Florida had literally a tall task on Sunday. The Gamecocks lead the SEC in blocks, averaging over seven per game. The Gators entered the game as the third leading scoring team in the SEC, averaging over seventy five points per game, shooting forty four percent per game, good for fourth in the conference. It was offense vs. defense in a game where breast cancer victims were being recognized all throughout the game for their fight against breast cancer.
Florida, who hold a season series sweep over #15 Kentucky, came out flying at the start, scoring the first seven points in the game in a little over two minutes. Cassie Peoples had five of the first seven Gators' points.
More importantly, South Carolina imposed its length on Florida. In the first six minutes, the Gamecocks had five blocks, two by Coates and two by Elem Ibiam. As a result, the Gators went nearly eight minutes without a field goal.
Florida finally broke the drought on a Jatera Bonds layup to cut the lead to one, 10-9. The Gators would keep the game close over the next three and a half minutes. Peoples would hit a three to keep Florida within two, 19-17 with a little under seven minutes left in the half.
After a very nice halftime event that recognized fans that had survived breast cancer or had a family member who had breast cancer, the Gamecocks extended their lead to sixteen, 46-30 with a little under thirteen minutes left. Tiffany Mitchell was responsible for five baskets in the first seven plus minutes of the second half, scoring on three layups and assisting on two other field goals. It looked like the game was about over.
But that's as close as Florida got the rest of the way as South Carolina outscored them 20-12 over the last four minutes and forty nine seconds. Mitchell and Coates scored fourteen of the Gamecocks final twenty points as South Carolina won its ninth game in a row, a hard fought 69-55 contest.
With the win, the Gamecocks moved to 25-2 and 13-1 in the SEC. After Texas A&M lost to Kentucky, the Gamecocks clinched at least a tie for the SEC Regular Season Championship, the first in the history of the program. The Gamecocks can win the SEC Regular Season Championship outright with a win over Georgia at home on Thursday, February 27.
Sounds like a good night to watch a team clinch its first outright championship.