GREENVILLE, S.C. -- South Carolina made history Sunday and so did the Southeastern Conference with the first championship matchup featuring Black head coaches in the Gamecocks’ Dawn Staley and Georgia’s Joni Taylor.
“What you saw gives Black women hope,” Staley said with pride.
It was Staley’s Gamecocks who used a late run in the third quarter to take control and held on to beat the 16th ranked Bulldogs 67-62 -- continuing their unprecedented run of six SEC tourney titles in seven seasons.
Taylor was disappointed at the result, not the statement made by the two women leaders. She remembers as a high school start in Mississippi that she never saw two Black head coaches in a Power Five conference title game. Taylor is grateful young people have a different image going forward.
“You can’t dream what you can’t see,” said Taylor, in her sixth season at Georgia.
Aliyah Boston had 27 points and 10 rebounds to lead South Carolina, which only a week ago lost at No. 2 Texas A&M and watched the Aggies cut down nets in celebration of the SEC regular-season crown.
This time it was the Gamecocks, like they’ve done in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2020 and now, climbing the ladder amid the purple, white and yellow streamers and confetti to celebrate.
“We knew we didn’t want to lose,” said Boston, the tournament’s MVP with three double-double performances.
The Gamecocks (22-4), twice the country’s No. 1 team this season, struggled down the stretch with three losses in their last seven games.
South Carolina, though, righted things in a big way at the SEC tournament. It used big early runs to put away Alabama on Friday and No. 14 Tennessee on Saturday night to advance. This time, the Gamecocks broke open a tie game with a 9-0 run to close the third quarter.
The Bulldogs closed to 65-62 on Que Morrison’s 3-pointer with 14.4 seconds left. Boston then followed with a pair of foul shots and South Carolina held on for its 14th straight victory over Georgia.
That Gamecocks’ streak included eliminating the Bulldogs from four of the last five tournaments.
Morrison had 20 points to lead Georgia.