WCBK

No. 4 South Carolina seeking outright SEC title

Share This Story

   
 

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP)

(Eds: With AP Photos.)By PETE IACOBELLIAP Sports Writer

South Carolina is looking to launch its biggest celebration of the year Thursday night when it takes on Georgia.

The fourth-ranked Gamecocks (25-2, 13-1 SEC) can wrap up the outright Southeastern Conference championship with a victory and finish 16-0 at home.

Coach Dawn Staley said her players' focus has been as even-keeled as always, despite the good feelings that followed clinching a share of the SEC crown Sunday after 17th-ranked Texas A&M lost to No. 12 Kentucky.

''Obviously, there's a lot at stake and I'm quite sure our players understand that,'' Staley said Wednesday. ''But in front of us, they've put up a united front and a focused look.''

That's how South Carolina has risen all season long, particularly at home where they can complete their first undefeated season since going 11-0 in 1978-79.

This past Sunday, the Gamecocks drew 10,547 people - the second largest crowd for women's basketball since the 18,000-seat building opened in 2002 - to watch them earn a share of their first-ever SEC title with a 69-55 win over Florida.

About an hour later, Staley was smiling again when word of the Kentucky victory came in. Practices have been solid the past few days and Staley believes her team knows there's more work ahead.

Georgia, usually near the top of the SEC standings, has struggled after going 0-4 to start the league season. Staley says the Bulldogs will certainly try and play the role of spoilers and prevent South Carolina from celebrating at home at their expense.

''We're prepping our players to play the (Georgia) team that has been at the top,'' she said.

Should the Gamecocks come up short against Georgia (18-9, 6-8), they'll have a final chance to claim the title by themselves at No. 10 Tennessee on Sunday.

South Carolina is the league's only one-loss team. Texas A&M and Tennessee are next with three SEC losses each. The Gamecocks would need to lose both contests this week while one or both of its pursuers win out for a tie at the top.

Gamecocks leading scorer Tiffany Mitchell says the players are excited about the opportunity to win the championship alone. ''I don't think we're too good with sharing,'' she said. ''I think we'd much rather have it by ourselves.''

Some of the players left the arena Sunday before news about clinching part of the title came in. That's when the texts from coaches and friends about the result flooded her phone.

It was a moment Staley told Mitchell, a sophomore averaging 15.3 points a game, to prepare for during recruiting two years ago. Mitchell believed the Gamecocks were on the rise so the Parade All-American from Charlotte, N.C., signed on.

''I kind of wanted to be a part of all of that,'' she said. ''I know we have a huge home crowd coming out for this last game so it would be fun to win it on our court.''

Earlier Wednesday, Staley was named head coach for the U.S. women's under-18 team at the FIBA Americas championships this summer. Should America finish in the top four, it would qualify for the U19 World Championships next year.

Staley won three Olympic gold medals as a player and was an assistant coach when the American team won gold in 2008.

''I've given probably over half of my life to the organization,'' Staley said of USA Basketball. ''I love to coach and be a part of because when you represent the United States, there's one common goal and that's to win gold.''

Staley's got a goal for her Gamecocks - to win as much as possible.

Another victory would be Staley's most in a season so far at South Carolina and she's pointing to even more in the SEC and NCAA tournaments as the vision she came with six years ago is unfolding.

''A win is you see the fruits of your labor become reality,'' Staley said. ''It is a beautiful thing.''

Related Stories

Member Comments

Please note by clicking on "Post comment" you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Use and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Be Polite. Inappropriate posts may be removed by the moderator.

powered by


FOX SPORTS Videos

Why is LeSean McCoy practicing blindfolded? Posted: Aug 12, 2014
Donovan McNabb and Mike Garafolo talk Eagles RB 'Shady' McCoy.

Could Richie Incognito get another NFL job? Posted: Aug 12, 2014
Donovan McNabb and Mike Garafolo talk Richie Incognito.

Byron Scott: No Laker Can Beat Me In Horse - @TheBuzzeronFOX Posted: Aug 12, 2014
The Lakers new coach is still pretty confident in his shot. Kobe Bryant might ha...

WCBK Headlines

  • Power Ranking

  • Power Ranking

  • Power Ranking

  • Power Ranking

Fox Sports Store

    itemName itemURL imageSrc price itemDescription
    Zephyr Florida Gators White DH Fitted Hat http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Florida_Gators/browse/featuredproduct/21914/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_21000/DS_21914_xl.jpg&w=100 19.95 Zephyr Florida Gators White DH Fitted Hat
    Zephyr Florida Gators Royal Blue DH Fitted Hat http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Florida_Gators/browse/featuredproduct/50646/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_50000/DS_50646_xl.jpg&w=100 19.95 Zephyr Florida Gators Royal Blue DH Fitted Hat
    Ohio State Buckeyes Scrub Top - Gray http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Ohio_State_Buckeyes/browse/featuredproduct/60808/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_60000/FF_60808_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Ohio State Buckeyes Scrub Top - Gray
    Nike Texas Longhorns #7 Burnt Orange Replica Football Jersey http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Texas_Longhorns/browse/featuredproduct/62039/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_62000/FF_62039_xl.jpg&w=100 59.95 Nike Texas Longhorns #7 Burnt Orange Replica Football Jersey
    Ohio State Buckeyes Scarlet Scrub Top --- http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Ohio_State_Buckeyes/browse/featuredproduct/67086/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_67000/FF_67086_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Ohio State Buckeyes Scarlet Scrub Top ---
    Michigan Wolverines Ash Vertical Arch Logo T-shirt http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Michigan_Wolverines/browse/featuredproduct/70367/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_70000/DS_70367_xl.jpg&w=100 12.95 Michigan Wolverines Ash Vertical Arch Logo T-shirt
    Florida State Seminoles Ash Vertical Arch Logo T-shirt http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Florida_State_Seminoles/browse/featuredproduct/70625/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_70000/DS_70625_xl.jpg&w=100 12.95 Florida State Seminoles Ash Vertical Arch Logo T-shirt
    Texas Longhorns Ash Vertical Arch Logo T-shirt http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Texas_Longhorns/browse/featuredproduct/70626/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_70000/DS_70626_xl.jpg&w=100 12.95 Texas Longhorns Ash Vertical Arch Logo T-shirt
    Kentucky Wildcats Ash Vertical Arch Logo T-shirt http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Kentucky_Wildcats/browse/featuredproduct/70627/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_70000/DS_70627_xl.jpg&w=100 12.95 Kentucky Wildcats Ash Vertical Arch Logo T-shirt
    Ohio State Buckeyes Ash Vertical Arch Logo T-shirt http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Ohio_State_Buckeyes/browse/featuredproduct/70628/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_70000/DS_70628_xl.jpg&w=100 12.95 Ohio State Buckeyes Ash Vertical Arch Logo T-shirt