COLUMBIA, S.C. — Two-time SEC player of the year Tiffany Mitchell scored a season-high 24 points and No. 3 South Carolina became just the second 16-0 Southeastern Conference women’s basketball champion after defeating LSU 75-39 at Colonial Life Arena on Sunday.
Mitchell’s point total, one shy of her career best, moved her into fifth place on South Carolina’s scoring list with 1,796 points.
For the second-straight game, the Lady Tigers struggled defending the long ball. South Carolina (28-1) hit 10 3-pointers, shooting 48 percent (10-for-21) from beyond the arc. The Lady Tigers (9-20, 3-13) were 2-of-3 from 3-point range, with Rina Hill hitting both 3-pointers.
In LSU’s last game, Florida hit 11 3-pointers and LSU missed both of its attempts from behind the arc.
Hill led the Lady Tigers with 16 points off a 6-of-14 effort from the field. Alexis Hyder added 10 points. LSU held the rebounding advantage 29-27, led by Jasmine Rhodes and Akilah Bethel with five rebounds each.
Jenna Deemer, LSU’s top outside scoring threat, was not in uniform. She returned from a nine-game absence with an illness on Feb. 18 against Texas A&M but two games later against Florida, she played just nine minutes because of issues related to the illness.
“It’s been a challenging year for us and we knew what we were up against when we came up against South Carolina,” LSU coach Nikki Fargas said.
As happy as South Carolina players were about the perfect run through the SEC, matching Tennessee’s 2011 record, coach Dawn Staley made a vow to fans: “We’re not done.
“The task at hand was being 16-0 in this league,” Staley said. “It’s the kind of focus you need when you’re trying to win a national championship because it doesn’t get any easier. It gets a lot harder as we take each step.”
Next up is the SEC tournament in Jacksonville, Florida, where the Gamecocks will face the winner between Auburn and Missouri at 11 a.m. Friday.
“We’ve accomplished one of our goals this season,” Mitchell said of the undefeated SEC record. “But we’re not done at all. We have a lot more that we want to accomplish and that’s another (SEC) tournament championship and getting to the Final Four again.”
Mitchell, a senior honored in her final regular-season home game, was in the thick of running past LSU (9-20, 3-13), scoring nine straight points in a 22-4 run midway through the second quarter.
A’ja Wilson had 14 points and seven rebounds for the Gamecocks.
LSU shot 29 percent (13-of-45) from the field, leading to its second-fewest points this season. South Carolina shot 51 percent (22-of-43) scored 27 points off 20 LSU turnovers.
Holding a 14-11 lead with 6:43 left in the second quarter, the Gamecocks went on a 20-4 run to take command.
The Lady Tigers will face Alabama at 10 a.m. Wednesday in the first round of the SEC tournament. The game will be carried live by the SEC Network. Tickets are available through the Ticketmaster website or by phone at (800) 745-3000.