Top-ranked South Carolina (29-1) survived a late run by Ole Miss (23-8) to win 61-51 and advance to the SEC Tournament championship game.
This was also South Carolina’s third win over Ole Miss this season and their second win against the Rebels in the last six days.
Early on, it looked like we were in for a defensive battle. Ole Miss got three quick blocks and forced two turnovers on route to a 4-0 Rebel lead through nearly three minutes played in the first quarter.
Then – as the Gamecocks usually do – they went on a run.
Ole Miss turned the ball over seven times and South Carolina went on a 14-2 run after the early deficit to take a 14-8 lead into the first intermission.
While the Rebels did hang on for the remainder of the first half, the flood gates were opened in the third quarter.
The Gamecocks started the second half on a 13-3 run, and the Rebels were only able to score three points through the first six minutes. Ole Miss finished the quarter with a field goal percentage of 13% while South Carolina shot the lights out, scoring 20 while shooting 56%.
With USC’s lead stretching to as large as 25 points, the game looked like it was heading toward a blowout.
Well, it didn’t end up that way.
The Rebels responded to a rough third quarter with a 22-5 run, cutting the lead to as little as eight points. Ole Miss star Shakira Austin also scored 11 of her 16 points in the final quarter.
Although the Cocks were able to close it out, they failed to make a single basket in the quarter, missing all five of their shots. South Carolina also turned the ball over eight times in the quarter.
If it wasn’t for their domination on the boards, their ability to score inside, their stellar defense (with the exception of the fourth quarter) and their ability to draw fouls then make free throws, the Gamecocks could have packed their bags early, but they still live to see another day.
To end on a high note, Aliyah Boston continued to be an absolute menace, getting another double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds.
The Gamecocks hope to add another trophy to their collection tomorrow afternoon at 2 p.m. when they play either Kentucky or Tennessee for the SEC Tournament championship.