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CHAMPS! Kentucky Upsets No. 1 South Carolina, Claims SEC Tournament Title
For the first time in 40 years, Kentucky has won the SEC Tournament title
NASHVILLE – Dre’una Edwards hit a three-pointer with 4.2 seconds remaining, lifting Kentucky past No. 1 South Carolina 64-62 on Sunday in the championship game of the Southeastern Conference Women’s Basketball Tournament.
Kentucky claimed just its second SEC Tournament title in school history. The Cats last won the postseason event in 1982.
Edwards’ three capped an 11-0 run that helped UK overcome a double-digit, fourth-quarter deficit to win. Kentucky scored 14 of the last 16 points in the game to win.
Edwards led the Cats in scoring with 27 points, 19 of which came in the second half. For the game, she made 11 of 21 from the field, including three of five from behind the arc, and both of her free throws. She added nine rebounds, an assist and a blocked shot.
Kentucky (19-11), which won for the 10th straight game, also got 18 points from All-American Rhyne Howard. The senior also had four rebounds, two assists, two steals and two blocked shots.
South Carolina (29-2) scored first on an Aliyah Boston basket but Kentucky answered on a Treasure Hunt three. After Zia Cooke hit a three for the Gamecocks, Howard tied the game on a left-side jumper. The game would also be tied at 7-7 before Boston got a layup and free throw to make it 10-7 South Carolina.
After Kentucky cut the advantage to 10-9 on an Edwards basket, South Carolina scored five in a row to grab a 15-9 edge. But Kentucky answered that with layups by Olivia Owens, Edwards and Edwards again to tie the score at 15-15.
Boston would score again to give the Gamecocks a 17-15 lead, but Kentucky got a jumper from Edwards and a free throw from Howard to take an 18-17 advantage with 1:19 left in the first. South Carolina would score the final two baskets of the period to lead 21=18 after 10 minutes of play.
Both teams had trouble scoring to start the second period. Kentucky went more than six minutes before scoring, falling behind 28-18 in the process. Robyn Benton finally ended the drought with a runner to cut the deficit to 28-20. Howard would hit a free throw to cut the deficit to seven but South Carolina got the final bucket of the half to take a 30-21 advantage into the break. Edwards led UK with eight points in the first half.
In the third period, Kentucky scored first on a three by Edwards. Boston then scored on a layup for South Carolina, but Edwards answered with a layup of her own to make it 32-26 Gamecocks. It was at that point that South Carolina went on a 7-0 run to extend the lead to 39-26 with 6:24 left in the period.
Kentucky would briefly stop the run on a pair of Edwards free throws but the South Carolina onslaught continued. The Gamecocks would score six of the next eight points to lead 45-30 with 4:45 to play in the third.
The Cats, however, mounted a run of their own to stay within striking distance. UK went on an 8-2 run to get within nine, 47-38, with 2:39 left in the third. Howard would do her best to keep the Cats close, scoring Kentucky’s last five points of the period, but South Carolina led 55-43 after three quarters.
South Carolina scored the first two points of the fourth period on a pair of Boston free throws. But Kentucky would score the next seven on layups by Edwards and Howard, then a three from Edwards, cutting the deficit to 57-50 with 6:49 to play.
The Cats would continue to chip away at the South Carolina lead. A Benton three cut it to 60-53. Then, after a Boston jumper, the Cats got a layup from Hunt, another from Howard and another from Edwards to make it 62-59 with 1:50 to play.
Kentucky got within one on another Edwards layup, this one with 1:13 to play. After a defensive stop, the Cats got possession with 43.9 seconds remaining. But South Carolina forced a turnover and took over with 18.3 seconds left.
UK fouled South Carolina’s Cooke with 16 seconds left and she missed both free throws. Kentucky called timeout with 11 seconds to go, setting up the final play where Edwards would hit the three from the top of the key to give the Cats a 64-62 lead.
South Carolina had no timeouts remaining, so the Gamecocks could only muster a half-court heave at the buzzer, that missed, on their final possession.
