Georgia cruises to 66-34 win over South Carolina
“We played with a lot of heart, a lot of pride,” Phillips said. “We just got after it. We executed our offense very well and played our defense well.”
Meredith Mitchell scored a career-high 18 points to lead the Lady Bulldogs (21-9), who will face No. 4 Tennessee in Saturday’s semifinals. Georgia improved to 21-9 in quarterfinals appearances.
South Carolina’s 34 points was the lowest points total in SEC tournament history.
The teams split a pair of regular-season meetings, with Georgia winning 61-51 on Jan. 2 in Athens and South Carolina taking a 57-48 decision on Jan. 27 in Columbia.
The Lady Bulldogs closed the regular season on a three-game losing skid but drew a first-round bye. The Gamecocks beat 12th-seeded Mississippi 62-50 in the opening round on Thursday.
“I thought that they played well,” Georgia coach Andy Landers said. “I also thought that they might have gotten tired having played last night, and they played really hard and really, really well last night.”
Georgia scored the first seven points of the game and never trailed. South Carolina didn’t score until Ashley Bruner hit a layup with 16:09 left in the first half.
A 3-pointer by Ieasia Walker cut the margin to 9-5, but Mitchell responded at the other end with a fast jumpshot that launched a 10-0 run for Georgia, which led by double-digits the rest of the way.
The Lady Bulldogs shot 48.1 percent, using their size advantage to score 38 points in the paint and prevent the Gamecocks from taking any good shots.
“They were able to pound it inside a lot, got a lot of layups and high-low looks,” Walker said. “That was a big disadvantage for us.”
South Carolina (17-14) hit just 22.6 percent (12 of 53) from the floor and hurt itself with 18 turnovers and by making only 7 of 18 from the free-throw line.
Markeshia Grant scored 13 points for the Gamecocks, who have never won in five appearances in the SEC tournament quarterfinals.
“I think for us we just have to get more talented,” South Carolina coach Dawn Staley said. “For the most part, the games that we’ve won we pretty much outworked people. The games we lost, we pretty much got out-talented.”