for this game

Mitchell scores 19, leads SEC champ No. 3 Gamecocks to win

Feb 19, 2016 - 3:22 AM COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) A quick team photo around the Southeastern Conference trophy, a wave to the crowd and off to the locker room. No. 3 South Carolina has much bigger mountains left to climb this season.

Tiffany Mitchell scored 19 points as the Gamecocks wrapped up a third straight SEC regular-season title with a 61-51 victory over Georgia on Thursday night. Its celebration was nothing like the first two, much more matter-of-fact and low key.

''Two years ago, it was new to us and to everyone here at South Carolina,'' said Mitchell, looking for her third straight SEC player of the year honor. ''But I think we've set a standard where we kind of accept what's happened.

''We've just got take this game,'' she says, ''and move on.''

For South Carolina (25-1, 13-0 SEC), that means a try at a perfect regular season, a chance to join Tennessee's 2011 team as the only ones to finish 16-0. After that comes a try at a second SEC tournament title and then going back to the Final Four.

Mitchell said she knew South Carolina coach Dawn Staley would bring a powerhouse to campus and is just happy to be part of the landmark run.

The Gamecocks clinched a share of the championship last Monday night with a 62-56 win at Tennessee. This win meant they would not have to share the crown as they did with the Lady Vols last year.

''Last year's sharing really got under our skin,'' senior point guard Khadijah Sessions said. ''We didn't want to have that feeling.''

Not that it was easy.

The Lady Bulldogs (19-7, 7-6) are the SEC's top defensive team and kept the high-scoring Gamecocks on their heels most of the contest.

Georgia cut a 16-point deficit to 50-45 on Marjorie Butler's basket with 2:24 remaining. But Mitchell answered with a jumper and the Lady Bulldogs could not respond.

A'ja Wilson had 16 points, nine rebounds and two blocks for the Gamecocks.

Tiaria Griffin led Georgia finished a point off her career high of 25 points. She also had eight rebounds.

Butler was the only other double-figure scorer for the Lady Bulldogs with 12 points as they saw their five-game winning streak snapped.

Sessions scored 12 points, including a 30-footer as time ran out in the second quarter. The senior point guard also had a career-best six steals.

South Carolina won its 25th straight SEC game at home, a streak that goes back to the 2013 season.

The Gamecocks posed with the championship trophy at midcourt while fans chanted ''S-E-C, S-E-C.''

The game matched up the SEC's top scoring team in South Carolina against its No. 1 defense in Georgia. Defense, on both sides, won out the first two quarters as neither team found an offensive rhythm.

The Lady Bulldogs moved in front 11-10 on Merritt Hempe's short jumper to start second quarter. Then Georgia went ice cold, missing 11 of its final 12 shots of the period to trail 27-13.


Georgia: The Lady Bulldogs have played strongly on the road this season. They won at Vanderbilt for the first time since 2006 and at LSU for the first time since 2001. They've also beaten then-20th-ranked Florida and then-21st-ranked Missouri on the road.

South Carolina: The Gamecocks lead the SEC in several offensive categories with 73.2 points per game, a 14.9-point average margin of victory, plus field goal percentage and 3-point shooting percentage.


The Gamecocks used just seven players against Georgia because of an injury to starter Asia Dozier, an illness to backup Jatarie White and reserve point guard Bianca Cuevas being in coach Dawn Staley's doghouse. Cuevas, who averages nearly 17 minutes a game, barely moved from her seat. Staley would only say it was her decision to sit Cuevas and that she would be ready for Monday night's game.


Shacobia Barbee, Georgia's second-leading scorer at 12.8 points a game, finished 1-of-11 shooting with 3 points. Georgia coach Joni Taylor said the 5-foot-10 senior was matched up against 6-5 A'ja Wilson and expended energy on defense. ''There's nights where she may not shoot the ball as well as she wants to, but if she's not on the floor, we have no shot,'' Taylor said.


Georgia plays No. 22 Florida at home Sunday.

South Carolina plays at Alabama on Monday night.