The South Carolina Gamecocks got their star back and found a win against the Lady Vols when it mattered most, eliminating 7th-seeded and 12th-ranked Tennessee from the SEC Tournament in a surprisingly drama-free 73-62 victory on Friday in Nashville, Tenn.
Entering the contest, the Gamecocks were coming off a crushing 65-46 defeat to the Lady Vols in their regular-season finale, and also had concerns about A’ja Wilson’s health. Wilson, who had missed the game in Knoxville with vertigo, was a game-time decision and didn’t take her usual place in the starting lineup. It didn’t matter, though: The three-time SEC Player of the Year scored 24 points off the bench to go with 12 rebounds to help power South Carolina into the semifinals.
Alexis Jennings turned in a crucial performance as well, putting up 19 points with 12 rebounds to help Wilson control the paint against the Lady Vols. Mikiah Herbert Harrigan, who got the start over Wilson, added 15 points of her own. After an early 3-2 Tennessee lead, the Gamecocks never trailed as the Lady Vols mustered just a 26.7% effort from the floor.
With the win, the Gamecocks’ hopes at a fourth straight SEC title stayed alive, though they’re on a collision course with undefeated Mississippi State should they reach the championship game.
Up next: South Carolina plays the winner of sixth-seeded Missouri vs. third-seeded Georgia at 7 p.m. on Saturday.