GREENVILLE, S.C. -- Kaela Davis had 23 points and A'ja Wilson scored seven of her 15 points in the fourth quarter to send No. 1 seed South Carolina to its third straight SEC Tournament crown with a 59-49 victory over No. 2 seed Mississippi State on Sunday.
The Gamecocks (27-4) entered the final period down 45-40 when Davis began the comeback with a 3-pointer and Wilson scored the next five points to put South Carolina up for good.
Mississippi State (29-4) closed within 50-49 on Roshunda Johnson's bank shot with 4:42 left. The Bulldogs, however, would not score again in losing their 10th straight -- and second consecutive SEC tourney final -- to South Carolina.
Wilson, playing without injured post partner Alaina Coates, found her dominance in the final quarter. Along with her points, the Southeastern Conference player of the year had eight of her nine rebounds and two of her four blocks in the period.
When it was over, Davis heaved the ball high into the air and the Gamecocks celebrated at midcourt to the cheers of a packed arena, located about two hours north of South Carolina's campus.
The Gamecocks joined Tennessee as the only SEC teams with three consecutive tournament titles. Tennessee, though, accomplished it twice.
Teaira McCowan had 15 points and 12 rebounds to lead Mississippi State. All-SEC first team selection Victoria Vivians had another disappointing performance for the Bulldogs, going 3-of-10 from the field for 9 points. Vivians, who averaged 16.6 points a game this season, had a total of 24 points in their three games here.
THE BIG PICTURE
Mississippi State: The Bulldogs felt the first shot in this one as the Gamecocks made their first seven baskets to take a 14-5 lead. Mississippi State's defense -- and 6-foot-7 Teaira McCowan -- kicked in after that. McCowan made it near-impossible for the Gamecocks to find Wilson underneath. The Bulldogs also got a boost from Vivians, who had two foul shots and a 3-point play in the final 68 seconds as Mississippi State cut an eight-point deficit to 29-26 at the half. The Bulldogs needed Vivians to play like the leading scorer she's been all year long.
South Carolina: Coates' absence didn't seem like it would hurt the Gamecocks much with the way Davis got started. The Georgia Tech transfer hit six of nine shots for 13 points. Once Mississippi State clamped down on Wilson, there wasn't anyone who could provide that second down-low option South Carolina is so used to. Mikiah Herbert Harrigan, a 6-2 freshman, made two of three shots but often was muscled out of position by the Bulldogs.
South Carolina and Mississippi State will await its NCAA Tournament bids.