It was a good day for South Carolina Lady Gamecocks basketball. In front of a second-best-ever crowd of 10,547 fans at the Colonial Life Arena, South Carolina notched a solid victory over Florida to bring its record to 25-2 overall and 13-1 in the SEC. The Lady Gamecocks would get more good news after their win, when Kentucky defeated Texas A&M to give the Lady Aggies their third SEC loss. The combination of events guaranteed Carolina of at least a tie for the SEC Championship. Carolina can win the title outright by defeating either UGA at home this week or Tennessee in Knoxville next weekend. Knock on wood, but the Lady Gamecocks should be sizeable favorites over UGA, and given how we've played lately, I'd be surprised if Carolina lost both. I feel good about the team's chances.
Tiffany Mitchell was the star for Carolina in this one. After struggling early on against Florida's pressure defense, she had a big second half to finish with 20 points and eight boards. Alaina Coates also had a good afternoon, scoring 16 on 5-5 from the field, and adding 12 boards and five blocks. Coates put up those numbers in only 22 minutes of play. She continues to have the look of a future All-American; she's getting better each week. I was particularly impressed by her defense in this one. Most opponents simply have a lot of trouble getting a clean shot off against her. All in all, the game wasn't a blowout, but it was one Carolina controlled for most of the affair. The Lady Gamecocks built big leads only to see Florida fight its way back, and as usual, Carolina pulled away at the end.
After the game, Dawn Staley had this to say about the feat of winning the SEC at South Carolina: "It feels great to do what most people thought we could never get done here at South Carolina." The refrain of seeking to do things never done at South Carolina is one that's been frequently heard among several of our programs lately. Kudos to Staley for being the one to finally bring home an SEC Title to a program that had yet to achieve such a milestone. Hopefully other programs will follow her lead.