No. 1 South Carolina women rout Mississippi, reach SEC final
GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP) — Laeticia Amihere scored 17 points and Aliyah Boston posted her 80th career double-double to lead No. 1 South Carolina into the SEC Tournament final for the eighth time in nine seasons with an 80-51 victory over Mississippi on Saturday.
Boston had 10 points and 11 rebounds as the Gamecocks (31-0) won their 37th straight game. They will take on either No. 4 LSU or Tennessee for the conference championship on Sunday.
South Carolina needed a great escape at Mississippi two weeks ago, trailing late before forcing overtime and keeping its perfect season intact with a 64-57 victory.
The Gamecocks took the drama out of this one early with Zia Cooke and Boston getting four points apiece and Brea Beal adding a three-point play for a 13-4 lead less than seven minutes in. They stretched the lead to 15 points by halftime and were ahead by at least 20 points much of the final two quarters.
It was the second straight year Mississippi’s tournament was ended in the semifinals by the Gamecocks.
Boston, who surpassed Sheila Foster’s school career double-double mark earlier this season, broke Foster’s career rebounding record of 1,427 that stood for more than four decades. Boston now has 1,432 in her four seasons.
South Carolina will look for its seventh tournament crown since 2015, along with a bit of payback since its last loss came in the final of this event a year ago to Kentucky.
South Carolina’s defense, third in Division I in holding opponents to 50.9 points a game, was on full display. The Rebels made just two of their first 13 shots and had eight of their attempts blocked the first 20 minutes.
Mississippi could not find an answer and matched its fewest points in a game this season.
Leading scorer Angel Baker, averaging 15.3 points coming in, was held to nine on 4-of-15 shooting. Madison Scott led the Rebels with 15 points,
Kamilla Cardoso also had a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds. Cooke finished with 14 points and Beal 13 for the Gamecocks.
Mississippi: The Rebels will make their second straight NCAA Tournament appearance after reaching the event for the first time in 15 years in 2022. Mississippi, a seventh seed, was upset in first round by South Dakota.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks certainly aren’t one of those teams that half-steps it in the conference tournament with an eye on the NCAAs. They’ve shown a versatility on offense — Victaria Saxton had 19 points to lead South Carolina on Friday and Amihere’s game-high performance here — and a lock-down mentality on defense.
Mississippi will await its NCAA Tournament destination.
South Carolina will take on No. 4 LSU or Tennessee for the SEC Tournament title Sunday.
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