Gamecocks Open SEC Tournament Play Friday
COLUMBIA, S.C. – No. 1/1 South Carolina women’s basketball opens play in the 2023 SEC Tournament on Fri., Mar. 3. The Gamecocks’ quarterfinal game is set for noon at Bon Secours Wellness Arena, facing with eighth-seeded Arkansas or No. 9 seed Missouri.
The Arkansas Series
South Carolina leads the overall series 25-18 after winning the last seven meetings with Arkansas. The Gamecocks are 3-2 against the Razorbacks in the SEC Tournament, including wins in the 2020 and 2022 events.
In their Jan. 22 meeting this season, South Carolina blew open an eight-point game with a 28-7 second quarter.
The Missouri Series
South Carolina leads the series 9-4 after winning five of the last six meetings with the Tigers. The two teams have never met in the SEC Tournament.
In the regular-season meeting in January, South Carolina claimed an 81-50 victory. After a tight first quarter, the Gamecocks dominated the middle quarters with a 28-11 showing in the second and a 22-9 margin in the third. South Carolina scored 29 second-chance points on 23 offensive rebounds, winning the overall board battle 52-22 with seven Gamecocks grabbing at least five each.
By the Numbers
2 – South Carolina is the only team with two Naismith Defensive POY semifinalists.
7 – South Carolina has won seven SEC Regular-Season titles in the last 10 years.
22.3 – The Gamecocks are out-scoring opponents in the paint by 22.3 points per game.
25 – South Carolina’s bench has outscored its opponent’s bench 25 times this season.
49.1 – The Gamecocks rebound an NCAA-best 49.1 percent of their own missed shots.
78 – In the SEC, Aliyah Boston’s 78 career double-doubles trails just Sylvia Fowles’ SEC-record 86.
South Carolina’s unanimous No. 1 ranking in both polls extends to the NET as well. The Gamecocks’ 22 wins over NET top-100 teams leads the nation as do their 13 true road wins, three of which came against ranked opponents – all currently ranked in the top 10.
The Gamecocks’ win over Georgia on Sunday was their 31st-consecutive SEC regular-season win, marking the fourth-longest such streak in league history and the longest by a team other than Tennessee. It also sealed the fourth perfect regular-season in SEC history – the first at South Carolina.
Head coach Dawn Staley’s SEC success puts her in the pantheon of league legends Andy Landers and Pat Summitt. Her 183 SEC wins trails just those two (Landers, 273; Summitt 306). Staley’s 12.2 SEC wins per season is the best average in league history and her .769 SEC winning percentage (183-55) is second only to Summitt (.874). Staley’s seven SEC regular-season title match Landers’ total and her six SEC Tournament titles eclipses his four.
It’s no secret that the Gamecocks’ success is built from the paint out on both sides of the ball. South Carolina averages 44.8 points in the paint per game, accounting fro 55.0 percent of their total offense. Defensively, it has allowed opponents to shoot just 36.9 percent in the paint and leads the nation in block percentage, swatting away 20.3 percent of opponents’ 2-point field goal attempts.
SEC Player of the Year Aliyah Boston continues to lead the SEC in both offensive and defensive player rating, according to Her Hoop Stats. She is the only player in the nation ranking in the top five of both categories.
SEC Sixth Woman of the Year Kamilla Cardoso made a strong closing case for that award, averaging 10.0 points, 12.0 rebounds and 2.2 blocks over the last five games.
First-Team All-SEC guard Zia Cooke’s efficient senior season continues with 18.8 points per game on 44.3 percent shooting over her last five outings. The Gamecocks’ leading scorer was named a finalist for the Ann Meyers Drysdale Shooting Guard of the Year Award this week
Senior Kierra Fletcher has found space to add her own offensive punch to the Gamecock lineup lately. Her 11.5 points per game last week came on 70.0 percent shooting, including 2-of-2 from 3-point range, and came with 2.5 assists per game as well.
The Gamecocks are 155-95 (.620) all-time on a neutral court. South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley is 72-27 in games played at neutral sites (.727), including a 44-16 (.733) mark in postseason play.
SEC Regular-Season Champion South Carolina also had the most players recognized by the league’s coaches in program history and matched its record for most “of the Year” awards in a season.
Aliyah Boston led the way, repeating as SEC Player of the Year and making it a career sweep with her fourth SEC Defensive Player of the Year award and fourth appearance on the All-SEC First Team. She is just the third Gamecock all-time to make an All-SEC team all four times and the second to make the first team every year.
Zia Cooke joined her on the All-SEC First Team, her third All-SEC selection and second time on the first team.
Kamilla Cardoso earned her first SEC postseason awards, claiming Sixth Woman of the Year honors and a spot on the All-SEC Second Team.
Brea Beal on the All-Defensive Team and Raven Johnson on the All-Freshman Team gave South Carolina five players with awards, besting the four total players honored by SEC coaches in 2014, 2015 and 2020.
Dawn Staley picked up her sixth SEC Coach of the Year recognition, giving the Gamecocks four “of the Year” awards, which matched the 2014 and 2015 team’s total.
South Carolina’s paint dominance predates the 2019 signing class, but the Gamecocks have certainly perfected it since the group’s arrival, scoring 53.5 percent of their points in the paint since the start of the 2019-20 season.
The 2019-20 team had the highest final paint points average (42.4 ppg) in this stretch, but the 2020-21 team posted the highest percentage of paint points (.551).
So far this season, the Gamecocks are posting 44.8 points per game in the paint, which accounts for 55.0 percent of their offense.
Defensively, South Carolina controls the paint as well, allowing opponents to shoot just 36.9 percent in the lane to average 22.5 points in that area. The Gamecocks have been out-scored in the paint just three times this season – at #2/2 Stanford (40-36), at Mississippi State (32-28) and at #5/4 UConn (42-38).