Gamecock Women in First Championship Final


The past few seasons the South Carolina Gamecocks women’s basketball team has continually been seeing their success grow year after year.  Not only have they just improved the past few seasons, they’ve made it to the NCAA tournament and both the coach and several players have won multiple awards.  But this year is different, and the expectations that come with that are different too.

The Lady Gamecocks finished the season at 27-2, finished 15-1 in the SEC tied for the regular-season title, their coach Dawn Staley won the SEC coach of the year, Tiffany Mitchell won the SEC player of the year for the second consecutive year, and A’ja Wilson won the S EC freshman of the year. All that doesn’t even mention the fact that Tiffany, A’ja, and Aleighs Welch were all SEC first team.  The Gamecocks were number one in the nation for several months and they’re currently number three. So the expectations were high when the season started and are definitely even higher now.

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The women showed the fight they have in them, coming back to win Saturday after being down for much of the first and second half to win by 20 over LSU. But today brings not just a new challenge, but a much bigger one. Today at 3:30pm South Carolina faces off against Tennessee for the SEC championship.   Tennessee has a history of success and specifically has won the SEC championship four of the last five years. So they know what to expect in a big game like this.   Unfortunately for the Gamecocks it’s not quite the same. Some of the younger players have shown their nerves when playing in the bigger games this season. Whether it was against #1 Connecticut, or even just yesterday against LSU Coach Staley had to change out the lineup to give the Gamecocks a chance as some of the mainstays of the season were struggling.

If the Gamecocks are to win the championship today, which would be their first ever, Coach Staley is going to have to take the same approach. She’s going to have to be willing to change the game plan midstream and use whatever players are hot and working well together to win the game.  Tennessee is not LSU. They cannot afford to get down for much of the game and expect to come back to win against a team like this. They’re going to have to play turnover free ball, great defense, and hit their shots.

But the South Carolina team is special and today will be the next step in proving that.