Gamecocks vs. Rebels in SEC Semifinal Saturday
COLUMBIA, S.C. – No. 1/1 South Carolina women’s basketball will face Ole Miss in the SEC Tournament semifinals on Saturday at Bon Secours Wellness Arena. Tipoff on ESPNU is set for 4:30 p.m. ET.
The Ole Miss Series
South Carolina leads the all-time series 29-17 after winning the last 17 meetings and 19 of the 21 meetings since Dawn Staley was named head coach ahead of the 2008-09 season.
The two teams have played seven previous times in the SEC Tournament with Ole Miss holding a 4-3 edge in those games. The Gamecocks won the last two meetings at the event – 61-51 in the 2022 semifinals and 62-50 in the 2011 first round.
In this year’s regular-season meeting, South Carolina scrambled to force overtime in Oxford before dominating the final five minutes to take home a 64-57 victory.
By the Numbers
6 – Aliyah Boston is just six rebounds shy of the school record of 1,427, set by Sheila Foster (1979-82).
12 – The Gamecocks have shot at least 50.0 percent from the field 12 time this season – five more than they did in the entire 2021-22 season.
37.3 – South Carolina’s bench is scoring 37.3 points per game on 47.7 percent shooting.
Today’s game marks the second time in as many seasons that the Gamecocks and Rebels have met in the SEC Tournament semifinals. South Carolina came out with a 61-51 win in last season’s meeting in Nashville, but the Rebels hold a 4-3 edge over the Gamecocks all-time in SEC Tournament meetings.
South Carolina handed out 27 assists on 38 made field goals (.711) Friday against Arkansas. On the season, the Gamecocks assist on 53.7 percent of their made field goals, leading the SEC with 16.6 assists per game. They also lead the SEC and rank among the nation’s top 15 in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.3).
The Gamecocks averaged 78.0 points over their last five games, dropping below 73 in just one game during that stretch – at Ole Miss (Feb. 19).
South Carolina’s 18.3 offensive rebounds per game this season have yielded 19.6 second-chance points – 24.0 percent of thee total offense.
Two-time SEC Player of the Year Aliyah Boston was third on the team in assists over the last five games, handing out 2.8 per outing to go with 2.2 blocks. Her 19 double-doubles on the season rank 10th in thee program’s single-season standings and are the sixth-most in the nation this season.
Senior Brea Beal averaged 7.8 points over the last five games, including three double-figure outings, on 46.7 percent shooting. In that stretch, she led the team in assists (4.0 per game) and grabbed 5.4 rebounds per game.
Senior guard Kierra Fletcher averaged 11.7 points over the last three outings, shooting 64.7 percent (11-of-17) from the field. She added 4.3 rebounds and 2.7 assists in that stretch as well.
Senior forward Laeticia Amihere has scored 12.0 points per game over her last two outings, shooting 50.0 percent (10-of-20) from the field in that stretch.
SEC Tournament Take
South Carolina is 29-25 all-time in the SEC Tournament since joining the league for the 1991-92 season. Head coach Dawn Staley is 26-8 in the event with six championships, all coming in the last eight years.
The Gamecocks have reached the tournament championship game seven times. 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.
Aliyah Boston leads the current team in SEC Tournament production at 14.8 points and 11.5 rebounds per game. She was part of the event’s All-Tournament Team twice (2021, 2022) and was named MVP in 2022.
It’s Time to BRea-l
Often mentioned by head coach Dawn Staley as irreplaceable, senior guard Brea Beal is finally catching some of the spotlight usually reserved for her stat-performing teammates, including being a semifinalist for Naismith Defensive Player of the Year and earning a spot on the SEC All-Defensive Team.
Beal is second on the team in assists (2.6), third in rebounds (4.2) and third in blocks (1.1, 15th in the SEC). Offensively, her timely shooting has been critical to several victories and includes a team- and career-high 38.5 percent accuracy from 3-point range (30-of-78), including 16-of-43 (.372) in SEC action.
Among active SEC players, Beal ranks fifth in career rebounds at 653, second among guards. She is eighth in blocked shots (104), the highest ranking guard on the list.
The powerful guard’s trademark defense has not diminished this season. According to Synergy, Beal’s matchup has scored just 4.3 points per game on 22.7 percent shooting this season. She has yielded double-digit points just twice this season (UCLA, Nov. 29; Miss. State, Jan. 8) and has posted eight shutout games, including three in SEC action. Per Her Hoop Stats, Beal is among the top 25 in the nation in player defensive rating.
Senior Laeticia Amihere has the size, strength, agility and basketball IQ to play every position on the floor, the most versatile player she has ever coached, according to Dawn Staley. With a treasure trove of international experience – including playing in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics – the 6-foot-4 Canadian is a dynamic player with unwaivering confidence.
Averaging 6.9 points per game (fourth on the team), Amihere’s 47.3 percent shooting is a career high. She is has blocked 1.0 shots per game while also handing out 1.2 assists per game. Amihere has six double-figure scoring games this season off the bench, including 10 at #17/18 Maryland (Nov. 11) and 11 at Kentucky (Jan. 12) with nine of those points coming in the decisive fourth quarter.