20 points inside.
South Carolina continued to dominate in defense and rebounds on Saturday as they have throughout the season. The Gamecocks controlled the glass and outrebounded the Rebels 45-32.
Ole Miss recorded more offensive rebounds than South Carolina, holding a 15-12 advantage, but the Gamecocks made more use of their second-chance opportunities scoring 10 points, while the Rebels struggled and scored just 2 points from the offensive glass.
South Carolina denied shots all game on defense. The team recorded 8 blocks in the first half and 6 blocks in the second.
The Gamecocks had an efficient game shooting the ball while Rebels struggled. South Carolina hit 53% of their attempts, and Ole Miss shot just 29% from the field.
“Just being able to run the floor, getting easy baskets, is always a good thing,” Amihere said. “When you’re able to do that, then it gives you a little bit more confidence.”
Up 19 points after three quarters, South Carolina got to sit key players, allowing them to rest for tomorrow’s championship game.
South Carolina hopes to capture its seventh SEC championship win in nine years on Sunday, which would put the Gamecocks second all-time in SEC tournament wins. However, the team would still trail the record holder Tennessee by 10 titles.
South Carolina will look to avenge last year’s title game loss tomorrow at 3 p.m. as they take on Tennessee for the second time this season.