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March 7, 2015

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Team 1st 2nd Total
Louisiana State (17-13, 10-6 SEC 31 23 54
#3 South Carolina (29-2, 15-1 SEC) 27 47 74
Bonus Highlights
Post-Game Press Conference

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – No. 3/4 South Carolina used a retooled lineup to open the second half and storm past LSU 74-54 in the SEC Tournament semifinals at Verizon Arena to advance to the championship game for the first time in program history. The Gamecocks (29-2, 15-1 SEC) shook off a tough first half to shoot 78.3 percent in the second half as they rallied back from an 11-point deficit midway through the first half behind a career-high tying 15 points from junior Tina Roy.

The Gamecocks weathered a barrage of 3s from LSU’s Dashawn Harden early in the game as Alaina Coates led a 7-0 run that Roy capped with a 3-pointer from the right wing to tie the game 10-10 with 15:16 left in the half. The Tigers answered with a 14-3 surge that put the Gamecocks down by double digits at 24-13 with 8:12 to play in the half.

Aleighsa Welch started to get things back on track as she snared a pair of offensive rebounds, putting the last one back to start an 8-2 spurt. A pair of steals on the other end, one for Asia Dozier and one for Welch, kept the Lady Tigers off the board, while Coates hit a turnaround jumper in the lane. Sheila Boykin answered with a move on the right block, but the Gamecocks were starting to aggressively attack the rim, despite the sagging LSU defense. Elem Ibiam was fouled on an offensive rebound and hit both free throws to make it a 26-19 game with 4:04 left before the break.

The Gamecock defense was finally dialed in, and the offense was catching up to hit four of last five shots. A’ja Wilson hit in transition then answered another Harden 3-pointer with a step-through in the lane to get the Gamecocks within six at 29-23 with 1:35 to go. The Lady Tigers got another tough shot to fall, but South Carolina stormed into the locker room behind a transition buckets from Coates and Welch, cutting the deficit to four at 31-27.

South Carolina went with a different lineup to start the second half, opening with Olivia Gaines, Roy, Welch, Mitchell and Coates. The move paid off as the Gamecocks scrapped on defense and found weaknesses in the LSU defense to take a 36-35 lead just 4:20 into the period. Gaines kicked off the comeback with a long jumper as the teams traded baskets early. Harden drove the lane for a 35-31 LSU lead, but Roy buried a 3 and Gaines turned a steal into a layup to put the Gamecocks on top 36-31 for the first time with 15:56 to play.

Once they got on top, the Gamecocks really began to wear down the Lady Tigers. After Raigyne Moncrief tied it up 36-36 with a free throw, Roy hit another 3. Moncrief tried to rally the Lady Tigers, but Coates and Welch shut it down quickly with back-to-back buckets from the left block for Coates and three straight defensive rebounds for Welch, who added a free throw to the 5-0 spurt that put the Gamecocks up 44-38 with 12:15 to play.

The Lady Tigers lingered within four points for the next five minutes, but the Gamecocks could feel the momentum. Roy’s fourth 3 of the game launched the decisive 14-1 run that put LSU away. She kept that possession alive with an offensive rebound, and immediately after her bucket, Tiffany Mitchell, swiped a steal on the LSU in-bound play and was fouled. Her two free throws made it a 51-42 Gamecock lead with 7:17 to play. Another Lady Tiger turnover sent the Gamecocks back on offense, where Welch hit the first of two free throws. Coates picked up her teammate with the rebound off the miss and converted it into points after an assist from Roy. LSU was clearly on its heels as the Gamecock offense had found its rhythm. A Coates defensive rebound quickly led to a Welch transition layup, during which she was fouled and completed the three-point play. Danielle Ballard hit a free throw on the next possession, but Roy capped the run and slammed the door shot with an off-balance 3-pointer at the end of the shot clock that backed in for a 60-43 South Carolina lead with 5:45 to play.

South Carolina finished the game shooting 53.7 percent from the field, despite the 35.5 percent accuracy in the first half, and won the battle of the boards 36-25. Coates led the scoring with 16 points, just ahead of Roy, who posted 12 of her 15 points in the second half. Welch wrapped up the game with her third double-double of the season with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Roy and Gaines tied for team-high honors with four assists each.


South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley sent a different lineup in to start the second half, and the combination of energetic defense from Olivia Gaines and the outside shooting of Tina Roy launched the comeback right out of the locker room.

KEY STAT After opening the game shooting 26.9 percent (7-of-26), the Gamecocks closed the first half hitting 4-of-5 from the field, then went on to shoot 78.3 percent (18-of-23) in the second half.


  • Senior Aleighsa Welch reeled in four offensive rebounds among her 10 total to break the program record for career offensive boards. She now stands at 430.
  • Junior Tina Roy matched her career highs of 15 points and five made 3s, previously achieved against Presbyterian on Nov. 27, 2011.
  • Welch’s double-double was her third of the season and 22nd of her career, which ranks ninth in program history.
  • Roy made just 1-of-5 from 3-point range in the first half, but turned it around to hit 4-of-5 in the second period.


South Carolina advances to the SEC Tournament final for the first time in program history, facing the winner of the other semifinal between No. 5/5 Tennessee or No. 12/11 Kentucky. The Gamecocks have one win over each of them this season.