South Carolina will take on Mississippi State in SEC Women's Championship


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Victoria Vivians scored 30 points, her most since mid-December, and No. 16 Mississippi State beat Tennessee 58-48 in the semifinals of the Southeastern Conference women's tournament Saturday.

The Bulldogs (26-6) won their fifth in a row and advanced to the title game against top-seeded and league unbeaten South Carolina. The third-ranked Gamecocks beat No. 13 Kentucky 93-63 in the other semifinal.

This one was considerably closer until late.

Although Vivians single-handily turned a tight game into a double-digit lead in the third quarter, No. 7 seed Tennessee (19-13) rallied in the fourth and made it 43-41 with about 8 minutes to play.

But Mississippi State - mostly Vivians - responded.

After Morgan William and Dominique Dillingham hit baskets, Vivians scored five straight points to push the lead to 52-43 with 3:16 remaining.

A day after South Carolina turned in its worst offensive performance of the season, coach Dawn Staley's team delivered one of its best.

This one helped the top-seeded Gamecocks (30-1) advance to their second straight SEC title game. They will face either No. 16 Mississippi State or Tennessee in the championship game Sunday.

If South Carolina plays like it did against the Wildcats (23-7), it could be hoisting another trophy.

The Gamecocks opened up a double-digit lead in the first quarter, used an 11-0 run early in the third to make it a 20-point game and then turned it into a laugher with a barrage of 3-pointers in the fourth.

Makayla Epps led the fifth-seeded Wildcats with 16 points.

The Gamecocks and Bulldogs will tip off Sunday at 2:30 from the Veterans Memorial Arena for the 2016 SEC Tournament title.