COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - South Carolina returns home a champion. The top-ranked Gamecocks secure the SEC regular-season championship with a Sunday road win at (14)Kentucky, 67-58. It marks the program’s fifth conference title in the last seven seasons.
A 15-0 run midway through the first quarter provided enough separation to keep the Wildcats at arm's length for the entire game.
The Gamecocks trailed 13-10 after a pair of Kentucky free throws at the 5:26 minute mark of the opening frame. That's when junior forward LeLe Grissett checked in for Brea Beal, who happened to pick up her second foul of the contest. With Grissett in, the Gamecocks defense frustrated the Wildcats. Kentucky went without a made field goal for the final 5:57 of the quarter.
Grissett provided a boost on offense. She scored six of her ten points in the opening frame, as the Gamecocks held a 27-14 lead after one. South Carolina would carry a ten-point lead into the locker room.
Freshman guard Zia Cooke overpowered the 'Cats in closing time. She shot six-for-six from the field in the final two quarters. Cooke scored 13 of her 20 points in the second half. The clutch Cooke helped to guide the Gamecocks to the conference crown, along with securing the No. 1 seed in the upcoming SEC Women’s Tournament.
- Zia Cooke: 20 points
- Ty Harris: 10 points, 6 assists, and two steals
- Aliyah Boston: 6 points, 11 rebounds, and three blocks
WITH THE WIN:
- Dawn Staley earns her 300th victory at South Carolina
- Gamecocks clinch SEC regular-season championship for the fifth time in the last seven seasons
- South Carolina secures No. 1 seed in the SEC Women's Tournament in Greenville
- Gamecocks have now won 11 of the previous 12 meetings against Kentucky