With a number one seed on the line in Greenville, the South Carolina Gamecocks outscored Mississippi State by 15 points in the fourth period in a 59-49 win to capture a third straight SEC tournament title.
It was a great start by the Gamecocks, hitting their first seven shots from the floor. They jumped out to a 14-5 lead in the opening minutes. Mississippi State responded well, ending the period on an 8-0 run to cut the lead to one after the first. The second period was back and forth with both teams trading baskets. The Gamecocks held a 29-26 advantage at the half with Kaela Davis scoring 13 points.
Mississippi State owned the third period with a 19-11 advantage. Teaira McCowan led the way for the Bulldogs down low. With Alaina Coates out injured, she was able to get plenty of lay-ups and put backs during the Bulldogs third quarter run.
The fourth and final period was all Gamecocks. After being outscored by eight in the third, USC only gave up four points to the Bulldogs in the final period. Carolina held a 50-49 lead heading into the final five minutes and closed it out from there. The defense did not allow Mississippi State to score again as the Gamecocks closed the game on a 9-0 run to win by 10.
Davis led the way for the Gamecocks with 23 points on 16 shots. She hit 3-4 from beyond the arc. A’ja Wilson scored 15 and gathered nine rebounds. She did most of her damage in the second half, scoring 11 points with eight rebounds. The pair also combined for a perfect 9-9 from the free throw line.
Mississippi State could not get their shots to fall from beyond the arc. They failed to hit a three pointer (0-15) for the first time since losing to UCONN in the Sweet 16 last year. McCowan led the Bulldogs with a double-double, scoring 15 points with 12 rebounds. Morgan William was the only other player in double figures with 14 points.
The win all-but secures a number one seed in the NCAA Women’s Tournament for the Gamecocks. They’ll learn their road to the Final Four during the selection show on Monday, March 13 at 7 p.m. on ESPN.