No. 1 South Carolina wins seventh SEC tourney in previous 9 seasons

Dawn Staley did not hesitate just a few weeks in the past when requested if she was fearful about her staff pursuing an ideal season. She stated it wasn’t weighing on her South Carolina Gamecocks’ minds in any respect.

If the way in which they performed in successful this system’s seventh SEC match title in girls’s basketball is any indication, all the burden is on whoever is making an attempt to cease them from claiming a second consecutive nationwide championship.

The Gamecocks moved to 32-0 Sunday with a 74-58 victory over the Tennessee Lady Vols within the SEC last in Greenville, South Carolina. After an undefeated SEC common season — the third time South Carolina has executed that underneath Staley — the Gamecocks received their three SEC match video games by 27, 29 and 16 factors.

The victory in Sunday’s SEC last got here nearly a yr to the day after South Carolina’s final loss: 64-62 within the SEC match championship March 6 in Nashville. The Gamecocks misplaced that on a last-second shot by the Kentucky Wildcats, however there was no such drama this yr.

Guard Zia Cooke led South Carolina with 24 factors, whereas Aliyah Boston — the projected No. 1 choose in April’s WNBA draft — had 18 factors and 7 rebounds and was named the match’s most excellent participant.

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South Carolina would be the No. 1 total seed within the NCAA match and can host the early-round video games. They are sure to be assigned to the Greenville Regional on the similar area the place they received Sunday. It’s a home-away-from-home for the Gamecocks, simply 104 miles from their Colonial Life Arena in Columbia. So in the event that they advance to the Sweet 16, they will not have far to journey.

“I took my time today to hear it,” Staley stated of the group’s cheers Sunday. “They’re super- proud of their team and the product we put on the floor. It really helps us.”

The Gamecocks have been the top-drawing staff in girls’s faculty basketball since 2015, and they’ll preserve packing the home so long as they’re taking part in. They at the moment are six victories away from Staley’s third NCAA title with this system. Their first was in 2017.

It’s been a outstanding program construct underneath Staley, who took over as South Carolina’s head coach in 2008. All of their SEC match titles have come throughout her time there, beginning in 2015.

“We used to come to this tournament and we’re out in one day,” Staley stated. “And the season was over. It was just working toward getting to this place. We’re going to enjoy it.”

Going undefeated this season might be a primary for South Carolina. There have been 9 earlier groups from 4 applications in NCAA girls’s basketball historical past which have completed a season undefeated: the Texas Longhorns (1986), UConn Huskies (1985, 2002, 2009 2010, 2014, 2016), Tennessee (1998) and the Baylor Bears (2012).

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The Gamecocks misplaced twice final season earlier than a dominant run within the NCAA match. With so many gamers returning, South Carolina has not appeared rattled this season.

“This is an experienced group,” Staley stated. “Now I think we can just embrace who we are and play as calm and poised as we need to play, because they’ve been there. This is part of their routine, and once you have created habits going into the postseason, you find a way to adjust and navigate in a place where if you can just be who you were all season long, you can find comfort in that.”