Kentucky will next play in the NCAA Tournament, with the opponent and location to be determined. The NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament Selection Show will be next Sunday, March 13.
Kentucky 64, No. 1/1 South Carolina 62 – FINAL
Team Records and Series Notes
- Kentucky has a 19-11 overall record this season, while South Carolina is 29-2 overall.
- South Carolina leads the all-time series against Kentucky, 37-35.
- UK is 3-2 all-time against South Carolina in the SEC Tournament.
- This was the first meeting between the two teams in the championships game.
- This is the fifth time since 1986 that UK has been the seven seed in the event.
- UK is 2-4 all-time in SEC Tournament Championships games.
- Kentucky holds a 41-42 (.494) all-time record in the SEC Tournament.
- Kyra Elzy is 5-1 in her two-year tenure in the SEC Tournament.
- This was Kentucky’s first SEC Championship game appearance since 2014.
- This was Kentucky’s second SEC Tournament Title and the first since 1982.
- This was UK’s first title at a neutral site as the 1982 team won inside Memorial Coliseum.
- Kentucky is the second lowest seed ever to win the SEC Women’s Tournament (7 seed) (Auburn won the 1997 Tournament as a 9 seed).
- Kentucky is the fourth team to defeat the No. 1 team in the AP Poll in the SEC Tournament finals (Tennessee beat No. 1 Auburn in 1988; Tennessee beat No. 1 Auburn in 1989; Tennessee beat No. 1 LSU in 2005).
- Kentucky is on an 10-game winning streak all against league foes.
- This is the longest winning streak for Kentucky against conference opponents since the 2011-12 team won 10 straight games to start league play.
- This is the longest winning streak overall for Kentucky since 2019-20.
- Kentucky is in its 48th season with a 883-568 (.608) all-time record.
- This is Kentucky’s second win ever against a team ranked No. 1 in the AP Poll (defeated No. 1 Tennessee on Jan. 26, 2006)
- Kyra Elzy is in her second season as the head coach of the Wildcats, holding a 37-20 overall record.
- Kentucky has earned the SEC automatic bid in the NCAA Tournament and will await seeding. The NCAA Tournament selection show will be Sunday, March 13 at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN.
- Kentucky used the starting combination of senior guards Rhyne Howard and Jazmine Massengill, sophomore forward Treasure Hunt and Nyah Leveretter, and freshman guard Jada Walker.
- This is the ninth time that UK has used this starting combination this season. UK is 9-0 with this combination.
- Treasure Hunt scored first for Kentucky in the game. It was the fifth time this season she has scored first.
- Dre’una Edwards was the first sub for Kentucky. It was the 10th time she has been the first Wildcat off the bench.
- Kentucky lost the opening tip. It was the 20th time that UK has lost the opening tip.
- It was a fast-paced first quarter for both teams as the Wildcats and Gamecocks with South Carolina leading 21-18 after the first quarter.
- USC was 9-of-19 from the field and 2-of-5 from 3.
- Kentucky was 8-of-17 from the field and 1-of-2 from long range.
- The Gamecocks had 14 paint points in the first quarter, while UK had six.
- Six of Kentucky’s first eight shots were assisted.
- Both teams were ice cold in the second quarter with UK going 1-of-11 from the field and South Carolina going 4-of-16.
- UK was 0-of-4 from 3 in the second quarter, while SC was 1-of-3.
- South Carolina hit just one of its last eight shots in the quarter.
- Twenty-one first-half points is the fewest for Kentucky since scoring 17 vs. South Carolina on Feb. 10 earlier this year in Lexington.
- UK also trailed by nine at halftime in that game as well, 26-17.
- South Carolina took a 30-21 lead into the break at halftime.
- SC shot 37 percent from the field in the first half, while UK shot 32 percent.
- South Carolina had a 20-8 lead in the paint in the first half.
- Second-chance points were tied 5-5 at halftime.
- South Carolina led the rebounding battle 24-15 at halftime, including a 9-4 edge in offensive rebounds.
