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Women's Hoops Starts Tournament Defense Friday
Women's Basketball  . 

Women's Hoops Starts Tournament Defense Friday

#1/1 SOUTH CAROLINA (27-1, 15-1) VS ARKANSAS  (17-12, 7-9) OR MISSOURI (18-11, 7-9)


  • The Gamecocks are chasing their seventh SEC Tournament title. After opening their careers with tournament titles in 2020 and 2021, this year’s junior class looks to keep pace with A’ja Wilson, who is the only player in SEC history to win the tournament every year of her career.
  • South Carolina’s 11 wins over ranked opponents this season leads the nation, and includes eights wins over teams ranked in the AP top 10 at the time of the game (five against current AP top-10 teams). Six of the 11 games were on the road or at a neutral site. No other nationally ranked team has even played 11 games against a ranked opponent.
  • National Player of the Year candidate Aliyah Boston got her first round of crowns this season with the SEC coaches tapping her for SEC Player and Defensive Player of the Year, extending her streak of at least a share of the latter award to three seasons. The dual awards reflect her impact on the full 94 feet of the basketball court. According to Her Hoop Stats, Boston is the only player in the nation ranked in the top 30 in player offensive rating (9th, 131.6) and defensive rating (3rd, 63.6). She leads the nation in player efficiency rating (45.3) and win shares (12.6), a metric in which the gap between her and second place is equal to that between second and 14th.
  • First-Team All-SEC selection Destanni Henderson enters the SEC Tournament on a tear. The senior point guard averaged 14.6 points on 47.7 percent shooting and a 2.71 assist-to-turnover ratio over the last five games of the regular season.
  • Feeling the snub of again missing out on a spot on lists recognizing the best defenders, junior guard Brea Beal has shown she is a reliable offensive weapon as well. The powerful guard is hitting the peak of her versatility at the perfect time for the Gamecocks. Over the last five games, Beal averaged 6.6 points on 40.6 percent shooting, including 36.4 percent from 3-point range, to go with her 6.6 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.0 blocks per game.
  • In the month of February, four Gamecocks off the bench averaged at least 4.0 points, led by veterans Laeticia Amihere (5.0 ppg) and LeLe Grissett (4.9 ppg). A solid defender, freshman Bree Hall has shown flashes of her offensive abilities with 4.4 points per game last month, and Kamilla Cardoso added 4.0 points per game in her three February outings.


+2.0 – In the last five games, the Gamecocks had a +2.0 turnover margin after entering the stretch at -1.9.

3 – Aliyah Boston has been the SEC Defensive Player of the Year each of her three seasons.

+3.5 – The Gamecocks’ bench scored 3.5 points per game more in February than in January.

5 – South Carolina has played just five games this season with all 15 of its players available.

13.3 – Aliyah Boston’s 13.3 rebounds per SEC game this season topped A’ja Wilson’s program record.

23.6 – In February, South Carolina outscored teams by 23.6 ppg, including a +13.8 margin on SEC top-7 foes.


The Arkansas Series
South Carolina is 23-18 all-time against Arkansas after winning 15 of the last 16 meetings, including the last five. Under head coach Dawn Staley, South Carolina is 16-4 against Arkansas.

In their 2021-22 regular-season meeting, South Carolina steadily inched away from the Razorbacks in the first three quarters en route to a 61-52 victory in Fayetteville. Aliyah Boston and Destanni Henderson each poured in 19 points, and Victaria Saxton swatted six blocked shots as the Gamecock defense held Arkansas under 30.0 percent shooting in the first and third quarters.

The Missouri Series
South Carolina leads the overall series 8-4, including a 7-4 mark since Missouri joined the SEC in the 2012-13 season. All four Tiger victories have come at Mizzou Arena.

In their 2021-22 regular-season meeting, the Tigers delivered the Gamecocks’ first loss of the season, 70-69 in overtime in Columbia, Mo. A hot-shooting second quarter pushed the Mizzou to a seven-point halftime lead, and an Aliyah Boston putback knotted the game at 64-64 late in the fourth. In overtime, the Gamecocks jumped out to a five-point lead, but the shooting went cold and Lauren Hansen delivered at the rim to deliver the win for the Tigers.

SEC Tournament Take
South Carolina is 26-24 all-time in the SEC Tournament since joining the league for the 1991-92 season. In her first 13 trips to the event, head coach Dawn Staley is 23-7 with six championships, all coming in the last seven years.

The Gamecocks have reached the tournament semifinals eight times in the last nine seasons and have won the tournament in each of their six trips to the championship game. With titles in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018, South Carolina is the only program in league history to win four consecutive SEC Tournament title, and the Gamecocks added two more titles in 2020 and 2021.

The Gamecocks’ overall leading scorers are also the current team’s top performers in their SEC Tournament careers. Aliyah Boston leads the way at 14.0 points per game with Destanni Henderson (13.0) and Zia Cooke (12.2) just behind. Henderson has twice been named to the All-Tournament Team, and Boston was the 2021 Tournament MVP.

Neutral Stance
The Gamecocks are 148-94 (.612) all-time on a neutral court. South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley is 65-26 in games played at neutral sites, including a 27-11 mark in regular-season games.

That neutral-site record includes a 38-15 mark in postseason play.

Awards Season
SEC Regular-Season Champion South Carolina saw three “of the Year” awards and three All-SEC positions come their way in voting by the league’s coaches.

Head coach Dawn Staley collected her fifth SEC Coach of the Year award after leading her team to its sixth regular-season title in the last nine years and within one point of the program’s third perfect 16-0 record.

Junior forward Aliyah Boston grabbed the first SEC Player of the Year award of her career and is a perfect three-for-three in SEC Defensive Player of the Year voting, having earned at least a share of the award in each of her first two seasons as well.

Senior guard Destanni Henderson made her first appearance on an All-SEC team, joining Boston on the first team. Junior guard Zia Cooke grabbed a spot on the second team, her second season earning All-SEC status.

Bench Boom
With one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the country and a veteran starting lineup accustomed to playing together, head coach Dawn Staley saw her bench languishing more than she had anticipated given the volume of elite high school talent sitting there. As the SEC season wore on, she adjusted her approach to the less experienced group, and February began bearing the fruits of that change.

In seven games in February, the Gamecock bench averaged 3.5 more points and 7.1 more minutes per game than it had in January. The group’s 23.0 points per game represented 31.2 percent of the team’s total scoring in February, compared to just 27.8 percent of the January offense. The February increases are even more impressive when considering that the two most experienced bench players – junior Laeticia Amihere and sophomore Kamilla Cardoso – missed two and four games, respectively, in that month.