NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Aliyah Boston notched her 22nd consecutive double-double with 17 points and 14 rebounds as top-ranked South Carolina beat Arkansas 76-54 Friday in the Southeastern Conference women's tournament quarterfinals.
The Gamecocks (28-1) received their SEC regular season championship before tipoff, then took their first step toward a seventh tournament title in eight years against the last team to beat them in this event. Arkansas beat South Carolina in 2019 with the Gamecocks undefeated since then, winning the 2020 and 2021 tourneys.
South Carolina will play either No. 23 Florida or fourth-seeded Mississippi in Saturday's semifinal, the Gamecocks' ninth in the last 10 seasons.
The Gamecocks now have won 16 straight.
Boston, the SEC Player of the Year and three-time SEC Defensive Player of the Year, did a bit of everything as usual. She had five assists, five steals and two blocks. Laeticia Amihere added 16 points, and Victaria Saxton had 11 rebounds. Ten Gamecocks scored at least three points.
Arkansas (18-13) snapped a two-game winning streak.
Samara Spencer led the Razorbacks with 10 points.
This game was tied only once at 2 with South Carolina never trailing.
The Gamecocks missed their first six shots before Boston got them going, and she scored five points and grabbed five rebounds as South Carolina led 24-12 at the end of the first quarter. Arkansas outscored South Carolina 17-16 in the second, pulling within nine twice before the Gamecocks took a 40-29 lead into halftime.
Arkansas pulled within 44-37 on a 3-pointer by Sasha Goforth with 6:49 left in the third. The Gamecocks made only three shots during the quarter, but they went 10 of 12 at the free throw line and finished the third on a 12-4 run for a 56-41 lead going into the fourth.
The Gamecocks padded the lead to as much as 23 in the final couple minutes. They finished with a big edge at the free throw line (23 of 28) compared to Arkansas (9 of 15) as three Razorbacks finished with four fouls apiece.
Maybe it was the early start, but both teams started very sluggishly. The Gamecocks missed nine of their first 11 shots and didn't make a basket until Boston scored on a putback with 7:56 left in the first quarter. The Razorbacks started 1 of 10 and missed their first seven 3-pointers.
The worst play may have been when Victaria Saxton tried to pass the ball up the court after a defensive rebound with Beal not looking. The ball bounced out of bounds.
WRAPPED AND PLAYING
South Carolina center Kamilla Cardoso missed the Gamecocks' final game of the regular season with what was described as an “upper-body” injury that limited her to six minutes in a win over Texas A&M on Feb. 24. Cardoso came off the bench in this game with a black brace wrapped around her left shoulder.
Cardoso finished with five points and seven rebounds.
Arkansas starts preparing for the NCAA Tournament bracket announcement.
Saturday's semifinal for the Gamecocks.
More AP women’s college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-womens-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25