- Both teams were better offensively in the third quarter with UK going 6-of-14 and SC 7-of-17.
- The Gamecocks won the third quarter 25-22.
- Both teams also hit two 3s in the third quarter.
- Both teams took a lot of free throws in the third quarter.
- UK was 8-of-9 and SC was 9-of-13.
- Kentucky outscored South Carolina 21-7 in the fourth quarter to earn the come-from behind win.
- Kentucky held South Carolina to their second worst shooting performance of the season (33.3% from the field) (shot 32.1% against Tennessee on Feb. 20).
- Kentucky is just the third team this season to score at least 64 points against South Carolina, and the first team to do so since Mississippi State scored 68 points on Jan. 2.
- Kentucky ended the game on 11-0 run, including a 14-2 run.
- South Carolina missed each of their last seven shots and did not score for the final 5:04 of the game.
- Rhyne Howard scored 18 points with four rebounds, two assists, two steals and two blocks.
- Rhyne Howard is the fourth Kentucky player ever to be named to the SEC All-Tournament team three times in their career (Valerie Still, 1980-1982; A’dia Mathies, 2010, 2012-2013; Makayla Epps, 2015-2017).
- Rhyne Howard is the second Kentucky player ever to be named MVP of the SEC Tournament (Valerie Still, 1982).
- Rhyne Howard scored the third most points ever by a player in a single SEC Women’s Tournament (88).
- Rhyne Howard now sits in 17th place on the SEC women’s basketball career scoring list heading into the NCAA Tournament (2,273 points).
- For her career, Howard has scored 2,273 career points sitting second in UK history in points scored. She is second all-time in Kentucky history – men’s and women’s – in points scored.
- Howard ranks second in school history in career scoring average at 20.1, while she is second in field-goals made with 786, first in career 3s made with 282 and fourth in career 3-point field-goal percentage at 38.2. She is also fourth in UK history in steals per game at 2.318.
- In 113 career games, Howard has …
- Hit at least one 3 in 98 career games, including 25 times this season.
- Made three or more 3s in 47 career games, including 10 this season.
- Made five or more 3s in 17 career games, including five times this season.
- Scored 10+ points in 101 career game, including 27 times this season.
- Scored 15+ points in 84 career games, including 25 times this season.
- Scored 20+ points in 61 career games, including 17 times this season.
- Scored 25+ points in 33 career games, including seven times this season.
- Scored 30+ points in 10 career games, including three this season.
- Led UK in scoring in 72 career games, including 18 times this season.
- Led UK in rebounding in 60 career games, including 15 times this season.
- Led UK in assists in 40 career games, including 11 times this season.
- Led UK in steals in 50 career games, including 19 times this season.
- Led UK in blocks in 45 career games, including 14 times this season.
- Has 27 career double-doubles, including 10 this season.
- Has 1 triple double.
- Dre’una Edwards scored 27 points with nine rebounds, going 11-of-21 from the field and 3-of-5 from 3.
- Dre’una Edwards scored the most points by an opposing player against South Carolina in a single game (27) since Feb. 8, 2021, when UConn’s Paige Bueckers scored 31 points.
- Dre’una Edwards scored the second most points ever by a Kentucky player in an SEC Tournament championship game (27) (Valerie Still scored 33 in the 1982 finals).
- Kentucky is 10-0 this season when Edwards scores 20 or more points.
- Edwards is the first Kentucky player to hit a last-second shot to win a game since Rhyne Howard did it in December 2019 at Cal.
- Dre’una Edwards’ three-pointer with 4.2 seconds left is the second latest game-winning shot in the SEC Women’s Tournament championship game (Georgia’s Kelly Miller foul-line jumper with 0.8 seconds left beat Vanderbilt 62-60 in the 2001 SEC Women’s Tournament championship game).
- Jazmine Massengill led Kentucky in assists with six.
- She has six or more assists in five of the last six games.
- Robyn Benton scored five points, hitting a 3.
- Benton has hit a 3 in three straight games.
- Treasure Hunt hit a 3 in the game, marking the third straight game this has hit a 3.