The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference
The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference
SEC Tournament - Semifinal - Bridgestone Arena - Nashville, TN

1-seed South Carolina holds off gritty 4-seed Rebels

266 days ago
AP

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Aliyah Boston posted her 23rd consecutive double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds as top-ranked South Carolina beat Mississippi 61-51 on Saturday in the Southeastern Conference women's tournament semifinals.

The Gamecocks (29-1) won their 17th straight to reach their seventh tournament championship game in eight seasons. They will play either No. 18 Tennessee or seventh-seeded Kentucky on Sunday looking for South Carolina's third straight title and seventh overall.

South Carolina improved to 7-2 in the semifinals by using its size and length to smother Ole Miss for the third time this season in showdowns between the SEC's top two scoring defenses. The Gamecocks lead the SEC allowing 51.2 points, and they held the Rebels to 30 points through three quarters.

Ole Miss (23-8) tried to rally, scoring 20 of the first 25 points in the fourth to get within 58-50 on Shakira Austin's three-point play with 1:40 left. That was the last bucket the Rebels would make as South Carolina clinched their latest berth in the title game.

Boston, the two-time SEC Defensive Player of the Year, also had three blocks and three steals.

This was the first time in the semifinals for Ole Miss (23-8) since 1993 who last played in the tournament championship in 1983.

Angel Baker led the Reels with 20 points. Austin finished with 16.

This was a rematch of the regular season finale that South Carolina won in Oxford last weekend. The Rebels scored the first four points of this game, and Madison Scott blocked a shot by South Carolina guard Zia Cooke for a strong start by Ole Miss.

Victaria Saxton got a steal and finished of a slow-motion breakaway with a layup that tied it at 4. Boston scored the next four, and South Carolina led 14-8 after the first quarter. Baker scored 10 in the second to keep Ole Miss close, though the Gamecocks led 33-22 at halftime.

South Carolina outscored the Rebels 20-8 for a 53-30 lead going into the fourth where Ole Miss made it very interesting until the final 90 seconds.

NOTABLE

  • South Carolina's defense has not allowed an opponent to reach 60 points in a game since Jan. 6 at LSU, a span of 14 games.
  • Defense powered up the offense in the first half; of the team's 33 points in the first 20 minutes, 17 came directly off Ole Miss' nine turnovers. The Gamecocks had six first-half steals to account for those Rebel turnovers, Victaria Saxton had three and Aliyah Boston had two.
  • Saxton finished the game with a career-high four steals and one block. That block moved her up to sixth in program history for a career, now with 164 swats.
  • South Carolina's quartet of posts were efficient in the first half. Along with Saxton and Boston, Laeticia Amihere and Kamilla Cardoso all combined to hit 7-of-10 shots from the field and 7-of-8 from the free throw line.
  • For the game, that quartet finished 14-of-21 for 39 points.
  • The Gamecocks also used a tried-and-true method for offensive success - rebounding. The team used seven offensive rebounds in the first half to score 13 second-chance points while Ole Miss had zero.
  • Saxton got the Gamecocks off to a good start in a big third quarter, scoring the team's first six points and adding a rebound, block and steal in just the first four minutes. South Carolina ended the period with a 20-8 scoring advantage to break the game open.
  • Between the second and third quarters, the Gamecocks made 57 percent of their field goal attempts (16-28).
  • South Carolina went without a made field goal in the fourth quarter but held off Ole Miss thanks to another solid free throw shooting performance. The Gamecocks hit 8-of-12 attempts at the line in the fourth with four different players hitting their shots. For the game, South Carolina made 17-of-22, its second game in a row with 15 or more makes with a percentage of 75 percent or better.
  • Outside of leading the team in scoring and rebounding over the first two games of the tournament, Boston also has eight steals and five blocks in that same span. 

UP NEXT

The Gamecocks will face the winner of Kentucky and Tennessee in the championship game Sunday afternoon. Tip time is scheduled for 2 p.m. ET and the game will air on ESPN.