Greenville, SC — We had a rematch on our hands in more ways than one when South Carolina and Mississippi State met in the championship round of the SEC tournament.
In the same position last year, South Carolina beat Mississippi State 66-52. And about a month ago, the two faced off in Columbia where the Gamecocks narrowly escaped 64-61.
So when they tipped off Sunday, the Bulldogs wanted Gamecock blood. Unfortunately, they didn't get it. South Carolina prevailed again 59-49.
At first, it looked like the Gamecocks would run away with it -- Mississipi State didn’t hit its stride at first. But after drawing foul after foul, it crept up and was neck-and-neck with South Carolina at the close of the first quarter, 14-13. That’s when it started looking like a championship round.
Kaela Davis’ shot from downtown got the entire arena on its feet and put the Gamecocks up 23-17 with 5:16 remaining in the second quarter.
South Carolina was up 29-26 at the close of the half as they inched closer to winning their third consecutive Southeastern Conference title.
Mississippi State closed in on gained on South Carolina in the third. A’ja Wilson, normally the energy for the Gamecocks, looked visibly frustrated as her team missed wide open shots, missed the offensive rebound, or fouled the Bulldogs one too many times.
The Bulldogs fed off that frustration. Morgan William was the difference maker in the third with her eight points. The score was 45-40 with Mississippi State up at the close of the quarter.
Davis and Wilson came out guns blazing in the fourth with Davis’ three-pointer and Wilson’s block and defensive rebound. Wilson drew the foul and was at the line at the 8:57 mark, where she tied the game at 45-all.
Tyasha Harris sank a three-point from downtown with 3:57 still on the clock, followed by a layup from Davis.
South Carolina was playing like they wanted to win, but the Bulldogs wouldn’t let up just yet with 3:07 left.
With about a minute left, the Gamecocks held onto the ball as Allisha Gray sank a three and Davis headed to the line for two, pulling the score to 59-49.
South Carolina did it: the Gamecocks walked away with their third consecutive SEC title.